A year after a whistleblower claimed Apple's voice assistant Siri was listening in to conversations of iPhone and iPad users, users' privacy remains to be at risk.
According to TechRadar, Thomas le Bonniec went public last year revealing that Apple was secretly listening in to Siri recordings. However, due to a lack of action, he wrote to all European data protection regulators claiming that Apple has continued to ignore users' fundamental rights with its massive data collection.
The letter published by The Guardian raised concern over big tech companies that wiretap across populations worldwide, despite the passing of rigid data protection laws. "Passing a law is not good enough: it needs to be enforced upon privacy offenders," said le Bonniec.
Whistleblower claims Siri continues to listen to people's conversations despite Apple's apology last year
After the former Apple contractor went public last year, Apple issued an apology in August for "not fully living up to our high ideals," and then released the iOS 13.2 update in October, primarily aimed to allow users decide whether to use voice recordings and to delete the stored recordings. The update also improves Siri's dictation. In November, Apple CEO Tim Cook shared a video on social media that detailed the company's security and privacy information.
Le Bonniec was a former subcontractor for Apple who transcribed user requests in English and French. However, he quit in the summer due to ethical concerns about his work. He said the recordings involved users and their families with all their information like names, addresses to searches, and conversations in the background. His new claims would surely stir at the company's Cupertino headquarters.
However, Apple is not an isolated case as Amazon, Facebook, and Google have admitted to similar issues in the past. However, Apple highlighted privacy as one of its selling features, while its privacy page states that the company believes "privacy is a fundamental human right." Meanwhile, security experts have issued warnings around leaks of Apple's upcoming iOS 14 operating system.
According to a Motherboard report, security researchers and hackers have already accessed these leaked update versions since February. The report claims that a person got hold of a version for iPhone 11 running iOS 14. These codes have been circulating since then via Twitter.
Unlike in the past, this specific leak has occurred a few months before the beta versions are released to the public late in June, which triggered concerns from security experts.
Keep your phone safe
If iPhone and iPad users have not yet made security changes to turn off Siri, here is what they should do: Click on Settings > Privacy > Analytics & Improvement > Improve Siri & Dictation, then check the box.
To delete the recordings, go to Settings > Siri & Search > Siri History, then tap on "Delete Siri & Dictation History". Users may also opt to remove location tracking and third-party app integration with Siri by visiting Apple's privacy page.