Apple Must Face Siri Voice Assistant Privacy Lawsuit, US Judge Says

A federal judge on Thursday said Apple is close to facing a proposed class action lawsuit alleging that its voice-activated Siri assistant violates user privacy.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White said the plaintiffs could try to prove Siri regularly recorded their private conversations because of “accidental activation,” and that Apple disclosed these conversations to the public. third parties, such as advertisers.

Voice assistants often react when mobile device owners use “hot words” like “Hey, Siri”.

One Siri user said his private discussions with a doctor about a “brand name surgical treatment” resulted in him receiving targeted ads for that treatment, while Two others said their discussions about Air Jordan sneakers, Pit Viper sunglasses, and “Olive Garden” led them to receive ads for those products.

“Apple apologizes to the plaintiffs for not alleging the content of their communications, but making it private alone demonstrates a reasonable expectation of privacy,” White wrote.

The Oakland, California-based judge said plaintiffs can pursue charges that Apple violated the federal Eavesdropping Act and California’s privacy laws, and committed a breach of contract. He has denied an allegation of unfair competition.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Plaintiffs’ attorneys did not immediately respond to similar requests.

On July 1, another federal judge in California said users of Google’s Voice Assistant, represented by the same law firms as in the Apple case, could pursue a similar lawsuit against Google and its parent Alphabet.

Amazon has faced similar lawsuits over its Alexa voice assistant.

The case is Lopez et al. v. Apple, United States District Court, Northern District of California, number 19-04577.

© Thomson Reuters 2021


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