Apple-0-7: Is Siri Spying on You?


IBM (IBM) has butted heads with Apple (AAPL) in the past, but this time it's personal.

Big Blue is asking employees to refrain from using Siri -- Apple's ballyhooed digital assistant -- while at work.

This may seem like an odd request at first. IBM isn't Microsoft (MSFT), a company with such deep-rooted hatred for all things Apple that CEO Steve Ballmer reportedly mocked an employee for trying to take his picture at a company meeting with an iPhone three years ago.

IBM doesn't mind if you bring your iPhone to work. Just don't hold down the smartphone's home button long enough to awaken Siri from slumber.

I Wasn't Hitting on Siri, I Swear

Wedged into the iPhone Software License Agreement, Apple warns that "when you use Siri or Dictation, the things you say will be recorded and sent to Apple in order to convert what you say into text."

As Wired magazine points out, the users are agreeing and consenting to letting the company use the voice input and user data to improve the products -- as well as Apple's other products and services.

Is it any wonder why IBM is asking employees not to use Siri while they're at work? The last thing the tech giant wants is someone to use Siri at a time when someone else at the company may be discussing an upcoming IBM product or making a business decision.

It's not just IBM

Wired also points out that American Civil Liberties Union put out a warning for Siri users two months ago.

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"Where is the nearest abortion clinic?" is an extreme example that the ACLU brings up in making the point that consumers need to be careful. Everything that they say to Siri is apparently going to a server farm in North Carolina.

The ACLU offered a way out two months ago. iPhone owners can go into their phone's "settings" tab, tap "general," and then Siri. Sliding the Siri option to "off" results in Apple deleting the user data and any recent vocal recordings. Apple may still keep older recordings, but only after they have been "disassociated" -- or not connected to the -- identifiable user data.

So the next time you see Apple's ad starring Samuel L. Jackson preparing for dinner at home with Siri's assistance, know that the night's details are going somewhere.

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Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of International Business Machines, Microsoft and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple and Microsoft, and creating bull call spread positions in Apple and Microsoft.

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