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  • Apple’s revelations about keeping/scanning Siri recordings demand a response

    Home Forums AskWoody blog Apple’s revelations about keeping/scanning Siri recordings demand a response

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    This topic contains 21 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  Ascaris 3 weeks, 2 days ago.

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    • #1896194 Reply

      woody
      Da Boss

      Excellent article out this morning from Johnny Evans in Computerworld. You may have heard on Friday the Guardian assertion: Apple contractors regularl
      [See the full post at: Apple’s revelations about keeping/scanning Siri recordings demand a response]

      2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #1896273 Reply

      rc primak
      AskWoody_MVP

      This sort of thing has been a problem with Amazon’s Alexa, various Google voice control systems, and others for years. Why not Apple?

      I am not surprised that any system which uses voice sampling to “improve” the system’s responses to the user’s voice inputs will eventually be exposed for doing exactly the same things this article (and the ones about Alexa and Cortana) cites, as well as much more than we are currently aware of.

      On the one hand, product development and improvement demands temporary storage and analysis of user interactions with the Voice Controls. On the other hand…

      The real fun with Voice Controls comes in when State Actors start listening in and retaining “samples” “for quality control purposes”. (Look at China for guidance about this aspect of Voice Control data retention and misuse.)

      -- rc primak

      2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #1896287 Reply

      Alex5723
      AskWoody Plus

      How to stop Apple from listening to your Siri recordings :

      On your iPhone or iPad, head to GitHub to download the “Prevent server-side logging of Siri commands.mobileconfig” (https://github.com/jankais3r/Siri-NoLoggingPLS)

      Swith to the Raw view, tap Allow to download the profile

      Complete the profile installation in Settings by reviewing it and tapping Install

      How to stop Apple from potentially listening to your Siri recordings

      3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #1896404 Reply

        rc primak
        AskWoody_MVP

        On Alexa products, this stopped logging and retention. But reports say it didn’t stop live listening by contractors. Don’t know about Siri/Apple products.

        -- rc primak

    • #1896309 Reply

      Sessh
      AskWoody Lounger

      No surprises at all that these devices are used to listen in on things going on in your house when you’re not using it. These things are listening devices that, AFAIK, can’t be disabled. They are always listening and don’t think for a second Apple devices are the only ones doing this. Apple, after all, is also in the PRISM program and it’s amazing they or any of these big tech companies still have a reputation for privacy at all.

      This is just another price people pay for convenience; that strangers in a room somewhere are going to hear what’s going on in your bedroom, living room and wherever else you may have one of these things set up. I’ll never have one and this is just another thing that people should have taken as a given right from the start when they decided it was a good idea to bring one of these devices into their homes especially in this era of big brother surveillance.

      They even figured out a way to package and market it to people so that they will willingly and gleefully buy the devices to bug their own homes and welcome surveillance into their most private spaces. Of course, your phone can also do this if you’re not careful with what apps you grant microphone access to. Have to really think twice before doing anything tech in today’s world.

      2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #1896387 Reply

        Alex5723
        AskWoody Plus

        No surprises at all that these devices are used to listen in on things going on in your house when you’re not using it.

        No, Siri isn’t listening to you when you are not using and no one said it does (like Facebook listening when the app is closed..). Siri is listening when it is active either by intent or triggered by mistake.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #1896405 Reply

          rc primak
          AskWoody_MVP

          …or triggered by mistake.

          And how does it indicate it got triggered? Alexa/Echo has indicator lights on the device. Not very useful if you’re across the room or in another room. Again, I don’t know about Apple.

          -- rc primak

        • #1896444 Reply

          Sessh
          AskWoody Lounger

          No, Siri isn’t listening to you when you are not using and no one said it does (like Facebook listening when the app is closed..). Siri is listening when it is active either by intent or triggered by mistake.

          Of course it’s always listening even when you’re not using it otherwise how will it hear trigger words? No one should have to say it does this because it does by design. It’s a listening device, of course it’s always listening.

          Apparently you can turn off listening, but as rc primak eluded to, what’s the point of having it if you’re going to turn off listening? That’s like buying a new home stereo system and always keeping the sound muted. It’s a trade-off for convenience. This should not be a surprise to anyone.

          • #1897896 Reply

            rc primak
            AskWoody_MVP

            That’s like buying a new home stereo system and always keeping the sound muted.

            Or buying a soundbar for the TV and then moving to an apartment with quiet hours. That happened.

            -- rc primak

      • #1896406 Reply

        rc primak
        AskWoody_MVP

        You can turn off listening. But then the whole point of having a voice-activated assistant goes down with the ship.

        -- rc primak

        2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #1896578 Reply

          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          The real question, in my opinion, is not “is Siri listening?” when active, but “is it transmitting what hears”? Also: how can one tell what it is actually doing at any time, without , instead, relying entirely on Apple’s “trust us and you’ll be OK” implicit promise?

