Just this January, Apple featured a billboard at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone,” the billboard stated. The recent news that Apple had contractors listening to Siri conversations for quality control—and that these contractors sometimes had access to deeply personal conversations—debunks this claim. While this news is unsettling, it brings up something important that we all need to know—and talk about: when we use voice assistants like Siri, whatever we say no longer belongs to us. The voice-to-text travels off the device, into the cloud and outside of our control.
Being on the hook for free services to friends and family members is a well-known risk for many professionals. Doctors get called in the middle of the night to see sick nieces and nephews, attorneys advise their siblings on traffic violations and airline employees are hunted down by everyone for those free standby certificates. But as a technology professional, I can say that we have it arguably worse than anyone else; “Can you set up my Wi-Fi?”, “Do I have enough encryption?” And if you think that the barrage of requests is not bad enough, you haven’t heard the complaints! “That phone broke within three months!”, “I dropped my router while dusting and now my WiFi is out!”.