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  • Apple to enhance Siri privacy protection

    Home Forums AskWoody blog Apple to enhance Siri privacy protection

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    This topic contains 16 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  rc primak 3 weeks ago.

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    • #1925390 Reply

      woody
      Da Boss

      From Nathaniel Parker: Apple has recently made a statement concerning a series of privacy enhancements to Siri as a followup to Apple’s halting of emp
      [See the full post at: Apple to enhance Siri privacy protection]

    • #1925411 Reply

      rc primak
      AskWoody_MVP

      Any voice control, whether it’s a Cable Company Remote, a Digital Assistant or something used in a Desktop Operating System, is prone to leak non-command sounds, conversations and other “incidental” recordings of ambient sounds. This issue is not addressed at all by any vendor I am aware of.

      The only way to prevent recording, snooping and retention of recordings is to use other input methods.

      I never have used and never intend to use, any device whose only input is voice, except my telephone.

      -- rc primak

      2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #1925412 Reply

      Ken Sims
      AskWoody Plus

      I’ll stick with keeping Siri turned completely off on my iPhone.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #1925564 Reply

      OscarCP
      AskWoody Plus

      I have Siri turned off completely, in my Mac, since day one, including deselecting all applications it is supposed to access to help the user, and also have the microphones and camera off as long as I don’t actually need to use them. I have even covered with a bit of tape the lens of the video camera that sits atop the laptop screen (a MacBook Pro) , as I understand that, after installing surreptitiously certain malware, others can turn these devices back on.

      But today, a very strange thing happened: suddenly there was Siri, unexpectedly recommending I check Wikipedia about some unusual neurological condition related to MBP  (or Mielin Basic Protein). A condition I have never expressed an interest in any  form while using my Mac, or I even knew what it was until today. When I clicked the blue button in the pop up, as there seem to be no other way to get rid of it, this did closed down, but also”Siri”  put me in touch with what looked entirely like an actual Wikipedia Web page on the topic. Or was this a very sophisticated form of phishing? I clicked off the browser right away. I also did an immediate malware scan, but my anti virus found nothing bad going on, and now here I am, awaiting further developments. Anybody else has had this experience? It could be just a software bug related to Siri. Or it could be an uninvited and malignant “feature” planted in my Mac.

      Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group B & macOS + Linux (Mint) => Win7 Group W + Mac&Lx

    • #1925662 Reply

      Nathan Parker
      AskWoody_MVP

      Thanks for asking about the Siri issue. It sounds like somehow Siri was summoned and misinterpreted something to cause it to pull the Wikipedia article. I haven’t seen any malware or anything that puts a fake Siri-like display on your Mac, but anything is certainly possible.

      There should be a way to dismiss it by clicking on the X in the upper-left corner of the screen if it’s the real Siri window. This article from Apple explains how Siri functions on a Mac:

      https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT206993

      If yours didn’t resemble that, it could be something else. If it occurs again, posting a screenshot would be great.

      If your malware scanners checked out clean, you should be safe. You could check your Applications folder to see if anything else awry is showing up, as well as the Input Methods folder in your User Library folder (I can direct you how to get there if need be), as nefarious stuff has been known to install itself there.

      Nathan Parker

      3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #1925676 Reply

        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Thanks, Nathan. Unfortunately, I had not summoned Siri, so the screen was not one of those shown in that article when Siri is answering a question from the user by providing information on some topic. No: it was a small, rectangular pop up window with the name of the topic “MBP” and a summary of what this is, gleaned, apparently, from the summary paragraph at the start of, supposedly, an article in Wikipedia. There was a small, round blue button on the lower right corner. No “x” button on any, corner, or anywhere else. So I clicked the  blue button and it took me to a Wikipedia page about MBP, or it seemed to. Later I looked for “MBP” on Wikipedia, and it was that same page, as far as could tell from what I had seen during that previous apparition, which I only looked at very briefly, being in a big hurry to get away from it, as already mentioned. I have removed, a long time ago, all access of Siri to applications as well as to my Mac’s keyboard.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group B & macOS + Linux (Mint) => Win7 Group W + Mac&Lx

    • #1925677 Reply

      Nathan Parker
      AskWoody_MVP

      Thanks for clarifying. It’s definitely not Siri. Did you happen to three-finger tap on “MBP” anywhere? I just tried three-finger tapping on a word, and I received a gray box with a Wikipedia article, with a blue button that takes me to the article. I’m attaching what happens when I three-finger tap on MBP, plus where to disable it under System Preferences (it’s Look up and Data Detectors under Trackpad).

