Apple must confront virtually all of a planned class-action lawsuit alleging that its voice-activated Siri assistant breaches customers’ privacy, a federal court ruled on Thursday. The plaintiffs might try to show that Siri frequently recorded their private talks due to “accidental activations,” and that Apple revealed these chats to third parties, such as marketers, according to US District Judge Jeffrey White.
When users of mobile devices use “hot words” like “Hey, Siri,” voice assistants usually respond.
Two users claimed that their conversations with their doctors about Air Jordan sneakers, Pit Viper sunglasses, and “Olive Garden” resulted in them receiving targeted advertisements for those products, while one says One Siri user claimed that his private conversations with his doctor about a “brand name surgical treatment” resulted in him receiving targeted advertisements for that treatment.
“Apple faults plaintiffs for not alleging the contents of their communications, but the private setting alone is enough to show a reasonable expectation of privacy,” White wrote.
The plaintiffs may pursue allegations that Apple violated the federal Wiretap Act, California privacy law, and breached their contract, according to the judge in Oakland, California. An unfair competition suit was rejected by him.
Requests for comment were not immediately returned by Apple, which is located in Cupertino, California. Similar inquiries were not immediately responded to by plaintiffs’ lawyers.
Users using Google’s Voice Assistant, backed by the same legal firms as in the Apple case, might file a similar action against Google and its parent Alphabet on July 1, according to another federal judge in California. Similar legal action has been brought against Amazon over its Alexa speech assistant.