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Monday, 22 April 2013 08:39

Apple in hot water over Siri

Written by Nick Farrell



Stores your voice for two years

Jobs’ Mob is in trouble over the fact that its Siri voice activated search tool has been storing people’s searches for two years. Apple has admitted that data collected by Apple to improve its voice-driven Siri service is kept on the company's servers for up to two years before it is discarded.

According to Wired privacy advocates popped into the company to establish exactly what information it knows and keeps about users. It found that the company was surprisingly open about the data it was collecting. Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said the anonymized data is collected solely to improve the service, and that the company takes customer privacy “very seriously”.

Voice clips stored by Apple are categorised by random numbers to represent the user who recorded it. The number is not associated with an Apple ID, email address, or anything else that could be easily personally identifiable, she said. After six months, the random number is no longer associated with the saved clip, but the audio file may be saved for up to two years in total for what Wired said were "testing and product improvement purposes."

If a user turns off Siri on their device, their randomised identifier is deleted, along with any data associated with it. Siri’s use of data has caused problems for Apple before. The fact that Siri data must be sent to Apple before it can provide results has worried those who are concerned about Apple’s security.

Last year IBM barred the use of Siri on its corporate networks, out of concern that sensitive information could leak.

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