A whistleblower who exposed that Apple was hoovering up people’s Siri recordings has gone public in decrying the company.
Last year, The Guardian broke a shocking story that Apple was employing contractors to listen to and ‘grade’ Siri recordings. This was done without users knowledge and contractors “regularly” heard confidential information from iPhone and iPad owners, including medical information, drug deals and recordings of couples havign intimate moments. Apple subsequently issued a full apology, admitting “we have not been fully living up to our high ideals.” But now, according to The Guardian’s whistleblower, we are learning that nothing has changed.
Thomas le Bonniec was a contractor for Apple’s Siri “grading” project, taking snippets of people talking to Siri and transcribing them to improve the smart assistant’s accuracy.
Now le Bonniec, who is based in Cork, Ireland, has sent an open letter to European privacy regulators, published in the early hours of Wednesday, calling on them to take action against the tech giant.
“It is worrying that Apple (and undoubtedly not just Apple) keeps ignoring and violating fundamental rights and continues their massive collection of data,” he writes.
“I am extremely concerned that big tech companies are basically wiretapping entire populations despite European citizens being told the EU has one of the strongest data protection laws in the world. Passing a law is not good enough: it needs to be enforced upon privacy offenders.”
While Le Bonniec rounds primarily on Apple, he is also highly critical of the lack of action taken against Apple and big tech companies in general, saying “I am extremely concerned that [they] are basically wiretapping entire populations”.
It is important to note that Apple’s so-called wiretapping is not an isolated case. Amazon, Google and Facebook have admitted to similar practices but none trade on privacy as a selling point like Apple.
In the meantime, concerned iPhone and iPad owners could make the following changes: Settings > Privacy > Analytics & Improvement > Improve Siri & Dictation and check it is off, then Settings > Siri & Search > Siri History and tap ‘Delete Siri & Dictation History’. To enable further restrictions, such as revoking location tracking and third-party app integration with Siri, read Apple’s Ask Siri, Dictation & Privacy page.