Apple Keeps Anonymized Siri Data for Up to Two Years

The American Civil Liberties Union appealed to Wired yesterday to express their concern over how long Siri, Apple’s voice-controlled digital assistant, remembers what you tell or ask her. From their perspective, Siri’s Privacy Agreement is vague, as there is no clear information on when data is deleted – for instance when you turn Siri off, as one might imagine – or, most importantly, how this process works.

siri

“If you turn off Siri, Apple will delete your User Data, as well as your recent voice input data,” Apple’s privacy statement reads. “Older voice input data that has been disassociated from you may be retained for a period of time to generally improve Siri and other Apple products and services.”

“So your Siri queries may be stored anonymously by Apple for just a few months. Or they may not.”

“It’s not clear what ‘disassociated’ means. It’s not clear what ‘period of time’ means. It’s not clear what using it to ‘generally improve Siri and other Apple products and services’ means,” says Nicole Ozer, a lawyer with the ACLU. “The only thing that’s clear is we really don’t know what may be happening to the personal information we have told Siri, even after we turn Siri off.”

After the post went public, Apple’s spokeswoman Trudy Muller contacted Wired to explain Apple’s policy, saying that the customer’s privacy is very important, and the company is taking steps to anonymize the data and only collects the Siri voice clips with the aim to improve Siri.

“Here’s what happens. Whenever you speak into Apple’s voice activated personal digital assistant, it ships it off to Apple’s data farm for analysis. Apple generates a random numbers to represent the user and it associates the voice files with that number. This number — not your Apple user ID or email address — represents you as far as Siri’s back-end voice analysis system is concerned.”

“Once the voice recording is six months old, Apple “disassociates” your user number from the clip, deleting the number from the voice file. But it keeps these disassociated files for up to 18 more months for testing and product improvement purposes.”

“Apple may keep anonymized Siri data for up to two years,” Muller says “If a user turns Siri off, both identifiers are deleted immediately along with any associated data.”

Apple’s explanation could be the first step in making the process public according to Nicole Ozer, the American Civil Liberties Union lawyer, who also notes that there is room for improvement in terms of informing the customer. Ozer points to the Siri FAQ page, where she says Apple could include information about privacy practices.

What do you think?

Technology enthusiast, rocker, biker and writer of iPhoneinCanada.ca. Follow me on Twitter or contact me via email: istvan@iphoneincanada.ca

  • K3

    SO on all those lonely weekends when someone was wanted to talk dirty with- she’s now playing the he said she said with a little “then you wouldn’t believe what they asked me next”?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jerome.martin1 Jerome Martin

    They must have 2 years of data of me screaming at my phone to “play playlist Newly Added” only to have Siri respond that i dont have a playlist called “Nudy Added”

  • http://twitter.com/Chrome262 Chrome262

    At least we kind of know what they do with the data, still don’t know what Google does with its voice data, or for how long. But then again Google has to much on the ACLU to worry about it lol.

  • http://www.iphoneincanada.ca Gary

    Haha

  • http://twitter.com/aristotle_dude Ari U.

    I have said “Will I need an umbrella tomorrow?” which Siri interpreted as “Glenadin umbrella tomorrow.” more often than actually displaying the weather.

  • http://twitter.com/aristotle_dude Ari U.

    I have often said “Play playlist Spygame shuffled” with Siri responding “I cannot find the playlist biking” so I feel your pain.