Hey Siri, are you protecting me?

 

If you are like myself, you must have discovered the convenience and occasional enjoyment that talking to your phone can provide. I am not referring to making a phone call or aimlessly chatting at your devices like a crazy person, instead I mean making commands to our personal artificial intelligence Siri (or whatever other system non apple devices use). Being able to yell ‘Siri, put an alarm on for 8am’ before bed or asking for the weather in the morning, must have saved me multiple seconds of time on a daily basis. Upon reflection however, the ‘how’ of these functioning technologies becomes slighting alarming. To know the weather for example, requires the phone to know the location of where I am. While I appear lucky to be an Apple convert, because they aren’t selling off my data like other companies (see tweet below), I still want to know a bit more about the mysterious Siri.

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Image: 015 of 365‘ by Yogesh Mhatre, CC (By 2.0)

 

The habits of people using Siri or one of its rival counterparts have found to be significantly influenced by environmental factors (Moorthy & Vu 2015). After research was undertaken, participants in the study were found to be more cautious about disclosing information through voice activated programs. This showed how people are still unaware about how the intricacies of the technology that can cause hesitations. Privacy was still the primary concern for users, as seen by the significantly amplified caution for using voice-activated programs in public. Another study by Humphreys (2005) further showed that privacy is a concern for mobile users. While using cell phones in public, different body language techniques were used to create private space such as the turning of the head, looking away and not making eye contact with others in the public or engaging in other activities in the appearance of being preoccupied.

 

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Image: Phone Manners‘  by  Jellaluna, CC (By 2.0)

Not actually knowing if there were genuine fears and concerns about the Siri technology, I decided to perform some research to gain a better understanding of how the technology works.

The general premise of how it works is this; once you have spoken your phone sends those audio files to a remote server. These files are then translated into a text command that can be analysed and is finally fed back to your phone to create a response (Damopoulos et al 2013). While this is all through safe servers and a secure process, if someone were able to infiltrate this program… think of the access they would have. Asking Siri to call someone gives access to your contacts or asking for directions gives away your location.

 

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Image: (Damopoulos et al 2013, fig. 9)

The above table shows how a hijacked Siri program could steal sensitive information such as your passwords (in a relatively more educated and specific manner than I ever could). Pretty much the take away is they redirect your voice messages and generate their own questions and response instead. The sad thing is that if I were trying to send an email and was asked to confirm my details, I wouldn’t have even questioned it…. well until now.

 

While there are many failsafe’s and protections in place to protect our information, it still doesn’t completely protect us from hacking (see tweet below). One of the wonders and benefits of technology is how it is rapidly changing and making the lives of its users easier. But for not only me but also yourself, please just be wary about what you say to your ‘friend’ Siri.

References:

Damopoulos, D, Kambourakis, G, Anagnostopoulos, M, Gritzalis, S & Park, J 2013, ‘User privacy and modern mobile services: are they on the same path?’, Personal & Ubliquitous Computing, vol. 17, no. 7, pp. 1437-1448, doi: 10.1007/s00779-012-0579-1

Humphreys, L 2005, Cellphones in public: Social interactions in a wireless era, New media & society, vol. 7, no. 6,  810-833, doi: 10.1177/1461444805058164

Moorthy, A, & Vu, K 2015, ‘Privacy Concerns for Use of Voice Activated Personal Assistant in the Public Space’, International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, vol. 31, no. 4, pp. 307-335, Science Citation Index

Images:

Jellaluna 2011, Phone Manners, photograph, retrieved 28 August 2016, <https://www.flickr.com/photos/90859240@N00/5784376625/in/photolist-9P9rDt-dccScM-7xjuWJ-rCifXv-dbeJ4i-81JzpW-kP8hL1-brxwU8-pi8Z2B-nVtKGn-nJ9a-bsr77R-5gpWTz-or5GW3-oTintK-aDkfck-dCDCEf-rF2XS7-pRNmJ9-odTDK6-oHz2kH-oV45sA-gYPWeA-db5NoN-JJRDc-oHxcgf-dat3cP-dbXfUD-dat3qe-bnyECu-dbdvmy-FSMYmZ-5VSpsc-oSDUj1-qweiLS-eAF3ip-bA2A4x-6LxgBk-A5LcX-fgjNqQ-3QjPyX-buh8UR-qFY4Yr-8LP6xG-9n5fE9-cadkCj-dcuNQA-ncMnz2-dbdrwB-oHxdTU>,  CC Attribution 2.0 Generic