      2019-08-29_21-45-34

      2019-08-29_21-46-11

      Nathan Parker

      Attachments:
      2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #1925682 Reply

        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Nathan: Yes, that is exactly it! (The only difference is that the background looks a bit different, because I am not using “Dark Mode”.) I just have, following your advice, deselected “look up and data detectors” in the “Trackpad” section of “System Preferences.”

        I must say that, ever since I upgraded to Mojave from Sierra, the track pad has become a bit unruly and developed something of a mind of its own. Sometimes, when I have more than one screen open and all but one minimized, when I click on the pad,  the Mac suddenly shows all the screens together, each much smaller than usual, of course, to fit all of them in the screen. Just one of several weird things it is doing these days, but never did before Mojave.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group B & macOS + Linux (Mint) => Win7 Group W + Mac&Lx

    • #1925685 Reply

      Nathan Parker
      AskWoody_MVP

      Nathan: Yes, that is exactly it! (The only difference is that the background looks a bit different, because I am not using “Dark Mode”.)

      Excellent! Glad that worked (and glad to know it’s not malware).

      Overall my trackpad has been OK even with Mojave, but my Magic Mouse is really touchy (even before Mojave). One reason could be is I haven’t used a mouse in about ten years before switching to the iMac Pro, and I still need to adjust. 🙂

      Nathan Parker

      • #1925696 Reply

        DrBonzo
        AskWoody Plus

        The Magic Mouse on my High Sierra iMAC can get very touchy, not so much with clicking and finger scrolling, but rather with cursor movement. I’ve discovered that a quick finger wipe of the 2 rubber pad strips on the bottom and a quick puff of air on the red laser tracker will always calm the mouse down, even if I can’t see any dirt on it. It’s also very susceptible to any dirt on the desk surface or mousepad surface. As long as everything is clean, it works great. I was surprised at how large an effect even the tiniest amount of dust has. Most PC mice I’ve used seem to just plow through dirt without much effect.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #1925699 Reply

      Nathan Parker
      AskWoody_MVP

      Good to know others have the Magic Mouse issue as well. The Mighty Mouse was even worse. It had a physical scroll ball that once dust got into it, bye bye scroller.

      Nathan Parker

    • #1925764 Reply

      Alex5723
      AskWoody Plus

      it sounds as though Apple will continue to use computer-generated transcripts to help improve Siri, without the ability for customer’s to opt-out

      Users will have to opt-in as default will be transcripts = disabled.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #1926054 Reply

      anonymous

      Would they even need to update the older OSes? Most of what is needed to be done would be on the server side, telling it not to keep what comes in. The user could just opt in or out on a web page instead of inside the settings directly.

      That would, in my opinion, be the best way to implement this so that they don’t have to patch every final iOS version on Siri-enabled devices. And it would be better than the other secure option: disable Siri entirely on those devices.

    • #1926065 Reply

      Nathan Parker
      AskWoody_MVP

      Users will have to opt-in as default will be transcripts = disabled.

      Excellent news. Thanks!

      Nathan Parker

    • #1926068 Reply

      Nathan Parker
      AskWoody_MVP

      Would they even need to update the older OSes? Most of what is needed to be done would be on the server side, telling it not to keep what comes in. The user could just opt in or out on a web page instead of inside the settings directly.

      I would think it could all be handled server-side, but the fact that Apple mentions fall software updates to implement the changes implies that something does need to be done at the OS level. Apple does tend to want to put privacy controls as switches into the OS versus using web pages, so it may be more of a user interface experience rollout. While Apple could technically do it with a webpage, Apple likes to direct users to their apps or the Settings app directly.

      Nathan Parker

    • #1931385 Reply

      Geo
      AskWoody Plus

      That’s the wave of the future.  Machine learning and AI  make use of the recordings  in order to move forward  and enhance the user experience for those who wish to partake in it.

      • #1932790 Reply

        rc primak
        AskWoody_MVP

        If that were all it was being used for, I don’t think anyone would be complaining. But when third parties get to listen in on snippets or background noises, and when police departments have used background sounds to make arrests, we are no longer in the realm of “moving forward and enhancing the user experience”.

        We have no assurances that these additional uses of the recordings can’t or won’t happen in the future. And no way to confirm when such recorded snippets have been deleted from the servers where they are being stored. Let alone the other places where they may have been downloaded and uploaded, legitimately or otherwise.

        The lack of transparency, even from Apple, is not encouraging.

        -- rc primak

    Please follow the -Lounge Rules- no personal attacks, no swearing, and politics/religion are relegated to the Rants forum.

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