    • #1896396 Reply

      Sinclair
      AskWoody Lounger

      Turning Siri off on an Iphone:

      Siri exists on many levels on an Iphone there is no single OFF button and every time you install a new app Siri will default to ON for that app. So keeping Siri down in the woods is something that requires constant attention.

      The following menu definitions are from a Dutch Iphone the menu may be named different in English so beware as I translate my menu literally from Dutch to English.

      First go to Settings – Siri and Search

      Turn everything OFF. Every time you install a new app it will be added to the list here and default to ON for that app. So you must turn it OFF for that app yourself every time you install a new app!

      Next go into Settings and your Apple ID – Icloud. In Icloud turn the slider for Siri OFF.

      Settings – Privacy – Locationservices is next. Set Siri and Dictate to NEVER.

      And last at the bottom of the default Settings menu you find a long list of apps. You need to check every app listed and turn its Siri and search option OFF. This is/almost the same setting as the dedicated Siri and Search settings menu. But I still had apps that were ON here when they where set to OFF in Siri and Search.

      I am no Apple or Iphone wizard so if anyone else knows even more options I might have overlooked do tell!

      W7 x64 Pro&Home

      5 users thanked author for this post.
      • #1896734 Reply

        Umbongo
        AskWoody Lounger

        No it’s the same in English – and thank you.  But – OK call me paranoid – even so how does any iphone user know for certain that Apple isn’t listening in: for our protection and product improvement of course.

    • #1896402 Reply

      EstherD
      AskWoody Plus

      One of the niceties about working on a Mac mini desktop… NO mic, NO webcam… NO problems! 😉

      2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #1896408 Reply

        rc primak
        AskWoody_MVP

        Same with my Intel NUC. Also, no touch-screen which I’d have to reach across my desk to use, or else have the monitor waaaay too close for comfort/eye health.

        -- rc primak

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #1898803 Reply

          Ascaris
          AskWoody_MVP

          That’s one thing I really don’t get with this push toward touchscreens.  The ergonomics of touch on a traditional PC (laptop or desktop) are terrible!  As you say, you would have to be reaching considerable distance away, or else bring the monitor closer than you would normally use it.  The monitor I am looking at now to type this is a 23 inch 16:9, and if I extend my arm fully toward it without leaning forward, it’s still a good four or five inches short of touching it.

          If I did lean forward, or if I brought the monitor closer to me on the desk, there’s still the issue of having to extend my arms outward and hold them up for long periods of time.  That whole gravity thing really brings me down!  My arms would tire very rapidly trying to use touch in lieu of a mouse.

          Touch seems to be trendy and cool because phones are allegedly trendy and cool, but it really only works on handheld devices, and only then because other input devices (hardware keyboard and mouse) are not practical.  And if you’re not going to be using touch on your desktop or laptop PC, there’s no need to have the UI hobbled by the inherent compromises built into any touch UI, like oversize elements, disappearing UI objects to save screen space, hamburger menus, and the like.

          The mouse+ keyboard paradigm, along with the various flavors of GUI designed for it, may not have been exciting since 1984 (for Apple fans) or 1995 (when Windows and PCs really hit the mainstream), but it still works better than anything else for non-handhelds.  Anecdotes of children who have never used anything other than an iPad or iPhone climbing up on grandpa’s desk and trying (in vain) to touch the monitor to interact with his PC may seem poignant, but that doesn’t mean that “touch is the future” or any of the other slogans that have been thrown at us to justify inferior user interfaces like GNOME, Unity, Windows 8, and Windows 10.  It just means that grandkiddo hasn’t learned yet the limitations of a touchscreen on non-handhelds.

          Issues like arms getting tired aren’t likely to be at the top of the list of concerns for children, whose boundless energy never ceases to amaze adults, and who seldom have a need to focus and use a computing device for hours at a time before their short attention spans pull them in another direction, but things will change as a child grows to an adult.  Changing the whole input paradigm to meet the expectations of a child who doesn’t know any better would be a foolish endeavor.

          Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.16.4).

    • #1896413 Reply

      rc primak
      AskWoody_MVP

      I even turned off my Comcast voice control on the remote. Then got an older model because the keys on the newer model don’t have a distinct feel to them. My reward?

      PEACE … AND … QUIET.

      -- rc primak

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #1896530 Reply

      OscarCP
      AskWoody Plus

      Two years ago, some of the things I did after I unwrapped and connected the bits and pieces of my then brand new MacBook Pro and turned it on for the first time, was to disable Siri, not activate iCloud and turn off the microphone. Later on, I put a little piece of duct tape on the pinhole of the camera on top of the screen. (It turned out that, with the right malware, someone can record, in audio and, or video, whatever happens within reach of either device.) I reverse, temporarily, the last two steps when I need to do teleconferencing.

