On Thursday, a federal judge said that Apple must face almost all proposed class actions, claiming that its voice-activated Siri assistant violated users’ privacy.
US District Judge Jeffrey White stated that the plaintiffs can try to prove that Siri often records their private conversations because of “accidental activation” and that Apple disclosed these conversations to third parties, such as advertisers.
When mobile device owners use “hot words” such as “Hey, Siri”, the voice assistant usually responds.
A Siri user said that after he had a private discussion with a doctor about “branded surgical treatment”, he received a targeted advertisement for the treatment, while two other users said that they were interested in Air Jordan sneakers, Pit Viper sunglasses and ” “Olive Garden” discussions led them to receive advertisements for these products.
White wrote: “Apple accuses the plaintiffs of not accusing them of the content of their communications, but the private environment alone is sufficient to demonstrate a reasonable expectation of privacy.”
The judge in Oakland, California said that the plaintiff may file a claim for breach of the federal wiretapping laws and California privacy laws and breach of contract by Apple. He dismissed an unfair competition claim.
Apple, based in Cupertino, California, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The plaintiff’s lawyer did not immediately respond to similar requests.
On July 1, another federal judge in California stated that users of Google’s voice assistant, represented by the same law firm as the Apple case, can file similar lawsuits against Google and its parent company Alphabet.
Amazon is also facing similar lawsuits regarding its Alexa voice assistant.
The case is Lopez et al v. Apple, United States District Court, Northern District of California, No. 19-04577.
© Thomson Reuters 2021