Google, Amazon, and Apple Digital Voice Assistants Under Scrutiny for Flouting Privacy Expectations

by: The Knowledge Group

August 05, 2019


Did you know? Apple sends some people’s Siri recordings to its contractors around the world. The information goes back to the company to help improve its digital voice assistant. The rationale seems reasonable. After all, artificial intelligence can only be improved by collecting and examining data on what’s working and what’s not. Google’s done it too. Same with Alexa.

The issue is in the private, accidental recordings received by Apple, which can be highly personal and sensitive, containing sufficient location and contact details to identify a user. The idea that we’re letting these companies review our information anonymously is no longer believable if it ever was.

Is Digital Privacy Impossible?

Apple’s privacy policy does disclose that “certain information” goes to its servers—data related to who you are, the way you communicate, your musical tastes and your search result preferences—to help Siri understand the way you speak and what you’re hoping to find.

But you can’t opt-out. Amazon’s Echo and Alexa systems have retained “deleted” personal information, so deleting isn’t the answer with this technology. Bloomberg reported that Amazon employees listen to user voice recordings.

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