Apple Facing Lawsuit for 'Unlawful and Intentional' Recording of Confidential Siri Requests Without User Consent

Apple is facing a class action lawsuit [PDF] for employing contractors to listen to and grade some anonymized Siri conversations for the purpose of quality control and product improvement.

Apple's ‌Siri‌ practices were highlighted in a recent report where one of the contractors claimed that Apple employees evaluating ‌Siri‌ recordings often hear confidential medical information, drug deals, and other private information when ‌Siri‌ is activated accidentally.

hey siri
The lawsuit, filed in a Northern California court today (and shared by CNBC's Kif Leswing), accuses Apple of "unlawful and intentional recording of individuals' confidential communications without their consent," violating California privacy laws when accidental ‌Siri‌ activations are recorded and evaluated by humans.

Siri Devices are only supposed to record conversations preceded by the utterance of "Hey Siri" (a "wake phrase") or through a specific gesture, such as pressing the home button on a device for a specified amount of time. California law prohibits the recording of oral communications without the consent of all parties to the communication.

Individuals who have purchased or used Siri Devices and interacted with Siri have not consented to Apple recording conversations where "Hey Siri" was not uttered or where they did not otherwise perform a gesture intending to activate Siri, such as pressing and holding down the home button on a device for a certain period of time.

As outlined in its privacy policies, Apple collects some anonymized ‌Siri‌ recordings for the purpose of improving ‌Siri‌ and, presumably, cutting down on accidental ‌Siri‌ activations. These recordings are analyzed by humans and can include details recorded when ‌Siri‌ mishears a "Hey ‌Siri‌" trigger word.

The lawsuit claims that Apple has not informed consumers that they are "regularly being recorded without consent," though it also highlights Apple's privacy policy where Apple does state that such data can be used for improving its services.

The plaintiffs in the case, one of whom is a minor, claim to own an iPhone XR and an iPhone 6 that they would not have purchased had they known that their ‌Siri‌ recordings were stored for evaluation. The plaintiffs are seeking class action status for all individuals who were recorded by a ‌Siri‌ device without their consent from October 12, 2011 to the present.

The lawsuit asks for Apple to obtain consent before recording a minor's ‌Siri‌ interactions, to delete all existing recordings, and to prevent unauthorized recordings in the future. It also asks for $5,000 in damages per violation.

Apple has suspended its Siri evaluation program right now as it reviews the processes that are in place in light of the contractor's claims. Prior to the suspension of the program, Apple said that a small, random subset (less than 1%) of daily ‌Siri‌ requests are analyzed for improving ‌Siri‌ and dictation, with requests not associated with a user's Apple ID.

Apple in the future plans to release a software update that will let ‌Siri‌ users opt out of having their ‌Siri‌ queries included in the evaluation process, something that's not possible at the current time. All collected ‌Siri‌ data can be cleared from an iOS device by turning ‌Siri‌ off and then on again, while accidental recordings can be stopped by disabling "Hey ‌Siri‌."

Top Rated Comments

nacheen Avatar
26 months ago
Guess they should have read the terms of service better...
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nsayer Avatar
26 months ago
All of that quality assurance work and Siri is still comically bad at understanding what she's asked.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
neuropsychguy Avatar
26 months ago
This lawsuit is going nowhere.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
uajafd Avatar
26 months ago
"Apple in the future plans to release a software update that will let Siri users opt out of having their Siri queries included in the evaluation process, something that's not possible at the current time."

Not nearly good. This should be opt-in, not opt-out. Also, I imagine this is some grounds for a GDPR lawsuit.

I also read the whole privacy statement displayed when you try to enable Siri. Nowhere in it does it say that humans listen to snippets of your conversations.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sir1963nz Avatar
26 months ago
"What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone" ... apparently not.

Apple has made HUGE statements about privacy, "Privacy is King" , and it turns out that is 'misleading' at best.

