Following on from a Wired report yesterday concerning the ambiguity and confusion on how long Siri keeps hold of your private data when you speak to it, Apple has stepped out today to clarify that in actual fact, the voice recognition software will store that information for a two year period. Wired’s report prompted Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller to call up the tech publication to clarify a few points pertaining to Siri’s policies. Therein, she explained that “Apple may keep Siri data for up to two years,” but also noted that this data is anonymized, and thus would not associate with yourself or any of the products you may use.

The rationale behind the storage of data is to help make Siri a better service in general, and in order to improve its proficiency, your utterances are subsequently sent through to Apple after you’ve said them. Going on to reiterate that customer privacy is extremely important to Apple, Muller explained that random numbers are generated in representation of the user, and thus any voice subsequent voice clips sent in via said device can be linked. Since neither the Apple ID or email address are used in this chain, Siri’s database can only identify subsequent voice clips and associate them as coming from the same device – they do not store a shred of your personal information.

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After a six month period, the number is no longer associated with the clip, but the files remain for a further 18 months for any possible analysis thereafter. Once two years has passed, all data is removed, but if a user decides to switch Siri off at any time, all data (as well as numbered identifiers) are deleted immediately.

American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Nicole Ozer questions why such information isn’t already a part of the Siri Privacy policy within the Siri FAQ, which is an interesting and just query to make. Transparency is a feature to which all companies should abide, in particular when dealing with users’ private data, and even more so when talking about a company and brand boasting the kind of influence Apple has.

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It’s certainly food for thought, and since you’re now under no illusions to the fact that Siri is listening, maybe you’ll take a pause and think twice before you say anything to it.

(via: Wired)

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