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Apple Siri Raises Privacy Concerns

Apple has revealed that anything iPhone and iPad users are asking Siri is stored on its servers for up to two years.

Siri is the personal assistant service on iOS devices like the iPhone 5 and iPad mini that answers questions, makes recommendations and performs actions through the user’s voice. The intelligent app stores personal data to make more customised results.

However, Siri has recently raised concern over its privacy policy when it was revealed how long that data is stored by Apple itself.

After speaking to Apple spokeswoman Trudy Miller, Wired learned that “Apple may keep anonymized Siri data for up to two years.”  

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This is because when people speak to Siri it goes for analysis on Apple’s data farm. These voice clips are then analysed by ascribing randomly generated numbers to represent the iPhone user, rather than Apple user IDs or email addresses. These random numbers then get associated with the voice file you have sent in via Siri.

As soon as the voice recording is six months old, Apple deletes the random number from the voice file and thereby “disassociates” the identity. However, for testing and product improvement purposes Apple keeps these disassociated files for up for 18 months.

“If a user turns Siri off, both identifiers are deleted immediately along with any associated data,” added Miller.

However, American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Nicole Ozer found it odd that Apple did not include this information about how they handle users’ data on its FAQ page, which describes how Siri functions.

“What you say to Siri could reveal sensitive things about you, your family, or business”, said Ozer, warning users about the data Siri stores about users. “Make a note to yourself to really think before you speak.”

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