back to article Who's a Siri boy, then? Apple hoards your voices for TWO years

A leading UK privacy warrior has urged Apple to explain itself after the tech titan admitted Siri queries are kept on record for two years. Nick Pickles, director of pressure group Big Brother Watch, spoke out after the iPhone maker today revealed exactly how long it retains questions fired at its voice-controlled personal …

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  1. Naughtyhorse
    Trollface

    Now i hate apple....

    So maybe it is just me, but

    How the fuck can they delete data that has allegedly been anonymised?

    either it ain't anonymised - in which case they are full-o-shit.

    or they can't delete it - in which case they are full-o-shit.

    either way, business as usual from cupertino

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Now i hate apple....

      Another Samsung employee in the house I see....

    2. Steve Todd
      Stop

      Re: Now i hate apple....

      Re-read the article. Data less than 6 months old is associated with the account by dint of an account number (so 3rd parties have no idea who you are). After that the number is deleted from the voice data leaving it completely anonymised and not delete-able).

      1. Naughtyhorse

        Re: Now i hate apple....

        re-re-read the article....

        to quote a great sage on the subject...

        'leaving it completely anonymised and not delete-able'

        pls see my original post!

        QED

        1. Steve Todd
          Stop

          Re: Now i hate apple....

          @Naughtyhorse - I'm not following you. (1) The data is anonymous (at least as far as external and non-privileged viewers are concerned) but delete-able for the 1st 6 months. (2) After 6 months it can't be linked with an account at all and can only be removed by age. Where does it say in the article that data AFTER 6 months is associated and therefore is deleted?\

          The value of the older voice samples to Apple is in tuning their voice recognition software, not what is said.

          1. Naughtyhorse

            Re: Now i hate apple....

            The point at issue is one of an illogical statement

            I get what it is that you fail to understand - you don't need to keep repeating it :-)

            so third time's a charm.

            clause 1:

            apple say that if I discontinue siri they will delete all my data.

            clause 2:

            apple say that after 6 months my data (voice recording) is anonymised

            Given that a) i was dumb enough to buy an iAnything in the first place. and b) after 12 months of asking siri where the nearest ER was and being directed to fan sites devoted to the excellent tv series, I discontinue the service.

            Now, apple have stored every syllable that I have uttered to siri in the previous 12 months, 1/2 of which is tagged with some number that only apple can use to ID me (and I'm sure no amount of money from a data miner would change their mind - wink! wink!) The other 1/2 is still MY data, but anonymised (apart from the fact it's a recording of my voice FFS - so it kinda IS associated with me, what with it being my voice asking 'where's the best place to dispose of a dead body'? for eg) which they, as we have both pointed out, cannot delete, as they cannot identify it, but I or anyone who has engaged me in conversation for any length of time would be able to identify.

            So why are they claiming they can delete all my data?

            It is not possible. Just because they have removed a tag that _they_ use to id my data does not necessarily mean that it can't be identified. It's my voice! In case you are wondering I sound exactly like Morgan Freeman - see what i mean!

            thats all

            1. ThomH Silver badge

              Re: Now i hate apple....

              Apple don't say that if you discontinue Siri then they will delete all your data, only that they'll delete the non-anonymised stuff. The article even has the relevant bit in bold:

              If you turn off Siri, Apple will delete your user data, as well as your recent voice input data. Older voice input data that has been disassociated from you may be retained for a period of time to generally improve Siri and other Apple products and services.

              As to your related point about whether voice data can really be anonymised, they could technically just be keeping the first-level stuff about pitches and rhythms that they extracted from the sound recording, which would identify you only in the same sense that written text with no associated author could identify you, but probably they just mean 'we won't store further user details with it'.

              1. Velv Silver badge
                Stop

                Re: Now i hate apple....

                Yet further down in the article, Apple SPOKESWOMAN Trudy Muller states:

                “Apple may keep anonymised Siri data for up to two years,” Muller said. “If a user turns Siri off, both identifiers are deleted immediately along with any associated data. Our customers’ privacy is very important to us.”

