Your iPhone And Android Are Listening To You 24/7 And Sending Recordings To 3rd Parties; How To Kill Siri
Smartphones like the iPhone and Android have become a ubiquitous and necessary part of life. People generally keep their smart phones on their person practically 24/7, whether its in their pocket, on their work desk, or right next to them while they sleep, because smartphones are so essential for work and personal life. Most people actually have a mini panic attack if their phone goes missing for even a minute, and a full blown panic attack if they actually lose their phone.
It has come to light that smartphones are listening to you 24/7 and sending the recordings to 3rd parties, if you do not take the proper steps to stop it. For example, iPhone has Siri, an artificial intelligence that answers your questions. The default settings is that if you say “Hey Siri” then Siri will activate. Unfortunately, this does not work as it should. Oftentimes, simply saying the word “seriously” will activate Siri. This has undoubtedly caused numerous awkward moments where someone says seriously in a conversation, and then the phone is asking “What can I help you with?”. Also, zippers are a common trigger that activate Siri, such as when is getting dressed or undressed, possibly when having sex.
In order to listen for the activation phrase “Hey Siri”, the iPhone listens to everything it hears while it is on. This means there is zero privacy when a smartphone is in your presence.
It gets worse. Siri records a clip ranging from a few seconds to 30 seconds when it is activated, and this recording is sent to a 3rd party contractor that is tasked with the job of improving Siri. Basically, most of Siri’s artificial intelligence is derived from human workers listening to how Siri functions and improving its algorithms and responses.
An Apple whistleblower who has remained anonymous out of fear of losing their job says “There have been countless instances of recordings featuring private discussions between doctors and patients, business deals, seemingly criminal dealings, sexual encounters and so on. These recordings are accompanied by user data showing location, contact details, and app data.”
So not only is Siri listening to intimate situations and conversations that are meant to be private, it also sends the user’s location, identity, and app usage data simultaneously to 3rd parties. This is a catastrophic and unacceptable breach of privacy, and there is no guarantee that this data is not being used by law enforcement or for corporate espionage. Hackers could also theoretically intercept this data.
Apple smart watches and home pods also infringe on privacy via the Siri functionality, in addition to Android phones via Ok Google and the Amazon Echo via Alexa, as well as Microsoft’s Cortana on Windows computers. Essentially, the biggest tech companies Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon are all using similar tactics to record personal information via artificial intelligence assistants.
The data from Siri and other artificial intelligence assistants is also being sent to 3rd party apps like Facebook. An iPhone user was discussing a trip to Japan with their friend, and ads for flights to Tokyo began to appear on their Facebook. The user then talked about going back to university, and ads for universities began to appear on their Facebook. This is proof that the iPhone is listening 24/7 and sending this data to Facebook for advertising purposes, and possibly to other 3rd party apps as well.
How To Kill Siri
However useful Siri or other assistants like Alexa and Ok Google may be, it is not worth the invasion of privacy. The evidence clearly demonstrates that smartphones, home pods, and smart watches are listening 24/7 and sending your personal conversations as well as identification information, location, and app data to 3rd parties, and it is not out of the question that this data can end up in the hands of law enforcement or criminals. It is therefore critical to turn off Siri, Alexa, and Ok Google.
On an iPhone simply go to settings and then select “Siri & Search”. At least turn off “Hey Siri” and the phone will theoretically stop listening 24/7, but Siri could still be activated by holding the home button. There is no guarantee that Siri is not still listening however. To truly kill Siri, which is what Cypherpunk Labs recommends, turn off “Press Home for Siri” and then you will be prompted to hit the Siri kill switch.
However, apparently the iPhone still sends all your search data to Apple even if Siri is totally off, and you must turn off “Suggestions in Search” and “Suggestions in Look Up”.
Even turning off all these things does not make your iPhone truly private. A future Cypherpunk Labs article will detail how to stop all of the invasions of privacy that are happening on your iPhone.