Catholic University law school alumna Anne McKenna, 1994, was interviewed on May 29, 2012, by Fox Baltimore news anchor Jennifer Gilbert to discuss privacy concerns and the collection of personal data by Apple through Siri, the company’s voice-command response system that is designed to serve as a sort of personal butler for iPhone owners.
“Siri is recording all of your voice commands to it, and it's sending it to Apple. Apple is storing all of that data,” said McKenna, who has co-authored works on electronic privacy issues with Columbus School of Law Professor Clifford Fishman.
McKenna is principal in the Baltimore-based law firm of ToomeyMcKenna Law Group, LLC, which handles eavesdropping, wiretapping, and cellular law among other legal issues.
The iPhone has been a huge hit for Apple, but the company demands that users of the Siri system sign an agreement that permits personal data to be collected and stored.
Some employers such as IBM do not permit their workforce to use the Siri-based phones for company business, said McKenna.
“Siri can send an email or a text message. So if you’re in a workplace and you’re sending sensitive company information over an email that Siri is sending for you, Apple is gathering that data,” McKenna pointed out.
McKenna, who also teaches a course as an adjunct professor at The Catholic University of America on privacy, surveillance, and media law, said there is a function on the iPhone that allows Siri to be deactivated, thus enhancing privacy, but that many users simply forget to use it or don’t know how.