                BOTH IDENTIFIERS

                They have a second identifier that permits them to track +6 months data. It is NOT therefore anonymous, but can be tied to a user. In defence of all commentards, the article contains contradictory information from Apple. But that's just business as usual too.

                Now, no more Fanbois/Fandroid bitching please, it's sunny outside, go put the BBQ on :)

                1. Naughtyhorse
                  Flame

                  Re: Now i hate apple....

                  Reading this thread it is becoming clear the kind of stupid required to be an iPunter

            2. Psyx

              Re: Now i hate apple....

              "apple say that if I discontinue siri they will delete all my data."

              And anonymous data isn't 'yours', to their mind.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                @ "Timestamps"

                Duhhh, hello?

                The database contains everybody's voice recordings.

                You cannot use the timestamps or any other method to delete information belonging to a specific user, if it has been properly anonymised.

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Now i hate apple....

        "After that the number is deleted from the voice data leaving it completely anonymised and not delete-able)."

        Timestamp anyone?

        But really WTF 2 years.

        Still better than the 5 yrs the UK police hold car license plate data

    3. GrantB
      Facepalm

      Re: Now i hate apple....

      Should not respond to trolls, but rather obviously there is metadata associated with every query; location, date/time stamps and user ID/device history etc that is used to give a suitable response.

      After dropping the user id (and location?), purging old records using the date time stamps is a one line SQL delete command.

      Developers working on voice recognition would love being able to replay millions of voice samples before and after algorithm tweaks, but given that storing the data has some cost associated with it (and diminishing returns adding more data), I would imagine Apple are keen to throw it away after a 6 months.

    4. LarsG
      Meh

      Anonymous? Ho ho ho

      Now your soon to be divorced wife knows this, how long before her lawyers demand a copy of your Siri searches....

    5. Chris 3

      Re: Now i hate apple....

      Looks to me as if that quote has been mangled by Wired, or there is something missing:

      “If a user turns Siri off, both identifiers are deleted immediately along with any associated data. " doesn't make sense in context because only one identifier is ever mentioned in the article.

      My guess is that the spokesdroid originally said: “If a user turns Siri off, both identifiers and data are deleted immediately along with any associated data. "

      I also guess that he meant that any data associated with the ID is deleted, because - as you point out - you can't delete data no longer associated with it.

      I have to say that if the data truly *is* dissociated from the ID after 6 months, but kept for 2 years to improve the service, it seems harmless and reasonable.

    6. Tel

      Re: Now i hate apple....

      Frankly I don't care... it's not as if anyone would ask Siri to do anything with their bank account number.

      Basically all Apple has is a bunch of different voices asking about the weather, reminders to pick up shopping and asking the most important questions of all, namely "how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" and "what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?"...

      Apple are hardly going to be equipping a fifth column with that useless information!

    7. the J to the C

      Re: Now i hate apple....

      why are you a member of a tech forum, you clearly are a tad confused here, I would expect that having 2 years worth of human voices to improve a service is a fairly good idea, test data is so hard to find.

      who really cares if they have it, its not like its going to hurt anyone apart from the ones who ask

      find me porn

      talk dirty to me

      how can i switch to a windows phone :)

    8. deadlockvictim Silver badge

      Re: Now i hate apple....

      Do you hate Google with such vehemence as well?

  2. Old Handle
    Trollface

    Uh-Oh

    I bet all those queries you made about where to hide a body don't seem quite so funny now.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Uh-Oh

      Hah!

      > An "accident" occurs

      > Get some gardening tools and hammer

      > "Siri, where do I put bodies into a shallow grave where they won't be discovered for some time?"

      > Siri says where

      > Go there at night

      > Start digging

      > Soil is suspiciously easy to dig through and looks plowed up

      > Discover a few bodies that someone put under somewhat earlier

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Uh-Oh

        but if you are going to bury a body do it deeper and put a dead dog over the body (several feet of earth between them) if a cadaver dog find the body and it's dug up the police will think it was the dead dog, and (hopefully) not dig deeper to find the human body. that's according to reddit anyway.

