Apple has tried to justify the privacy protections it has in place for iPhone microphone use following concerns that it was breaching the law and recording users’ calls without their consent.
The company, along with Google parent Alphabet, was asked by U.S. lawmakers in July whether its smartphones were overhearing and recording users’ conversations via third party apps as those apps tried to detect a ‘trigger’ phrase, such as ‘Okay Google’ or ‘Hey Siri’, Reuters reports.
Lawmakers said they were prompted to reach out to Apple due to reports suggesting that microphone triggers meant third-party apps were accessing data beyond that which users were knowingly passing onto them.
In response to the series of inquiries sent by four lawmakers to Chief Executive Tim Cook, Apple wrote back on Tuesday saying that it does not record audio while listening for Siri wakeup commands, nor does Siri share words that it hears from users. In addition, Apple pointed out that users are always asked to approve microphone access, and that the company requires apps to disclose when they are accessing users’ microphones. In sum, Apple argued, it’s down to the user to be on the lookout.
The news comes a month after Samsung mobile phone owners were up in arms over their own user privacy, when claims were made on Reddit and Samsung-hosted forums that several of the latter’s smartphone models were randomly sending photos to a cell phone’s contacts.