IBM Places a Ban on Siri at HQ
There's no denying that Siri has made iPhone the smartest option on the market, but some worry that the Siri software may be a little too smart. In truth, Apple has made no secret of the fact that anything you use Siri for becomes their property. According to their user agreement, each time you do a voice search, the data is sent to Apple for analysis. Okay, that's not entirely accurate; the actual text states that the things you say will be recorded and sent to Apple to convert what you say into text (when you use the Siri or Dictation features). In other words, the talk-to-text functionality is not embedded in your phone, or so they claim. But some people are worried that anything they say to Siri is getting stored and used for other purposes (perhaps to tailor ad experiences, perhaps something more nefarious). As a result, at least one company has decided to ban Siri from their headquarters. IBM, like most technology companies, gets a little anxious when it comes to protecting their proprietary information. Hey, tech is a competitive industry and one little slip could mean the difference between launching the latest bit of hardware or having your competitors beat you to the punch. So that they don't want to let Apple and their associates in on private company information is not really that surprising. And considering that many people use Siri's voice functionality to create and send text and email messages, the potential security issues could be gargantuan. Suppose a high-level employee sent an email via Siri containing information about an unreleased product or a merger. Anyone at Apple with access to that information could use it to their own advantage (and the distinct disadvantage of IBM). This is, of course, unethical at the very least (and possibly illegal depending on the usage). But considering that Apple warns Siri users up-front that any information they feed their phone will go directly to Apple, it's unclear whether IBM would have a legal leg to stand on after the fact. Apple's stance on the issue is that they're using the information they gather to enhance the user experience. But that they store it for an undisclosed amount of time is a little disconcerting, as is the knowledge that they do not take steps to make it anonymous. Even Google, which has had similar issues in the past due to their data collection practices, has addressed these privacy issues by opting to make searches anonymous (after nine months) so that tracing distinct connections (IP addresses) in connection to specific searches is nearly impossible. Unfortunately, Apple does not seem inclined to afford their users any such consideration. For the time being they will continue to collect and store data that is input via Siri. And while IBM has not yet banned the use of the iPhone altogether at their headquarters, they have declared a moratorium on the use of Siri pending privacy policy changes. Sorry, Siri, it looks like you're off the guest list at IBM.