      2. Silverburn
        Happy

        Re: Uh-Oh

        Siri says where....Go there at night

        FAIL...Siri would direct you to Maps...whereapon you chances of finding said location approaches the same odds as being struck by lightning. Fifteen times. While working in a coal mine.

  3. BeerTokens
    Unhappy

    Anonymised?

    This type of thing can't always anonymised. They may be able to remove the user ID but if the query is write email to jane bloggs, meet me in the highland hotel for some naughty stuff. Signed your very naughty boy.

    this along with a date stamp would make it easier to work out who the composer was.

    Also as it uses the spoken word matching key phases and such like would also enable you to match more than one message together.

    All lots of work but all possible with enough power and that buzz word Big Data.

    1. Eddy Ito Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Anonymised?

      Exactly. If they actually keep the voice recording, presumably to compare it with the query Siri "thought" it was to make the voice recognition better, then amassing one of the biggest voice print databases in the world should make it trivial to do pretty good matches between "anonymised" and known queries.

      It certainly has me wary of the next generation's version of the McCarthy hearings.

      1. Steve Todd

        Re: Anonymised?

        The problem with that is the quantity of data involved in trying to make the link. Which of the millions of users could have dictated the message is near impossible to determine. You'd need to know the exact content of the message to perform a reverse search. It would be much easier to simply search the cell phone companies records if you suspected someone.

        1. Naughtyhorse

          Re: Anonymised?

          " quantity of data involved in trying to make the link."

          you mean like google do a few million times a day.....

      2. Chet Mannly

        Re: Anonymised?

        "amassing one of the biggest voice print databases in the world"

        ...and be able to link that with facial recognition from all those facebook pictures.

        Anonymised after 6 months just means Apple store all the relevant information to your user profile in those 6 months.

        The amount of data private firms are gathering is becoming terrifying.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anonymised?

      Forget that, it is your voice, so some kind of voice pattern analysis maybe?

      Very scary stuff.....

  4. Aoyagi Aichou

    Weird.

    If people are sending their voice snips to some server, don't they expect it at least keeps very detailed statistics, both global and "anonymised personal"? As far as I'm concerned, I understand that "everything I send outside of private network is being stored, analyzed and used for a long period of time"... Not that I like it.

  5. Tom 35 Silver badge

    Why do they even need it 6 months?

    Maybe 6 minutes.

    1. jai

      Re: Why do they even need it 6 months?

      i'm guessing they use all the past data to improve the ability of the current system to understand the different words people say to it. the more data they have, the better the output from their heuristic algorithms. the more real world data you have to work with the better for this type of system.

      i doubt anyone else offering a similar service will be deleting the audio data immediately either.

      1. Flywheel Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: Why do they even need it 6 months?

        I agree, but remember that various law-enforcement agencies might also want to "have a listen" from time to time: I suspect that to all intents and purposes the data's anonymised until the FBI (or Westminster Council) want to link it to a possible suspect. Who needs all that expensive surveillance gear when you consumers will happily buy your own devices to monitor yourselves :-)

  6. stanimir
    Thumb Down

    Voice anon?

    Seriously, it'd be quite easy to connect the voice to any other available voice even if the userId has been "lost".

    That even doesn't touch like write mail to XXX.

    Yeah, what a dishonest statement.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Holmes

    Never Mind Privacy!

    What would they want with all that crap for two years? How on earth did anyone get approval for the resources to store it at all, let alone for years?

  8. Stuart Ball

    Sorry this doesn't ring true, and is possibly a lie. If they are an enterprise with an enterprise backup system that retains tapes off-site for longer than 2 years, it can still be associated with you if the backup is restored within that time period.

    You would need to be able to guarantee the tapes had been destroyed to really be able to say your data is anonymised.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Agreed. This rings true like the "iMessage can't be hacked" shite that was going round last week. If you don't own the encryption key then you have no guarantee.

      When it comes to Apple, networking and security you'll find more privacy from an ashtray on a motorbike.

