Thomas le Bonniec, who claims that Apple collects unauthorized data about its customers and violates privacy rights, calls on the European Union for new controls on the use of user information
Privacy is one of the great challenges of technology companies. Protecting the personal data has become one of the main concerns of consumers. In this scenario, a former Apple subcontracted employee has demanded that the European Union open an investigation to the US firm for the treatment of the personal data of its customers.
Former employee claims Apple violated users’ rights
In a letter sent to European regulators, Thomas le Bonniec claims that the tech giant violated the “fundamental rights” of its customers with the voice assistant Siri, present in most of its products. He claims that Siri stored fragments of their private information without your consent and violated their privacy. “It is worrying that Apple, although not only Apple, continues to ignore and violate fundamental rights and continue to collect massive data,” he stressed in a memorandum.
“I am extremely concerned that big tech companies are monitoring entire populations even though European citizens are told that the EU has one of the strictest data protection laws in the world [by the General Data Protection Regulation Data]”, insists Le Bonniec. For this reason, it is even more blunt: “Law enforcement is not successful enough: it must apply to those who infringe privacy.”
How did Apple used its customers data?
Le Bonniec revealed to the British outlet The Guardian last year that, while working for Apple, he listened to private user moments collected by Siri, including medical comments, drug issues, and even sexual intercourse. The company publicly apologized for suspending the review program last year . However, the 25-year-old former employee has asked privacy regulators in Europe to punish the tech giant.
Following the Le Bonniec’s revelations, Apple promised to make drastic changes to its voice assistant program, which had involved thousands of transcriptionists in recent years. After apologizing, Apple promised that the review of the data would be carried out with the consent of the user. “We have found that we have not been living up to our ideals,” Tim Cook, CEO of the company, said in a statement in August last year.
Amazon also had a similar program through Alexa, its voice assistant present in countless technological products such as smart speakers or televisions, just like Google .
Finally, it released a software update in late October that allowed users to choose whether or not to transfer audio snippets to enhance the Siri experience, as well as the option to delete recordings that servers had stored. The company also assured that, unlike its competition, the recordings are never linked to a particular Apple account.
“I listened to hundreds of recordings every day, from various devices such as iPhone, Apple Watch or iPad. This processing was carried out without users knowing and was stored in databases to correct the transcription made by the device,” he says. “The recordings were not limited to users of Apple devices, but audios of family members, children, friends and anyone who might be in the range of the teams were also collected. The system registered everything : names, addresses, messages, searches, comments, background noise, movies,” he stresses.