Apple Admits to Storing Anonymous Siri Data From Users For 2 Years Before Deleting
Apple introduced Siri with the iPhone 4S and later released it onto several other iOS devices, including the iPod touch and the iPad. The personal assistant helped users to voice dictate text and also search the device locally as well as the other queries on the web. However, Apple failed to mention to users that it would store some of their searches.
On Friday, Apple revealed to Wired that it stores anonymous Siri data from its users for up to 2 years before removing them from the servers. This means that sensitive data may be stored in the cloud, in a place that may not always be secure. After being questioned about privacy, Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller noted that Apple only keeps this data to to improve the service, adding that it takes customer privacy very seriously.
Even with these guarantees, some users may still be skeptical about the information being stored, especially with Apple’s iOS 6 having serious bugs, including one with the passcode lock that allowed for a hack to bypass the screen. Siri operates entirely in the cloud, even local song searches on the device itself requires a data connection. This allows Apple to record and save certain voice clips of a user’s searches.
Each clip is assigned to a user through a random number, and is not associated with any Apple ID, device number, or email address. On the user’s end, the only way to stop Apple from collecting the data is to turn off Siri which then prompts Apple to delete the random number assigned to that user. Siri’s strict reliance on a data connection concerns many users and privacy advocates who fear that the personal data in Apple’s servers may somehow be leaked or used wrongfully.