  9. Rukario
    Alert

    "tell my wife I love her"

    If this is the case, Norman Thavaud could really be in trouble!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "tell my wife I love her"

      « If this is the case, Norman Thavaud could really be in trouble! »

      Hehe, bonne trouvaille ! :)

      1. Rukario

        Re: "tell my wife I love her"

        I'm changing my email signature to read "Envoyé depuis un PC nul dans une salle de réseau pourrie sur un ordinateur de merde."

  10. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Google does the same thing

    Google Voice on Android has a "save samples for better recognition" checkbox but there is zero information on where it's saved (server, I assume) or how long.

    1. SweetBearCub

      Re: Google does the same thing

      Ah Gene, but you forget - Google/Android allows you to still use voice recognition without checking the box to save your queries. They give you a choice in that, unlike Apple.

      1. Aoyagi Aichou

        Re: Google does the same thing

        It never ceases to surprise me how out of the trio Apple / Google / Microsoft, the least evil actually tends to be Google.

        1. MrXavia

          Re: Google does the same thing

          I am not amazed, google may say 'do no evil' but really I see that as is 'be the least evil'

          And even with all their intrusive ads, they are the least evil...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Google does the same thing

            To be honest the "Do no evil" motto for Google has always made me feel uneasy, it tends to suggest they have considered doing evil and need reminding not to or they are using reverse psychology.

            Makes me feel like every time my backs turned Google are rubbing their hands together making BWAHAHAHAHAH! style laughs

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Google does the same thing

        And you can use Gooogle voice recognition completely offline, without sending to the server for processing.

      3. sleepy

        Re: Google does the same thing

        Since your privacy is Google's primary commercial currency, an even higher level of cynicism is warranted than with Apple. It's naive to imagine a switch completely erases all information, just as it's naive to imagine that the "power" switch of any electronic gadget can actually turn it completely off.

        Having servants to do stuff for you has always had the down side that you have to tell them what you want.

  11. Mitoo Bobsworth
    Big Brother

    "Our customers’ privacy is very important to us"

    <-- That's all.

  12. Rogier

    Speech recogniser training

    Speech recognition in the cloud has given companies a reason/excuse to gather masses of training data. The masses of data have improved speech recognition performance a lot in recent years. Either we have good speech recognition and donate our data, or we have bad speech recognition. I actually think the former is a good deal.

  13. Horridbloke

    I quite like the idea...

    ... that somewhere in Wisconsin or Arkansas or wherever a server is holding a painstakingly indexed collection of twenty-odd recordings of me saying "Merry Hill Shopping Centre" from last weekend.

    (In the end I gave up and kept driving to West Quay in Southampton.)

  14. Barrie Shepherd

    Ignoring the obvious why do they need to keep it for so long just how can Apple claim that the data is anonymised?

    They may not store metadata with it like the IMEI / IP you were using but given the advances in voice recognition there will always be the ability to scan the data looking for conversations that match Joe Bloggs voice print.

    1. Steve Todd
      Stop

      Perhaps you can point us in the direction of this magic software

      or maybe you have been watching too much CSI. Scanning millions of samples for a match? You'd be swamped with false positives.

      1. Barrie Shepherd

        Re: Perhaps you can point us in the direction of this magic software

        Start at http://www.nuance.com/for-business/by-solution/customer-service-solutions/solutions-services/inbound-solutions/voice-authentication-biometrics/spid/index.htm

        "Nuance S.P.I.D. (Speaker Identification and Detection) is a comprehensive audio processing system that efficiently searches for a target’s voice within a large volume of intercepted calls, "

        Not magic and if this much information can be published on the interwebs you can bet that more sophisticated tools are available at GCHQ.

        1. Steve Todd
          Stop

          Re: Perhaps you can point us in the direction of this magic software

          That link omits two important pieces of information: Firstly what they define as a large number of intercepted calls. Secondly what the error rate is. Even a 0.1% error rate with a million intercepted messages is 1000 calls to check manually. Thats the problem of false positives, mass searching by machine causes too much manually cross-checking. They tried it with face recognition in London and gave up for that reason.

          1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

            Re: Perhaps you can point us in the direction of this magic software @Steve Todd

            "...mass searching by machine causes too much manually cross-checking."

