Apple tells lawmakers iPhones are not listening in on consumers

Ceria Alfonso
Agosto 10, 2018

The new AirPower wireless charger and iPhones are displayed in the showroom after the new product announcement at the Steve Jobs Theater on the new Apple campus in Cupertino, Calif., Sept. 12, 2017. The declaration came after US lawmakers asked the company whether its devices were invading users' privacy.

Citing media reports, the lawmakers raised concerns that smartphones could "in some instances" collect data from nearby conversations, even if the user did not intentionally wake the voice assistants with "Hey Siri" or "OK, Google".

We have worked to design iOS and Apple apps so that the processing of information collected the microphone stays on the device where possible and the information is never shared with Apple or others unless the user takes action to do so.

"The customer is not our product, and our business model does not depend on collecting vast amounts of personally identifiable information to enrich targeted profiles marketed to advertising", the letter reads. Powderly had already written a similar letter to Sen. In the days following the scandal, Apple CEO Tim Cook made jabs at Facebook's loose rules governing how third-party developers could use personal information. The reports, as well as other information provided to the lawmakers, have apparently raised questions about the privacy practices of both companies. The letter to Cook reportedly raised fewer issues, but still queried if iPhones collect and transmit "extensive location data". Siri also does not share spoken words, said Apple. Aside from location data, the letters also wanted to know about how devices collect audio data from user conversations, and sharing that data with third parties.

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The letter comes in response to an inquiry from Representatives Greg Walden, Marsha Blackburn, Gregg Harper and Robert Latta. The request follows in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica affair, where a now-defunct political consulting firm created approximately 71 million USA voter profiles based on data it had harvested from Facebook without user consent in 2015. Siri utterances are sent to Apple and handled in accordance with Apple's Privacy Policy.

"Not all technology companies operate in the same manner- in fact, the business models and data collection and use practices are often radically different from one another".

Powderly emphasizes that Apple values consumer privacy.

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