APPLE HAS TOLD US lawmakers that it isn't listening in on its iPhone users without their consent and doesn't let third-party apps snoop either.
The Cupertino company penned a letter to Greg Walden, an Oregon Republican who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, explaining that Apple doesn't surreptitiously listen in on users while Siri is listening for activation commands.
The letter, seen by Reuters, points out that iPhone users have to specifically approve access to their phone's microphone and apps must display a clear message that they are listening in on Apple fanatics.
Anyone who's used an iPhone will probably already know this, but if we've learnt anything from the probing Mark Zuckerberg got from US senators, America's political bigwigs aren't exactly tech-savvy.
Apple's explanation was prompted by lawmakers citing reports that suggest third-party apps could be snooping on people's conversations while listening out for virtual assistant trigger phrases; think "OK Google", "Hey Siri", and "Hey Alexa".
Cupertino's spokespeople also noted that it removes apps that violate its privacy rules, though the firm didn't say whether it also bans the developers of those apps, or that it can control what third parties do with the data they suck up.
"Apple does not and cannot monitor what developers do with the customer data they have collected, or prevent the onward transfer of that data, nor do we have the ability to ensure a developer's compliance with their own privacy policies or local law," the letter said.
That's some Pontius Pilate washing of hands-style divorcing of responsibility, but at least Apple is upfront about its practices, which is a refreshing break from its insufferably smug secrecy.
Some people are getting ever more savvy about their privacy, especially since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, so there's understandably some paranoia about smart speakers and assistants snooping on folks.
This isn't helped when it appears that changes made in communication app Slack to comply with GDPR essentially allows admins to snoop on private chats. µ
Privacy-aware office worker slams 'authoritarian' AFR tech
Flagship packs a 6.26in screen, quad-cameras and, er, Android Pie
Like, subscribe, and run away with my data
Tor of duty of care