            For now. With today's technology.

            Sounds like a good time to get some safe guards in place.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Analysis This!

    “What you say to Siri could reveal sensitive things about you, your family, or business. Siri works for Apple, so make a note to yourself to really think before you speak.”

    Jesus is there no escape? All of this privacy raping is keeping me on the sidelines, buying little that's shinny and new and privacy-free. But wait I have an idea. Maybe I should buy an iPhone and use Siri! Now what will I do? Ok, I could start by making a ton of queries and requests about Steve Jobs and SHOWERS and GOLDEN. I wonder how good their anonymizing pre-processors are? How will they analyse that? Either way those things will sit on there for 2 years gestating....

  16. Barbarian At the Gates
    Black Helicopters

    Overlooking the obvious?

    Okay. So, they take off so called personally identifiable information after a certain period of time, eh?

    But it's still a recording of a punter's voice. Do they run the recording through a voice scrambler of some kind then after 6 months?

    I think most people could consider an accurate recording of their voice as potentially being personally identifiable. Potentially identifiable biometric data...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Overlooking the obvious?

      Also if they are keeping the audio to improve acuracy of future versions then they need to know what the original interpretation was. The obvious was to do that is store the interpreted version along with the audio.... much easier to scan thst for personal information than the raw audio

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That also means that an employee at Apple is also listening to it. If someone uses Siri and it gives them wrong information from not understanding what is being asked, then Apple may want to make some changes to the algorithm and then re-run the query. So that means that a human must listen to the query, understand the query and view the results that Siri returns before and after the change. Surely you cannot keep the data to make the product better without validating the changes and that takes human intervention. After all, Siri had an issue the first time and how does one know if the changes resolved the issue without knowing what the result should have been?

    How does Google handle it? I know of Google Voice that when a message is transcribed, you can provide feedback as to if the transcription was accurate or not and if not you can "submit" it to help fine tune the software. At least Google is seeking permission first. Then again, maybe that is just a front and what you do doesn't really matter anyway.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe all of the Siri users should ask Siri several times a day why does Siri invade my privacy and why doesn't delete my data after the result of the query has been delivered? See how big that "unique" ID is when Apple gets an order of magnitude more queries.

    It is also quite clear that Apple has been data mining. Case in point is the fact that queries that once returned nothing started to return something. This shows that Apple was actively working on Siri and that they were taking the queries that returned nothing and listened to them in order to tweak Siri. It wasn't Siri doing that, it was humans.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isn't this a storm in a teacup?

    How many times do you hear the message from a utility company "we may record calls for training purposes".

    How many people have asked or cared what they do with these calls.

    It may sound like "nothing to hide, nothing to fear", which i dont agree with, but just what is it you are saying to Siri that worries you so much?

    Unrelated but, perhaps if people had to stand behind what they say on technology the same way they do in real life, people would not be such trolls and idiots online?

    1. Chet Mannly

      Re: Isn't this a storm in a teacup?

      "How many times do you hear the message from a utility company "we may record calls for training purposes".

      How many people have asked or cared what they do with these calls."

      Well:

      a) they tell you openly in advance

      b) by law they must give you an OPT OUT (at least in Oz),

      c) if they use that data for any purpose other than kicking the a$$ of bad call centre operators they cop massive fines, even imprisonment for those in charge (again in Oz).

      Utility companies are also not trying to track your every move and building a behavioural and marketing database on you. Completely different scenario. Glad I dumped the iPhone when I did.

  20. Paul 87

    A far more realistic answer is that they're admiting to retaining a tape archive of the data. Data older than 6 months is moved off the main storage array, and onto a pile of tapes, which after 2 years, are re-used.

    When any organisation offers a "delete" function, they'll never consider going through archives and disaster recovery media to also remove the data, it just removes it from the "live" system.

  21. Rampant Spaniel

    How can they 'anonymize' your voice? A text message would require something in it to link it to you, but your voice would be trivial to match to all your other voice messages.

