January 27
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Apple was accused of mass wiretapping users through Siri's voice assistant. 

A former Apple contractor Thomas le Bonniec asked the European regulators to take measures against the company, The Guardian reported.

He noted that despite a public apology from the American corporation, it continues to record and analyze user conversations, thereby violating the basic civil rights of the population. According to him, the corresponding letter was sent to all offices of European regulators involved in monitoring the collection and storage 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,” Le Bonniec noted.

He worked as a subcontractor for Apple in its Cork offices, transcribing user requests in English and French, until he quit in the summer of 2019 due to ethical concerns with the work. 

“They do operate on a moral and legal grey area,” he told the Guardian at the time, “and they have been doing this for years on a massive scale. They should be called out in every possible way.”

“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.

“These practices are clearly at odds with the company’s ‘privacy-driven’ policies and should be urgently investigated by data protection authorities and Privacy watchdogs. With the current statement, I want to bring this issue to your attention, and also offer my cooperation to provide any element substantiating these facts. Although this case has already gone public, Apple has not been subject to any kind of investigation to the best of my knowledge.”

In August 2019, Apple announced the termination of the practice of saving and listening to user interaction records with Siri. The company also noted that all recorded appeals are impersonal. At the end of July, The Guardian reported that Siri audio recordings contain confidential information, and a voice assistant can work and record the user's speech constantly.

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