Tags: siri | iphone | privacy | apple

IPhone's Siri Raises Privacy Questions

Wednesday, 23 May 2012 04:15 PM

By Jake Miller

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For some users, Apple’s voice-activated personal assistant Siri has been a godsend, improving productivity by saving time that might otherwise be wasted poring over search results.

Others, however, have recognized the voice-activated service as yet another way for technology companies to collect and monetize their users’ personal data.

When you provide what Apple calls “voice input data” by interacting with Siri, your words are transcribed and sent to a facility in North Carolina. Apple claims that they collect voice input data to sharpen Siri’s voice recognition and improve the quality of other Apple products and services, reports CNN.

If Apple was hoping to keep Siri’s data-mining a secret, they seem to have done a poor job of it. Indeed, their software licensing agreement notifies iPhone 4S users: “By using Siri or Dictation, you agree and consent to Apple's and its subsidiaries' and agents' transmission, collection, maintenance, processing, and use of this information, including your voice input and User Data.”

Edward Wrenbeck, the lead developer of the original Siri iPhone app that was eventually purchased by Apple, cautions against excess paranoia: “I really don't think it's something to worry about [ . . .] People are already doing things on these mobile devices. Maybe Siri makes their life a little bit easier, but it's not exactly opening up a new avenue that wasn't there before."

Nevertheless, concerns about the privacy and confidentiality of voice input data collected by Siri have compelled IBM to pull the plug on Apple’s personal assistant, banning employees from accessing Siri on the company network.

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