Will I opt-in, nope because you have shown that you are no more trustworthy than any other company when it suits you.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Zaft Avatar
26 months ago
That was quick.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iOS 14 on iPhone feature emergency

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1 With Fix for Touch ID Apple Watch Bug

Monday July 26, 2021 9:48 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1, minor bug fix updates that come just a week after the release of iOS 14.7, software that introduced new Apple Card features and support for the MagSafe Battery Pack. The iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to...
iPad mini pro feature 2

iPad Mini 6 to Feature 8.3-Inch Display With No Home Button and Narrower Bezels

Monday July 26, 2021 12:26 pm PDT by
The sixth-generation iPad mini that's in the works will have an 8.3-inch display, according to display analyst Ross Young. That will be larger than the current 7.9-inch display, with the larger size due to the removal of the Home button and a narrower bezel design. Rumors about the iPad mini 6 have been picking up in recent weeks ahead of its prospective launch this fall. Apple analyst...
iphone 12 pro gold

Report: iPhone 14 Pro Models to Feature Tough Titanium Alloy Chassis

Monday July 26, 2021 1:12 am PDT by
Next year's "iPhone 14" series is expected to feature high-end models with a new titanium alloy chassis design, claims a new investors report by JP Morgan Chase. According to the report, the use of titanium alloy will be one of the biggest changes to the case design in the 2022 iPhone series, and Foxconn will be the exclusive manufacturer of the titanium frames for the high-end models....
nothing ear 1 buds 1

Nothing 'Ear (1)' True Wireless Earbuds Launch to Take on AirPods Pro With ANC and Unusual Design for $99

Tuesday July 27, 2021 7:57 am PDT by
Nothing, a new brand from OnePlus founder Carl Pei, has today officially launched the "Ear (1)" true wireless earbuds after months of anticipation around the company's AirPods Pro rival. The Ear (1) features an in-ear design, Active Noise Cancelation, Bluetooth 5.2, IPX4 water resistance, and a charging case with Qi-compatible wireless charging and a USB-C port. Fast pairing is supported on...
apple mac business page

Apple Shares 11 Reasons Why Business Users Should Choose Macs

Monday July 26, 2021 11:35 am PDT by
Apple today updated its Apple at Work website with a new section dedicated to the Mac, which offers up 11 reasons why "Mac means business." On the webpage, Apple highlights the M1 chip as the number one reason why business users should choose a Mac, offering up an M1 overview [PDF] that explains the benefits of the M1 chip. The information isn't new, but it does provide a look at all of...
imac with accessories

Larger Redesigned High-End iMac Rumored to Launch Next Year

Monday July 26, 2021 3:45 am PDT by
Apple's larger redesigned iMac will arrive sometime in 2022 rather than later this year, according to the leaker known as "Dylandkt." On Twitter, Dylandkt claimed that Apple's "high end iMac" is not expected to release in the fourth quarter of 2021 alongside Apple's "M1X Macs" – a reference to Apple's redesigned MacBook Pro models – because "Apple simply does not want their devices to...
General iOS 14

iOS 14.7.1 and macOS Big Sur 11.5.1 Patch Security Vulnerability That May Have Been Actively Exploited

Monday July 26, 2021 11:55 am PDT by
Apple today released unexpected iOS 14.7.1 and iPadOS 14.7.1 updates to the public, and according to a newly released support document, the software addresses a serious security vulnerability that may have been exploited in the wild. Apple says that an application may have been able to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges due to a memory corruption issue. "Apple is aware of a report ...
apple bitcoin hack

Is Apple Really Buying Bitcoin?

Monday July 26, 2021 3:07 am PDT by
A large number of websites and posts on social media are stoking rumors that Apple has purchased $2.5 billion worth of bitcoin in the company's first move into cryptocurrency, but is there any validity to the claims? Many people are citing the fact that Apple was looking for a Business Development Manager with experience in alternative payments, including cryptocurrency, earlier this year as ...
tesla red orange bg feature

Tesla CEO Elon Musk Takes Shots at Apple During Earnings Call

Monday July 26, 2021 4:53 pm PDT by
During a Tesla earnings call that took place today, Tesla CEO Elon Musk spent time sniping at Apple, reports CNBC. Musk criticized Apple's "walled garden" and made comments on the company's cobalt use. In a discussion about plans to allow Tesla competitors to use the Tesla electric vehicle charger network, Musk said that Tesla does not want to create a walled garden to "bludgeon" Tesla...
FaceID iMac REREREREMIX

Gurman: Face ID on the Mac Coming Within a 'Couple of Years'

Sunday July 25, 2021 7:09 am PDT by
Apple plans to bring Face ID to the Mac within the next "couple of years," respected Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman said today in the latest edition of his Power On newsletter. In the newsletter, Gurman says that he believes Apple's ultimate goal is to shift all of its products to Face ID, including the lower-end iPhones such as the iPhone SE and the iPad Air, which feature Touch ID....