A federal judge has decided Apple will have to fight nearly all of a proposed class-action lawsuit claiming its devices listen even when a user does not engage with Siri, resulting in a breach of privacy.
Apple to face a class-action lawsuit claiming Siri violates users’ privacy
As reported by Reuters, U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White said the plaintiffs could try to prove Apple’s voice assistant frequently recorded their private conversations because of accidental activations triggered by the “Hey Siri” prompt. In addition, plaintiffs are also claiming Apple shared information gathered from these recordings and shared them with third parties.
One user claims his private discussions with his doctor about a “brand name surgical treatment” resulted in him receiving targeted ads for that treatment. Similar instances include users receiving targetted ads for Air Jordan sneakers, Pit Viper sunglasses, and Olive Garden after discussing those products.
“Apple faults plaintiffs for not alleging the contents of their communications, but the private setting alone is enough to show a reasonable expectation of privacy,” White wrote.
Judge White has said plaintiffs can pursue claims that the Cupertino tech giant violated the federal Wiretap Act and California privacy law, and committed breach of contract. He dismissed an unfair competition claim, the report said.
In 2019, it had become public that Apple had hired contractors to listen to and grade some anonymized Siri conversations for the purpose of improving products and services.
“We know that customers have been concerned by recent reports of people listening to audio Siri recordings as part of our Siri quality evaluation process—which we call grading,” Apple said at the time. “We heard their concerns, immediately suspended human grading of Siri requests, and began a thorough review of our practices and policies. We’ve decided to make some changes to Siri as a result.” Following the backlash, the tech giant added an option to let users delete their voice assistant history and opt-out of sharing audio recordings with the release of iOS 13.2.