Siri whistleblower goes public, wants Apple to be punished

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The whistleblower who revealed how private contractors overheard Apple Siri conversations says Apple should face consequences

The whistleblower who leaked information to Guardian about the practice of private contractors listening to Siri conversations of iPhone users has gone public with his accusations. The whistleblower, now identified has Thomas le Bonniec has written a letter to European Union detailing how iPhone owners’ private conversations were overheard by contractors working on improving Apple’s intelligent assistant.

Bonniec had leaked the details of Siri conversations not being private as was supposed to be. He at that time had chosen to remain anonymous. The report on Guardian created quite a furor at that time with iPhone users wanting an explanation from Apple for listening to their conversations. Bonniec revealed that Apple was using contractors to review interactions with Siri – and that some of the recordings were clearly triggered accidentally.

Apple initially defended the Siri grading program before later apologizing for it. After the outcry got louder, Apple suspended the program. But in August 2019, Apple said it was reinstating the Siri Grading program but only for those iPhone users who signed up for the service.

Bonniec has now decided to come out in open to seek punishment against Apple. He has written a letter to the European Union, calling for Apple to face the consequences of its privacy failure. The letter sent to all the European data protection regulators states,

It is worrying that Apple (and undoubtedly not just Apple) keeps ignoring and violating fundamental rights and continues their massive collection of data. I am extremely concerned that big tech companies are basically wiretapping entire populations despite European citizens being told the EU has one of the strongest data protection laws in the world. Passing a law is not good enough: it needs to be enforced upon privacy offenders. The recordings were not limited to the users of Apple devices, but also involved relatives, children, friends, colleagues, and whoever could be recorded by the device. The system recorded everything: names, addresses, messages, searches, arguments, background noises, films, and conversations. I heard people talking about their cancer, referring to dead relatives, religion, sexuality, pornography, politics, school, relationships, or drugs with no intention to activate Siri whatsoever.

Thomas Le Bonniec

Bonniec says Apple got away cheaply with an apology for the Siri grading and contractors overhearing iPhone users’ private conversation. He wants the EU data commissioners to impose stiffer penalties on Apple for the privacy breach.

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"The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had." Eric Schmidt

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