A lawsuit regarding Siri and privacy issues has returned to life. A federal judge says Apple must face nearly all of a proposed class action lawsuit claiming that its voice-activated Siri assistant violates users’ privacy, reports Reuters.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White said the plaintiffs could try to prove Siri routinely recorded their private conversations because of “accidental activations,” and that Apple disclosed these conversations to third parties, such as advertisers.
The lawsuit was filed on Aug. 7, 2019, and alleged that Apple violates several California laws, including the California Invasion of Privacy act. This seemed to be in response to concerns raised by a Guardian story over how recordings of Siri queries are used for quality control.
Following the report, Apple suspended the program and said it would review the process that it uses, called “grading,” to determine whether Siri is hearing queries correctly, or being invoked by mistake. Apple said it would also issue a software update that will let Siri users choose whether they participate in the grading process or not.
The Guardian report claimed Apple contractors regularly hear confidential medical information, drug deals, and recordings of couples having sex, as part of their job providing quality control, or grading, Siri. The article added that, although Apple doesn’t explicitly disclose it in its consumer-facing privacy documentation, “a small proportion of Siri recordings are passed on to contractors working for the company around the world.”
The lawsuit included a request for a court ruling that Apple has violated California’s privacy laws and civil code. Also, it demanded that the tech giant must delete all recordings of class members and take measures to prevent further recording of the class members without their consent.
In February 2021, Apple won a ruling that tossed out the consumer lawsuit that alleges the tech giant’s voice-activated software records conversations without user consent. However, Judge Jeffrey White in Oakland, California, said the suit could be revised and refiled.