Originally posted at Washington Post by Rachel Lerman
Tech companies have long encouraged putting listening devices in homes and pockets, attempting to convince consumers to rely on their voice assistants for any little need that pops up. But some are growing concerned that these devices are recording even when they’re not supposed to — and they’re taking their fears to the courts.
On Thursday, a judge ruled that Apple will have to continue fighting a lawsuit brought by users in federal court in California, alleging that the company’s voice assistant Siri has improperly recorded private conversations.
The judge said that most of the lawsuit could move forward, despite Apple’s request to have it thrown out. Judge Jeffrey S. White, of federal district court in Oakland, did dismiss one piece involving users’ economic harm. But he ruled that the plaintiffs, who are trying to make the suit a class action case, could continue pursuing claims that Siri turned on unprompted and recorded conversations that it shouldn’t have and passed the data along to third parties, therefore violating user privacy.
The case is one of several that have been brought against Apple, Google and Amazon that involve allegations of violation of privacy by voice assistants. The technologies, often referred to by their names — Siri, Alexa and, predictably, Google — are meant to help with everyday tasks. They connect to speakers and can play music, or set a timer or add an item to a shopping list. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
The companies deny that they are listening to conversations for any purpose other than the intended ones of helping with tasks or playing music. Amazon spokeswoman Faith Eischen said in a statement that Amazon only stores audio when devices detect the wake word and only a “small fraction” of audio is manually reviewed. She also said users can manage their recordings and opt-out of reviews…
Read more at Washington Post
Download PDF here