The iPhone doesn’t spy on your conversations, Apple tells lawmakers

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Apple CEO Tim Cook

On Tuesday, Apple Director of Government Affairs Timothy Powderly responded to that letter, in a 19-page document answering each of the questions in detail.

Apple in its response, which it shared with The Washington Post, said that its Siri voice assistant does not collect data unless it hears the trigger phrase, "Hey Siri".

"Apple does not and can not monitor what developers do with the customer data they have collected, or prevent the onward transfer of that data, nor do we have the ability to ensure a developer's compliance with their own privacy policies or local law", Apple wrote.

The new AirPower wireless charger and iPhones are displayed in the showroom after the new product announcement at the Steve Jobs Theater on the new Apple campus in Cupertino, Calif., Sept. 12, 2017.

"The customer is not our product, and our business model does not depend on collecting vast amounts of personally identifiable information to enrich targeted profiles marketed to advertising", the letter reads. Charles Grassley (R-IA), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Those hearings, held at the height of the Cambridge Analytica brouhaha, included testimony by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The letter was written in response to a missive that the congressman had sent to Tim Cook last month. If location services are turned off, the iPhone won't send any data to Apple.

Facebook, which has also been accused of listening to user conversations, said it does not capture data from a microphone or camera without permission. Aside from location data, the letters also wanted to know about how devices collect audio data from user conversations, and sharing that data with third parties. The request follows in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica affair, where a now-defunct political consulting firm created approximately 71 million US voter profiles based on data it had harvested from Facebook without user consent in 2015.

The letter comes in response to an inquiry from Representatives Greg Walden, Marsha Blackburn, Gregg Harper and Robert Latta. Additionally, Apple said Siri does not share spoken words, and that third-party apps need to get explicit approval from users for microphone access. Apple requires RapidSOS to delete messages that contain "Enhanced Emergency Data" collected during 911 calls, such as a caller's estimated longitude and latitude, within 12 hours after receiving it. That reflects what Apple has said in its privacy policies.

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