Apple have insisted in a letter to US Federal authorities that despite the number of conspiracy theories going around, iPhones only listen to their users when they use the ‘Hey Siri’ trigger phrase.
Apple has also said that there is a clear visual indicator that lets users know when Siri is listening, to a request, or otherwise:
“iPhone doesn’t listen to consumers except to recognize the clear, unambiguous audio trigger ‘Hey Siri,'” Apple’s letter reads. “Apple provides a visual alert when Siri is listening to a user’s request, and Apple’s Developer Guidelines require its developers to display a visual indicator when their app is collecting audio information from the microphone.”
Bit strange that Apple wrote a letter like that out of the blue, isn’t it?
Indeed, it would be if they had.
But Apple have issued the letter in direct response to an inquiry from the Energy and Commerce Committee, which itself sent letters earlier this year to both Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Larry Page, the CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet requesting details about their smartphone data collection practices. (It’s unclear whether Alphabet has responded. The company has so far declined to comment).
The letters requested information about how iPhone and Android devices collect audio and location data. They also sought information about any limits Apple and Google place on developers whouse utiise their apps to collect data from users devices.
Apple also said in its letter that all third party apps on iPhones have to clearly indicate with visual signals when they are listening.
Should I be worried about 3rd party app developers?
Apple also said that when developers specifically violate its privacy terms, their apps are removed from the store. Apple did not name or date any instances when and of this had happened in the past.
So there you go: No your iPhone isn’t listening to everything you do.
Or is it?
No it’s not.