When the Apple he thinks he has gotten rid of a problem, something (or, in this case, someone) shows that not everything that happened has, in fact, been forgotten. I speak of the great problem of privacy for which the company was denounced last July, involving the Crab.
In case you don’t remember, I will refresh your memory: about ten months ago, an employee of a company hired by Apple to analyze excerpts from audio collected by Siri anonymously reported that he (and other contractors) often listened to recordings of private / personal conversations of users.
Although Apple responded promptly that all audios were collected anonymously, the outsourced official said that in some cases the section collected was so long that it was possible to profile that person. The situation became so suspicious for the Apple side that it suspended the audio analysis and, with the launch of iOS 13, made the collection of these interactions with Siri optional.
That said, months have passed and little has been said about this problem again – it is likely that many people have even forgotten about this event. Now, however, the former outsourced employee who denounced this whole scheme has come out in protest at the lack of actions and investigations against Apple. The information is The Guardian.
Thomas le Bonniec sent a letter to all European regulatory and data protection bodies announcing their decision; in it, he also says that the fact that Apple (and not just her) «continues to ignore and violate fundamental rights is worrying».
I am extremely concerned that the big tech companies are basically intercepting entire populations, especially when European citizens are informed that the European Union has one of the strongest data protection laws in the world. Passing a law is not enough: it must be applied to privacy violators.
He further said that it was not only Apple customers who (directly) had their privacy violated, but also others close to the owners of iGadgets:
The recordings were not limited to the owners of Apple devices, but also involved relatives, friends, colleagues and whoever else could be recorded by the device. The system recorded everything: names, addresses, messages, searches, arguments, background noise, movies and conversations. I heard people talking about cancer, referring to dead relatives, religion, sexuality, pornography, politics, school, relationships or drugs, all with no intention of activating Siri.
The former employee continues:
I listened to hundreds of recordings every day, from various Apple devices, such as iPhones, Apple Watches and iPads. […] These processing were done without the users’ knowledge and were gathered in databases to correct the transcription of the recording made by the devices.
Despite not mentioning the (aforementioned) changes that Apple has made to its policy since last year’s complaints, the former employee seems more focused on the fact that the company has emerged «unscathed» from this major privacy problem.
Neither Apple nor European bodies have responded to the allegations, for the time being.
Update, for Eduardo Marques May 21, 2020 at 16:23
THE Reuters reported that after contacting Thomas le Bonniec (calling for more privacy protections under European laws), the Irish Data Protection Commission is talking to Apple about the matter.
Deputy Commissioner Graham Doyle said the agency was in contact with Apple when the problem first arose – and that the company made some changes to the process – but that the commission now has other questions to ask.
We’ll see what happens.