Privacy When Using Siri

Siri is the voice-controlled personal assistant which provides an intuitive way to get tasks done on your Apple device without having to open apps and tap carefully at the screen and so on. As you certainly know, you can use Siri for everything from setting reminders and alarms to placing phone calls, taking notes, dictating messages and more.

Privacy When Using Siri

Siri listens to your voice input through the device’s built-in microphones or through the headset microphone and then runs the input through servers in Apple’s heavy-duty data center to figure out what you are looking for. Depending on what Siri gets back from the servers, it either shows the user the request in has understood and asks for confirmation or asks you to rephrase a request if it has not been able to interpret it. Besides, for some tasks, Siri can determine unambiguously what you request. If the request is easy to understand and harmless, Siri goes ahead and performs the action without asking for confirmation.

But should you worry about your privacy when using Siri? In fact, the way this feature works means that using Siri gives Apple a lot of data about the user, whom he or she knows, what the user regularly does and so on.

As your personal digital assistant passes all the trafic through servers in Apple’s data center (located in North Carolina, by the way) for processing, Apple gets information about your device, about its location, about you, about all your contacts and the level of relationship with them and more. All the data collected helps the Siri service interpret the instructions you give this assistant. For example, if the contact called Angelina Jolie is your wife, the service retains that information and passes it through the Apple server. The next time you ask Siri to call your wife it will find Angelina’s number and call her.

However, you can turn off the service and not to use Siri at all or disable part of it. For example, you can disable Location Services for Siri if you prefer to hide it from Apple’s servers. If you disable Location Seervices, Siri will not respond helpfully to requests such as Find the nearest bistro, but the assistant will still find local information if you just tell Siri where you are.

Even when you turn off Siri, Apple will retain your Siri commands so that it can use them to try to improve the service. However according to Apple, it disassociates this data from you, so it shouldn’t be able to come back and haunt you. Anyway, given that the iPhone in your pocket is tracking your approximate location all the time, so that you can make and take calls and shunt data back and forth, the extra information that Siri gathers about you is not worth worrying about.

If you are concerned about your data footprint, you may prefer to proceed as follows: Just make sure that the Siri switch on your iPhone is set to the Off position, and then tap the Disable Siri button in the dialog box that appears. The Siri feature will be turned off altogether.

Note that by default, you can launch Siri from the lock screen by pressing and holding the Home button or the clicker button on the headset for a couple of seconds. It this doesn’t work, it means that someone has disabled Siri from the lock screen as a security precaution, and thus your should re-enable Siri from the lock screen.

Finally, let’s say the there is an issue with your privacy from Siri, as law enforcement may be able to gather data about you from your carrier, your ISP (short for Internet service provider), or from Apple by using legal tools. For example, the FBI can use a National Security Letter to request information from your carrier or ISP.

See also:

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