    I understand why Apple want the samples but there are days I think I could make good money as a Director of Common Sense in companies like this. The absolute first rule has to be that you must be very upfront with users about what you will take, how long you will keep it and why you need it. Rule 2 would have to be that you allow them to completely delete it or ensure it is not stored in the first place.

    Why do they not just create an app which 'pays' people for reading out text and 'training' siri, throw some folks some credit for the istore and you will get plenty of takers. Sure it will cost, but so does negative publicity. Companies need to understand that hiding something makes you look guilty and someone will always manage to ask an awkward question and find out. Just do it right first time.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    whinge! Whinge! Whinge! Whinge!

    You lot really are a bunch of whingeing retards sometimes.

    If you don't want some megacorp raping your personal data for their own ends, stop fucking giving it to them: read books to find out information, listen to the radio for news, look up telephone directories to find contact info, read road signs and maps for navigation, speak to 'real' people in the 'real' world.

    If, on the other, hand you're too half-witted to make it through the day without "mummy" in the form of Apple / Google / Microsoft / Facebook / Twitter, or whoever spoon-feeding you your daily dose of LOLs, ROFLs and whatever else little knowledge rattles about inside your vacant skulls —then STFU and accept the fact that "mummy" is going to occasionally give you a metaphorical "smack on the botty" as well.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Tikimon Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: whinge! Whinge! Whinge! Whinge!

      Serious lack of imagination here...

      Very soon, there will be no phone books, no newspapers, no old-skull paper info sources. That's fine, we've steadily replaced old information sources with new ones. Clay tablets became a bit clunky, yanno. Here's the trick: Phone books never spied on the user and told strangers who they were looking up. Your car radio didn't tell a giant corporation what you listened to and for how long. Your car didn't tell Ford what addresses you visited and for how long, for Ford to sell on to their "partners". NONE of the Old Skull sources did that, and now ALL of the new sources are being designed with default spying built in.

      This is the root of the problem. We're facing a looming choice between 24/7 monitoring by strangers for profit, or living in a cave. When companies pin their profits on data stealing, they're not going to provide anonymous access anymore, so no more phone books. Improvements in services never had "by using this we're entitled to know and share everything about you" bolted on, and it's unacceptable to do it now.

  23. Michael Thibault
    Facepalm

    Next up...

    Every six months turn off Siri, wait x minutes, then turn it back on... what happens?

    Why would anyone ask a machine for information relative to some questionable, unethical, immoral, and/or illegal activity--past, current, or planned--of their own? Is there anyone that stupid? If so, and you're one of those people, here's a tip: Do shut up!

  24. Christian Berger Silver badge

    What did you expect?

    Of course Apple is going to store the data. That's the whole point about performing the service on their servers and not your mobile device. And it doesn't matter _why_ they store it, since they will have to hand it out on request from anything vaguely resembling a government agency.

    That's why German data protection laws state that you may only store data you actually need to provide your service.

    Of course Apple could have built Siri in a privacy conscious way, but that may have meant adding a bigger battery to do more processing on the client end. (e.g. you could have pre processed the voice into a smaller version which lost many of the speaker dependent quirks like the pronunciation of vowels)

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Siri

    Darn thing never works anyway.

    1. Smallbrainfield

      Re: Siri

      You are Barry Kripke and I claim my five pounds.

  26. Craig 2 Silver badge
    FAIL

    Strange usage of `anonymised` since my voice doesn't have an ID number and it can be easily recognised in a number of ways. Of course, Apple (or any other similar corporation) would never use pattern matching to link `anonymised` voices with recent `known` voices.

  27. Zot
    Happy

    I just presumed Siri listens to everything in the room, regardless of being switched off.

    Then it sends compressed speech-to-text messages relaying the rooms conversions back to Apple for language storage.

    If you start from that premise, everything that Apple actually does won't be a surprise anymore.

  28. guvna

    What did you expect?

    Apple, Google, Microsoft etc will do anything they can to hold onto any data you give them, and they'll have their excuses as to why they need that data, be it genuine or not. Haven't people learned by now that this is the norm these days. Quite frankly, if you're worried that someone's gonna find out about a boil on your bollock, then perhaps siri isn't the best thing to be asking about it.

