Feeds

Who's a Siri boy, then? Apple hoards your voices for TWO years

Privacy campaigners demand 'high justification' for query cache

Security for virtualized datacentres

A leading UK privacy warrior has urged Apple to explain itself after the tech titan admitted Siri queries are kept on record for two years.

Nick Pickles, director of pressure group Big Brother Watch, spoke out after the iPhone maker today revealed exactly how long it retains questions fired at its voice-controlled personal assistant app.

He said Apple needs to be open and honest about what it does with these queries and requests - which can be anything from "tell my wife I love her" to "where's the nearest vodka bar?" The questions are sent to Apple's cloud for processing, and Siri responds.

"There needs to be a very high justification for retaining such intrusive data for longer than is absolutely necessary to provide the service," Pickles said.

"Apple need to come clean and say what they are storing, for how long and most importantly, why. As consumers become increasingly concerned about their privacy, companies cannot afford to keep their customers in the dark about what happens to information."

Apple revealed it was holding onto anonymised search queries for up to 24 months after the firm came under pressure to explain what "period of time" actually meant in this section of its Siri privacy statement:

If you turn off Siri, Apple will delete your user data, as well as your recent voice input data. Older voice input data that has been disassociated from you may be retained for a period of time to generally improve Siri and other Apple products and services.

Nicole Ozer, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, wants Apple to make its Siri privacy statement a lot more obvious. Currently, it can only be viewed from the app's settings page, but she wants today's admission splashed all over the Apple website.

“There is no good reason for Apple to not include information about privacy practices on their Siri FAQ page,” Ozer said.

She also warned people to be careful what they ask Siri. She added: “What you say to Siri could reveal sensitive things about you, your family, or business. Siri works for Apple, so make a note to yourself to really think before you speak.”

A spokesman for Apple UK did not respond to The Register's request for comment.

But, speaking to WiReD, Cupertino spokeswoman Trudy Muller explained that each search recording is assigned an ID number, and when the recording is six months old, the number is deleted. But this “disassociated” voice data is kept on file for a further 18 months so Apple can use it to supposedly improve services.

“Apple may keep anonymised Siri data for up to two years,” Muller said. “If a user turns Siri off, both identifiers are deleted immediately along with any associated data. Our customers’ privacy is very important to us.” ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
Inside the EYE of the TORnado: From Navy spooks to Silk Road
It's hard enough to peel the onion, are you hard enough to eat the core?
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.