Saturday, December 9, 2023

Apple lawsuit over Siri privacy violations is dismissed (but ….)

Apple has won a ruling that tosses out a consumer lawsuit that alleges the tech giant’s voice-activated software records conversations without user consent. However, as Bloomberg notes, this may not be the end of the matter, as Judge Jeffrey White in Oakland, California, said the suit could be revised and refiled. 

The lawsuit was filed on Aug. 7, 2019, and alleged that Apple violates several California laws, including the California Invasion of Privacy act. This seemed to be in response to concerns raised by a Guardian story  over how recordings of Siri queries are used for quality control.

Following the report, Apple suspended the program and said it will review the process that it uses, called “grading,” to determine whether Siri is hearing queries correctly, or being invoked by mistake. Apple said it will also issue a software update in the future that will let Siri users choose whether they participate in the grading process or not. 

The Guardian report claimed Apple contractors regularly hear confidential medical information, drug deals, and recordings of couples having sex, as part of their job providing quality control, or grading, Siri. The article added that, although Apple doesn’t explicitly disclose it in its consumer-facing privacy documentation, “a small proportion of Siri recordings are passed on to contractors working for the company around the world.”

The lawsuit included a request for a court ruling that Apple has violated California’s privacy laws and civil code. Also, it demanded that the tech giant must delete all recordings of class members and take measures to prevent further recording of the class members without their consent.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.