    Personally, I've already learnt that they will grab all sorts of data out of my phone unless I go very much out of my way to disable such things, but then that makes a few apps and functions not work.

    So what if they know where I am, or what I've asked siri, or even what I've photographed. It's been known that they can do these things, and people need to wise up to this, and either accept it, or go back to your nokia 8210.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Our customers’ privacy is very important to us

    I think he meant to say "valuable", as in "generating lots of dosh"

  30. MrXavia
    WTF?

    Damn! that is scary, I'm glad I've never used this myself... Although I have to admit, I wonder what googles data retention policy is with their voice recognition, which I have used....

    Just think, every query, message reply, appointment you made using siri, is now in siri's database, and the best you can hope for is to loose the last 6 months...

    Scary... very scary....

  31. Ihre versteckte Person

    Bravo etc etc ...

    Well said, Sir/Ma'am/Neuter!

    Just a quick seconding of your nano-rant!

    While it'd be lovely if said Megacorps didn't rape one's personal data, it ain't about to go away. Now or ever. So yes, leave as light an online trace of yourself as is possible. And FFS, nothing is ever truly free (of some sort of cost). Siri free? Yeah. Sure. Same as Gmail/Google. And whatever it is people use from Redmond*

    And yeah, I so have to give a mega-thumbsup to madra's tiny hint to remember how to think, to create knowledge from information, to critically question. Hell, just to remember HOW to work things out for yourself. At least that's what I think madra was suggesting?

    "Ihre versteckten Person" (aka 'your privacy freak')

    *Disclaimer: I have, on sundry devices, for sundry reasons, Win7, Win8, Linux (2 flavours), OS X (two versions) and, sadly also iOS (but buggerall Siri). Oh wait, also 'droid tablet lodged with a family member. So feel free to flame me :-)

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course they need the data

    Of course Apple needs to keep users' Siri interactions--as many as possible for as long as possible--in order to do regression testing for any changes to its algorithms (voice recognition AND semantic parsing) and presumably to perform data mining to identify areas for improvement.

    If you're one of the people who's crying "why oh WHY do they need this data" and don't know the answer, then you really have no business in the computer industry. Go read TMZ instead of El Reg.

  33. Lord Zedd

    Who cares?

    Even Apple can't access the data and doesn't know what the data is.

  34. Peter Mylward
    Flame

    What did you Expect

    What did you expect - a magic, learning voice recognition assistant?

    Of course they are going to keep samples to run algorithms against and of course they are going to tee answers up for questions which are being asked a lot. What do you think the Siri guys are doing with thier time?

    If you are so concerned about your private details then you should get off the internet, and certainly not use a mobile phone. The privacy cat is out of the bag, either get on with it or stop using the kit. No-one is forcing you to use Siri, or GV, or any other flavour of voice recognition app, service, photo storage, mail provider etc etc etc. Before you register for any serice, or use any service, you should be of the mindset that your data will be collected, analysed, possibly sold on and stored. Once you have this in mind, you can make a decision based on which services you want to use based on this trade-off.

    You pays your money you takes your choice, or in the modern world - you use a service you hands over your data.

    There is no point complaining though, else things will not work very well, or you will need to pay for them.

    Rant Over.

  35. WillbeIT
    Holmes

    Its for training

    It is for training the mechanical turk that is Siri. They need the transcription to train the pool of operators that listen to the messages and transcribe them.

    Its true. Check their patents.

    W

  36. The BigYin

    Is justification required?

    With CISPA passing, surely the storing of the data becomes mandatory?

  37. This post has been deleted by its author

  38. NightFox
    Black Helicopters

    Reality Check

    Siri :"beep-beep. What can I help you with?"

    CIA: "Authorisation Code two-zero-three-Alpha: Search voice recording archives"

    Siri: "bip-bip. Authorisation approved. What would you like me to search my voice recordings archive for?"

    CIA: "Plans to carry out terror attacks against USA"

    Siri: "bip-bip"

    {pause}

    Siri: "I'm sorry, I don't understand plaster carrot error a tax again stew say"

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