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Apple Denies Conspiracy Theory That iPhones ‘Listen’ to Conversations

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Apple claims that iPhones don’t secretly record conversations of users — and the smartphones do not “listen in” on these conversations.

The tech company was responding to a U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee inquiry about concerns regarding Apple’s consumer privacy. The lawmakers asked Apple about reports that third-party developers could collect audio “non-triggered”, from conversations between users near a smartphone, in order to hear a “trigger” phrase.

iPhone doesn’t listen to consumers except to recognize the clear and unambiguous audio trigger “Hey Sir“, Apple stated in an Aug. 7 letter to Rep. Greg Walden (R.Ore.), chairman, Energy, and Commerce Committee.

Apple claims that the iPhone’s speech recognition app runs in a “short buffer” and doesn’t record or send audio to Siri unless the user triggers it. Apple also requires developers to consent to access the microphone of a user and to present a visual indicator to indicate when iPhones are collecting audio information.

American representatives had also asked Apple directly if it “collects audio recordings of users unconsented,” to which Apple replied simply, “No.”

Timothy Powderly, Apple’s director for federal governmental affairs, wrote that “We believe privacy to be a fundamental human right and purposely design products and services in order to minimize our collection.” “The customer isn’t our product. Our business model doesn’t depend on large amounts of personally identifiable data to enhance targeted profiles that are marketed to advertisers.

Subtext: Apple isn’t like Facebook. This has been the focus U.S. investigations following revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a consulting firm, improperly obtained data from millions of Facebook users.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has previously criticized Facebook and stated that his company views privacy as a “human right”. Cook replied, “What would you do?” “I wouldn’t be here.”

In July, the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a similar inquiry to Alphabet CEO Larry Page. It is not known if Alphabet has yet to respond.

Apple responded to the committee by stating that it had removed App Store apps due to privacy violations. Developers must inform users if an app is being removed from the App Store for privacy reasons. Apple also stated that it does not monitor or prevent developers from using customer data collected by them.

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