Apple’s Dictation Feature and Privacy

  • at July 26, 2012
  • by Kroy
  • in apple
Comments Off on Apple’s Dictation Feature and Privacy

Apple Voice DictationBefore you use the Dictation feature on Apple’s new Mountain Lion OS, be sure to read the Privacy notice:

“When you use the keyboard dictation feature on your computer, the things you dictate will be recorded and sent to Apple to convert what you say into text. Your computer will also send Apple other information, such as your first name and nickname; and the names, nicknames, and relationship with you (for example, “my dad”) of your address book contacts.  All of this data is used to help the dictation feature understand you better and recognize what you say. Your User Data is not linked to other data that Apple may have from your use of other Apple services.” 

(Emphasis mine). So it’s similar as with Siri, Apple’s voice guided assistant on iPhone 4S and soon iPad 3. I think that’s creepy. Who knows what Apple can and might do with your data. Sure, most people think they have “nothing to hide”, but that’s not what it’s about. To a smart marketer, there’s always a way your data can be used. Always.

Paranoid? Yes. You should be too.

The information Apple and its partners can glean from disclosing so much personal information could be misused in many ways. It’s the way this privacy notice is worded that leaves a lot of doors open. “Sent to Apple” could mean anything from sending your voice to automated, unattended data centers owned by Apple, or it could mean it’s sent to third party data centers  (that Apple contracts out to, but doesn’t entirely control) other people can manipulate and access at will. Apple says your user data is not linked to other data Apple may have from your use of other Apple devices. But it doesn’t say it’s not being linked to any other data from any other devices you may use. Just not ones from Apple.

The NSA is building the country’s largest spy center in Utah, and its purpose is to store and filter domestic communications – emails, texts, phone calls, and so forth. Maybe your Siri or Dictation Feature musings will end up there too, who knows. Unless Apple can ensure that your data is absolutely anonymous, there’s always a chance someone figures out a way to use what you say against you. Might be creepy marketers who know the most intimate details about you, or it might be a rogue Apple employee with nothing better to do than to play around with user data. The point is, know what you’re getting in to before you open your mouth. Literally.



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