On July 10th Patently Apple posted a report titled “House Republicans Query Google and Apple on Privacy and Audio Recordings triggered by ‘Okay Google’ and ‘Hey Siri.'” The report noted that the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Greg Walden, along with three other senior Republicans on the panel, had written Apple and Google ‘to probe the companies’ representation of third-party access to consumer data, and the collection and use of audio recording data as well as location information via iPhone and Android devices.”
Today we’re learning that “Apple Inc told U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday that its iPhones do not listen to users without their consent and do not allow third-party apps to do so either.
Further, Apple said iPhones do not record audio while listening for Siri wakeup commands and Siri does not share spoken words. Apple said it requires users to explicitly approve microphone access and that apps must display a clear signal that they are listening.
The letters, in which lawmakers cited reports suggesting third-party applications had access to and used ‘non-triggered’ data without users’ knowledge, followed congressional hearings in April into Facebook Inc’s privacy practices, which included testimony by its CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
To that point, Apple noted that “Apple does not and cannot monitor what developers do with the customer data they have collected, or prevent the onward transfer of that data, nor do we have the ability to ensure a developer’s compliance with their own privacy policies or local law.” In other words, of course it’s happening but we’re not a party to any nefarious activity. Realistic but not very comforting.
Alphabet did not respond to questions about whether it had replied to lawmakers. Apple declined to comment beyond its letter, which was seen by Reuters. For the full story click here.
When watching the Epix TV series ‘Berlin Station‘ recently, it was disturbing to see how CIA operatives were able to tap into the audio and camera of smartphones without citizens knowing. While it was just a TV show, tell me that you don’t believe that this activity is actually occurring.
The tech industry is going to have to be pushed by new laws to shut down this type of activity just like Apple is pushing privacy on many other levels. Though with Facebook and Twitter having violated our privacy for years without consent, trusting Silicon Valley at all on the issue of privacy is getting harder to do every day.
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