Of all the companies you suspect might want to listen to the things you say or record parts of your conversations with their devices, it’s Apple who told legislators that iPhones do not. Representatives Greg Walden, Marsha Blackburn, Gregg Harper and Robert Latta said that smart phones could “collect” unresolved “audio data from users’ calls near a smartphone to hear a trigger phrase such as” Okay Google “or” Hey Siri, “Asked both Apple and Google CEOs to comment on the issue.
Apple sent a letter in response, as seen by Reuters saying that iPhones do not record audio while listening to Siri commands and Siri does not share spoken words . The company added that it is required that users explicitly approve microphone access and that apps must display a clear signal they are listening.
It is unclear whether Alphabet, the parent company in Google, responded to US legislators but a spokesman House Energy and Commerce Committee said “Both companies have so far been cooperative. The committee looks forward to reviewing and analyzing the answers when we consider the next step. “
Google obviously has a smart voice-enabled assistant available on Android phones, but also home-based intelligent speakers. Apple’s Siri is also featured on HomePod. But, of the two companies, Apple is more likely to protect user integrity, voice interactions
What’s interesting is that the legislators only focus on smartphones, but they should extend their reach to smart speakers. There is, nevertheless, a big elephant in the room missing here. It’s Amazon that does not some of their own smartphones but whose Alexa assistant is the best-selling voice assistant at home. And we all remember how, a few months ago, some Echo speakers discovered that their devices recorded some of their conversation and then sent that audio file to a contact. Everything that happened without the express consent of the user.
Again to Apple’s response to the congress it is interesting to note that Apple said it removed apps from the App Store for breach of integrity but refused to say if it had ever banned any developer and said it’s up to devs to tell the users why the app has been removed.
In addition, Apple took up customer usage and said it “can not and can not monitor which developers are dealing with the customer data they have collected or prevent further data transfer, and we also can not make sure that the developer follows their own privacy policies or local laws. “