IBM worries iPhone's Siri has loose lips



IBM does not allow the use of Siri, Apple’s new digital assistant as a part of the work environment.

This is due to the fact that Siri ships everything said to a big data center in Maiden, North Carolina. In IBM’s mind (and others as well) it is not sure that this information is not stored somewhere within this facility.

IBM CIO Jeanette Horan told MIT's Technology Review this week that her company has banned Siri outright because, according to the magazine, "The company worries that the spoken queries might be stored somewhere."

Apparently, Siri “learns” by storing and reusing previously entered information. As per the Apple iPhone Software License Agreement "When you use Siri or Dictation, the things you say will be recorded and sent to Apple in order to convert what you say into text," It goes on to say, "By using Siri or Dictation, you agree and consent to Apple's and its subsidiaries' and agents' transmission, collection, maintenance, processing, and use of this information, including your voice input and User Data, to provide and improve Siri, Dictation, and other Apple products and services."

IBM is not the only one concerned; the American Civil Liberties Union put out a warning about Siri just a couple of months ago.

The real issue here is one of privacy. If just knowing where someone is at any given time is a concern or violation of a non-disclosure agreement, then the ability to capture information that will eventually form a personal profile is a significant concern. Apple representatives go on to say that they are not concerned, "I really don't think it's something to worry about," he says. "People are already doing things on these mobile devices. Maybe Siri makes their life a little bit easier, but it's not exactly opening up a new avenue that wasn't there before."

Other companies, like Google have related privacy concerns over how search information is stored. Google counteracted that concern by making search information anonymous (after 9 months).

Editor Comments

When Apple first announced Siri, it became immediately evident that there are privacy and security concerns. In fact, this curator refuses to use the feature because of these concerns. This is not to say that there aren’t ways in which this information can be protected, but the article implies that the profit objective was given implicit priority over security/privacy.

While many manufacturers, service providers and advertisers are taking advantage of presence features, and there is a growing demand for personalization, there is an inherent cost and risk associated with these capabilities that should not be ignored. While it is expected that enterprises capture and protect a certain amount of personal information, the idea that a third-party has access to where an individual is at any given time as well as what they are doing, is of major concern.

Call to Action

CXO’s should be wary of rolling out any technology that can compromise enterprise and/or individual security and privacy. In fact, there are many enterprises that have banned any Android-based devices based on the concern that the android platform and its associated applications are not secure.

Full Article:

IBM worries iPhone's Siri has loose lips, Robert McMillan, Wired, May 24, 2012

Related Articles:

U.S. government, military to get secure Android phones, Mark Milian, CNN, February 3, 2012