US Federal Judge Rules Apple Must Face Siri Privacy Class Action Lawsuit

A lawsuit against Apple, claiming that its Siri voice assistant violates users’ privacy, will be allowed to proceed.

Reuters report explains that a U.S. federal judge says Apple must face nearly all of a proposed class action lawsuit claiming that its voice-activated Siri assistant violates users’ privacy.

The plaintiffs can reportedly sue Apple and try to prove that Siri recorded their private conversations after being activated accidentally. Apple allegedly passed these conversations over to third parties according to the lawsuit. Back in July 2019, a whistleblower revealed that Apple was sending snippets of iPhone users’ interactions with Siri to a third-party contractor to help Apple improve Siri’s performance.

At the time, Apple said that less than one percent of Siri’s daily activations were being sent to the contractors whose job was to determine whether Siri was activated on purpose or by accident.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White acknowledged that Siri has the capability to violate users’ privacy through “accidental activations,” in which the user doesn’t expect Siri to be listening or recording conversations, according to the report.

“Apple faults plaintiffs for not alleging the contents of their communications, but the private setting alone is enough to show a reasonable expectation of privacy,” White wrote.

But the judge said the part of the suit alleging economic harm doesn’t hold water under the California Unfair Competition Law, the report stated. That claim was tossed because plaintiffs said they didn’t show they purchased Apple products strictly under the impression that their privacy would be protected.

The judge added that the plaintiffs can claim that Apple violated the federal Wiretap Act, California’s privacy laws, and committed breach of contract. The judge did deny a claim made by the plaintiffs accusing Apple of unfair competition.