      Otherwise, for what I have to do with this particular machine, the setup just described is quite satisfactory, as well as completely reversible, would I need to reverse it, which I rather doubt will ever be necessary.

    • #1896739 Reply

      anonymous

      I don’t understand why so many people are surprised by this. Data is the new oil, and these companies collect as much of it about users as they can. Some believe that Apple doesn’t “have to do this” because their products command enough of a premium as it is. But that’s not how capitalism works. No corporation ever said “we’re rich enough, so let’s not make any more money!”.

      More importantly, once private data about you such as your web browsing history and voice clips are collected, you have NO idea how and what this information will be used for. Take a look at the terms of service of any of these services from Google, Apple or Microsoft and you will see that they left themselves enough wiggle room to drive a mac truck through. For example, “we may share user data with third parties”. And then there are the occasional employees who work for the company that decide to go rogue, and the hackers to worry about as well.

    • #1896764 Reply

      AlexEiffel
      AskWoody_MVP

      I think this is a bit overblown, honestly.

      In theory, you could just switch “Hey Siri” off in Settings, Siri and Search and it won’t be triggered accidentally unless you press the button, which you would probably notice more easily. This setting controls the voice activation part so it should cover what this story is about for the Iphone.

      Maybe the phone still listens when “Hey Siri” is off but doesn’t activate, but that would be bad programming since it would unnecessarily drain the battery. I don’t see a reason to think that it does and even if it did, there is no reason it would be sent to Apple as in theory again, the phone should recognize the “Hey Siri” trigger before sending anything.

      I don’t need a voice-activated assistant, but I do appreciate the ability to press the button one second in the car and then have Siri come up to give me directions, make a call to someone in my contacts list, send a dictated text message or read the ones I received without removing my eyes from the road.

      Like what Sinclair suggested, I turn off Hey Siri and also disable the 3 suggestions in the same menu (my phone is not English so I don’t try to translate) plus the Icloud setting as well.

      If you are more paranoid, you could also disable the authorization to use Siri when the phone is locked, in the same Settings, Siri and Search menu . Maybe that could give you better battery if the phone is listening uselessly because of bad programming when “Hey Siri” is off, but it would be only one possibility among many others as to why your phone battery slowly and constantly drains at night if all background tasks and other draining activities are supposed to be off. In theory, it shouldn’t make a difference, but it might also make you more comfortable that when the phone is locked, Siri won’t activate, at the expense of some convenience.

      For the apps in the Settings, Siri and search menu, I activate only “show app” so the apps come up when you search them on the phone by name, but I disable the Siri and suggestion component which seems to exchange too much info from the app with Siri to my taste, plus I try to avoid as much as possible any background activity I don’t need on the phone. I leave it on for Contacts.

      Location can be useful if you use Siri to find your way, you could permit it only when activated, but then, maybe you don’t feel comfortable with that.

      If I was Tim Cook, I would simply put an opt-in feature for sending voice for review and improvement and be done with it, after explaining with the right PR approach it wasn’t that much of a big deal but that Apple is really committed to improve the privacy of its users. Since most people don’t seem that strict about privacy, I don’t think Apple made a huge blunder with this thing for the majority of users depending on how well they present the issue, but touting privacy as one of your main selling points, it is not logical to not inform users you can have humans review saved audio for improvement without asking permission. They haven’t thought about it in the past, now they are focusing more on privacy, so just add the opt-in feature, move on and do better in the future next time you introduce similar features.

      When Microsoft asked nicely if they could improve their products, I had more trust in them even if I didn’t give them the permission. I figured most people would say sure, why not helping you improve and get more relevant things. Now, I completely lost respect for the company because they went from this respectful attitude to imposing their data collection, just when the world starts to wake up that privacy might be more important than people thought.

      • #1896805 Reply

        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        AlexEiffel: It is. pretty much the same as you describe with the Mac laptops and desktops. I got rid of the Siri icon on the dock (the control bar on the desktop), so I do not have to deal with it again, as I do not need that kind of assistant for what I normally do and, going by previous experiences with “Clippy” and its successors all the way to Cortana (at least judging by the reports about the latter I have heard and read, as I do not use Windows 10), such an assistant could be really and annoyingly intrusive. For assistance, the Web is a sufficient source of information for me. For other users, though, Siri might be something useful; I wouldn’t know.

        • #1898683 Reply

          AlexEiffel
          AskWoody_MVP

          I never found voice assistants useful on the desktop. Voice assistant is there for convenience like the car scenario I evoked, but when you already have your hands on the keyboard, to me it is faster to type what I want.

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