Apple Sued Over Siri Recordings

Apple is facing a class-action lawsuit claiming that the company’s Siri voice assistant is violating user privacy by allegedly recording consumers and minors without consent. The lawsuit also accuses Apple of failing to inform consumers that unintentional recordings could happen. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Northern California, alleges that Apple has violated California’s Invasion of Privacy Act, the Unfair Competition Law, the Consumers Legal Remedies Act, and the Declaratory Judgment Act.

The plaintiffs allege that Apple’s terms and conditions made no reference to the fact that their recordings would be saved and listened to by Apple employees. They are seeking unspecified damages, and for Apple to be required to delete all Siri recordings. The plaintiffs say that anyone who has owned a device with Siri since 2011 is affected by this lawsuit.

Apple says that it saves voice recordings for up to six months at a time in order to improve Siri’s accuracy. After that period, it saves another copy of the data without its identifier for up to two years. Apple may also save some recordings, transcripts, and associated data beyond that two years to further improve Siri.

California law prohibits the recording of oral communications without the consent of all parties to the communication. Siri-enabled devices are only supposed to record conversations preceded by the utterance of “Hey Siri” or through a specific gesture, such as pressing the home button on a device for a specified amount of time. Sources are saying that is not always the case and unintentional recordings are more common than Apple is admitting.

According to previously published reports, the contractors Apple hires to evaluate Siri’s performance regularly hear confidential interactions. Apple announced that it was suspending its Siri grading program globally following the reports. Once Siri grading is reinstated, Apple says that users will be given the option to opt-out. It’s unclear whether it has made any other changes regarding how it handles user data.