Business Insider Edition

A new lawsuit accuses Apple of violating users' privacy by allegedly allowing Siri to record without consent

Lisa Eadicicco , Business Insider US
 Aug 08, 2019, 10:28 AM
Florence Fu/Tech Insider
  • A recently filed class-action lawsuit accuses Apple of violating user privacy by allegedly recording consumers and minors with its Siri digital assistant without consent.
  • The lawsuit comes after The Guardian reported that the contractors Apple hires to evaluate Siri's performance regularly hear confidential interactions.
  • Apple announced that it was suspending its Siri grading program globally following the report.
  • Amazon also came under fire earlier this year over how it handles Alexa recordings.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider SA.

Apple is facing a class-action lawsuit claiming that the company's Siri voice assistant is violating customer privacy by allegedly recording users without their consent.

The lawsuit, which Bloomberg first reported, comes after The Guardian discovered that the contractors Apple hires to evaluate Siri's performance regularly hear confidential interactions that may have occurred when Siri was triggered unintentionally. Apple announced that it was suspending its Siri grading program globally following the report.

The lawsuit alleges Siri users are being recorded without their consent and accuses Apple of failing to inform consumers that could happen.

Apple did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment regarding the lawsuit.

Apple isn't the only company to come under fire for the way it manages recordings picked up by its virtual assistant. Privacy concerns over Amazon's Alexa bubbled up earlier this year after Bloomberg reported that the retail giant had hired thousands of people to listen to voice recordings captured by its Echo smart speakers to improve its accuracy.

What happens to your Siri requests

When you ask Siri a question, your name and the request you've asked Siri is sent to Apple's voice-recognition servers. But that information is tied to a random identifier that your device generates, meaning it's not associated with your Apple ID.

The company saves voice recordings for up to six months at a time to improve Siri's accuracy. After that six-month period, it saves another copy of the data without its identifier for up to two years. Apple may also save some recordings, transcripts, and associated data beyond that two years to improve Siri, and in the past some of that data had gone through a grading process that involved human reviewers.

Apple has since suspended that grading program, but it's unclear if it made any other changes in regards to how it handles user data.

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