Pirate Things / Normalizing Privacy Invasion (Siri snooping will be off by default)
Pirate Things</a>

Or read title as Apple's Siri to Stop Spying on You by Default

This should not come as a surprise, but those big name companies have been spying on you this entire time, except various outlets don't put it this way. Apple is "making a change" and "apologizes" for spying on users by default and will include a way to opt-in. Is it ironic they're only now saying sorry? And why did it take this long to make the change? Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple have all been outed by former contractors and all of them fell in line with the same deafening stances.

From Apple:

As a result of our review, we realize we haven’t been fully living up to our high ideals, and for that we apologize. As we previously announced, we halted the Siri grading program. We plan to resume later this fall when software updates are released to our users — but only after making the following changes:

  • First, by default, we will no longer retain audio recordings of Siri interactions. We will continue to use computer-generated transcripts to help Siri improve.
  • Second, users will be able to opt in to help Siri improve by learning from the audio samples of their requests. We hope that many people will choose to help Siri get better, knowing that Apple respects their data and has strong privacy controls in place. Those who choose to participate will be able to opt out at any time.
  • Third, when customers opt in, only Apple employees will be allowed to listen to audio samples of the Siri interactions. Our team will work to delete any recording which is determined to be an inadvertent trigger of Siri. --Apple

Let me respond:

What could be worse than actual spying? Normalizing it.

Companies are attempting to do their best in normalizing spying in order to erode privacy concerns. The usual return I get when discussing privacy is "I have nothing to hide, let them spy on me," which again, is what happens. The more and more people don't care the more invasive it will become and opting in will be more confusing. Kinda similar to how the Windows installation persuades you into creating a Microsoft account.

WIRED has a good take on why Facebook is not listening (in a general way), however we are missing a-first important factor here, data can be deleted. There is no real need to retain any data with how frequent data can be transmitted and sifted (indicated by someone who caught their own smartphone sending personal data). The data could stay, let's say for a day and discarded, still keeping an individual's advertisement portfolio updated. The second important factor is keywords are clearly shared among advertisement platforms. Mass amounts of data need not be transmitted either as it's already consumed by general searches and using searches in various smartphone applications and websites.

That same Wired article was in 2017--not matching what we know today--Facebook did in fact listen to user audio calls.

Facebook confirmed that it had been transcribing users’ audio and said it will no longer do so, following scrutiny into other companies. “Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago,” the company said Tuesday. The company said the users who were affected chose the option in Facebook’s Messenger app to have their voice chats transcribed. The contractors were checking whether Facebook’s artificial intelligence correctly interpreted the messages, which were anonymized. --Bloomberg

I assure you it was not presented to users, as Bloomberg also figured out. Facebook lead users onto believe it was "machine learning."

That is what we're probably going to see in the next few years, a steady approach to normalizing privacy invasion. Be cautious of what you use!


What do you use to chat, socialize and make phone calls? Do you even use the telephone? Let me know in the comments, Discord, or on Twitter!