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Thanks to the iOS 9 upgrade, released Sept. 16, users can now set Siri to activate automatically when they say “Hey, Siri.” The function isn’t enabled automatically; system defaults have it turned off. However, for users who turn it on, it means that Siri will listen to every word spoken in its vicinity.
That means the world is entering an era where more audio is going to be recorded than at any point in history. Think you have privacy at a friend’s house? That may no longer be the case. If you’re on the sidewalk, in a mall, or even in a public bathroom with other people, Siri is going to be monitoring you.
Apple’s terms of service also make it clear that the company has a right to know everything about you that Siri knows. “When you use Siri … the things you say and dictate will be recorded and sent to Apple to process your requests. Your device will also send Apple other information, such as your name and nickname; the names, nicknames, and relationship with you (e.g., ‘my dad’) of your address book contacts, song names in your collection,” and other information, the terms state.
That provision of Apple’s terms gained notoriety this year, when a Reddit poster named “FallenMyst” nonchalantly mentioned that they had been working for a company to review conversations that had been harvested by Siri unbeknownst to users. Apple said it was trying to improve Siri’s ability to transcribe speech.