When iPhone 4S was launched in 2011, the most awaited feature of the device was the intelligent voice assistant Siri. Back at that time, Siri was considered as a revolutionary feature which was not available on any other smartphones. We had some similar software back then but they were not even near the smart voice assistant that Apple had released with their device. Siri used its voice recognition software to perform plenty of tasks like emailing your friend or calling your family etc. But any user who wanted to use the voice assistant had to make sure that the device was connected to a data network. This meant that Siri communicated with the servers online and the data was transmitted between these servers which made them vulnerable.
Many started asking the question whether the company saved these requests or data and if they did for how long they kept them. Finally we have an answer to this question as Apple Spokesperson, Trudy Muller replies to Wired.
According to the Trudy, once a user talks to the digital personal assistant, the request or the data is sent to the Apple servers for analysis. There, the user is assigned a random number (which is not his apple Id or any other number which can relate to the person). The voice data sent to the server is linked to this random number and nobody in the company can find out the identity of the user. After six months or so, Apple deletes the random number associated with the data, however it still makes sure that the data is in the company’s servers for upto 18 months. During the 18 month period, the company analyses the data and uses it for product development purposes.
However, Nicole Ozer, the American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who brought this topic to the notice of the Wired is of the opinion that the company should atleast mention this in their Siri FAQs. According to Nicole a user should be aware that his or her data is being stored in the company’s servers and mentioning this in the FAQs would help them decide whether or not to use the service.
Services like Siri and Google Now are known to utilize user data and hence users would definitely wonder how their data is being used by these companies and for how long they are stored in their servers. The reply from Apple would be a relief for many users, still we advise one to read the privacy policies of these companies in detail before actually jumping out and using their service.