It’s a day ending in “Y” so that means yet another company CEO is on the news apologizing for exposing your PII to the internet. This time around it’s Capital One CEO Richard Fairbank having to say sorry for letting a hacker get access to approximately 100 million US and 6 million Canadian credit card applications. While Capitol One was quick to try to downplay the severity of the the incident, asserting that no credit card numbers were stolen, there is no sidestepping the fact that the hacker, who has since been arrested, was attempting to sell information that includes 140K US Social Security numbers, 1 million Canadian Social Insurance numbers and 80,000 bank account numbers, as well as an undisclosed number of names, addresses, credit scores, limits and balances.
Not feeling violated enough yet?
To add to everyone’s continuing dystopian nightmare this week, Apple was recently caught in a glaring contradiction to its ongoing marketing message of being a champion of its users’ privacy. Despite buying huge billboards touting that “what happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone”, a whistleblower has shared damning details on Apple’s use of contractors who have access to numerous private and very sensitive audio snippets recorded by Siri. According to Apple, only a small number of Siri requests are reviewed by humans for accuracy and algorithm tuning, and supposedly these small audio files are semi-anonymized to protect user privacy. Not so, says the whistleblower. As anyone who uses a voice-activated device can attest, Siri and its ilk can perk an ear up even when not being directly addressed, resulting in plenty of unintended recordings that people would definitely not want shared.
“…you can definitely hear a doctor and patient, talking about the medical history of the patient. Or you’d hear someone, maybe with car engine background noise – you can’t say definitely, but it’s a drug deal … you can definitely hear it happening. And you’d hear, like, people engaging in sexual acts that are accidentally recorded on the pod or the watch.”Anonymous Apple Contractor to The Guardian, 26JUL2019
An important distinction needs to be made with regards to Apple’s voice recognition data gathering practices, especially since they themselves take great pains to tout their privacy advocacy. While Google and Amazon both allow some opt out options on the use of their recordings, Apple does not offer this option short of disabling Siri altogether.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net