Sean MacEntee 2012, siri, photograph, retrieved 28 August 2016, <https://www.flickr.com/photos/smemon/8070397213/in/photolist-di9TVx-dgPbsG-5LUyPg-5CC6sP-fpZ8XK-7hNggk-6AqvrP-axkfW5-r4DZdv-k3JuP-cT9yX3-cEa5QY-a7bXPM-hyF9Ln-98htXa-3T5Qaw-7fSiTv-93qrUL-6hF1tE-8soStg-6hAQyB-cEa6S5-9WXUwC-iFLRWP-dy1Ygm-5TG4AW-5TBJ9e-71mkCr-58wAAe-5iSDsd-5iSDhJ-aiUUcR-88q2WN-5iSDJo-96wkyw-p4o2V-5iNmMc-92od8X-axsBMW-2dJJ6c-77EUWC-cUgkZ5-nJsFc2-5iSDAS-htZqcr-6AwqUL-iSqatP-iDoSGH-a8HvBE-cEa76A>, CC Attribution 2.0 Generic

Yogesh Mhatre 2012, 015 of 365, photograph, retrieved 28 August 2016, <https://www.flickr.com/photos/hinkelstone/2435823037>, CC Attribution 2.0 Generic

 

 

 

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16 thoughts on “Hey Siri, are you protecting me?”

  1. Hey Benjamin, very well constructed blog! I found your writing very easy to read while still remaining complex enough to stimulate great conversation. Your use of images was well placed and your display of Creative Commons licensed material was pleasing to see, just make sure you link the license itself to the words ‘CC (By 2.0)’ like you have done with the image title. Also double check all links open in new tabs (including your reference list and Twitter links). A suggestion I would make is try embedding your Tweets into your blog (by copying/pasting the tweets hyperlink into the blog’s written area) so it displays the whole Tweet in order to further showcase your thoughtful/insightful work giving readers the opportunity to follow, like or retweet! Apart from this I thoroughly enjoyed your writing and with a few edits this will be an outstanding blog, keep it up! 🙂

    Like

  2. Hi, Benjamin!
    Your blog tittle is one of my favorite topic so far, after I read your tittle I ended up to make my siri on again after long time ago I used it. Afterwards, I started to use siri again and I want to thank you that your blog inspire and warning me how much siri is useful for me to saving time and help me in my daily activities. Moreover, your topic is interesting but I have several suggestions. First, I think it is can be more interesting if you add your own video when you interact with siri. Second, it is more good if you add several screens shoot of your twitter activities about this topic. In short, your blog is interesting and good. Keep writing!

    Like

  3. The title of this blog was the first thing that attracted me to it. The layout was so easy to follow, and I really enjoyed the vast variety of scholarly resources used. Even though there was constant referencing throughout the blog, I did not feel overwhelmed with information and it was not such a formal piece that made it a struggle to understand. Great diagram, super informative and easy to follow. This was a really well rounded blog, however I am now feeling very paranoid about Siri… may have to actually read the terms and conditions!

    Like

  4. Hey Ben,
    Really enjoyed your post. As an android user I was not aware of the data retention they perform to optimise a service I don’t even use, bit frustrating really. Really good content here and well backed up with strong references.
    Great use of the diagram to help explain a potentially difficult process and the title of your post is also attention grabbing and interesting.
    One suggestion in regards to your embedded tweets, instead of the HTML method, simply past the tweet URL into your blog and it will come out looking like a normal tweet.

    Again great post, keep it up!

    Like

  5. Hey Ben,

    Really interesting blog post, a concept I hadn’t considered. I guess whenever I think of using the function, ‘hey Siri’, I think of it as using my phone as normal.

    For a little bit of the post, I was confused as to how voice commands had the potential to invade my privacy, but the table image you provided lower worked great as a visual aid to further explain.

    It would be great to see some hyperlinks to some research and statistics on this topic, as well as more embedded tweets. What could also work well is a Tweet which features a video of yourself using the function, demonstrating how Siri needs your location to source maps etc. This way you can provide context, a Tweet, and a multimedia element.

    Definitely left me with some food for thought, great job!

    Like

  6. Hi, I like this blog post so much. In fact , this blog post demonstrates the awareness and understanding of some media surveillance very well. According to an example of Siri, we could find the personal data issues and privacy issues for mobile users. Thus, I started to think about the media concerns for our mobile devices. Especially when we using our phone in public, we need to pay more attention to the relationship between the personal data and technology surveillance through our media devices. The two images also draw a concern about the relationship between some companies and our sensitive information. Overall ,this blog also shows a way for mobile users to notice and protect their information from the author’s tweet. I think I learnt a lot from this blog post.

    Like

  7. Excellent approach of the “Siri phenomenon”. Personally, I am not a an Iphone lover and can’t relate to the topic since I had an Iphone 5s for 2 years and I was literally crying whenever I had to do anything else than calling or texting someone. I found it so hard to use and maybe that is why the created Siri in the first place, to make the lives of apple users easier. Although, when it comes to privacy, all phone users must be alert as you very delicately indicated. I think your last image was the highlight of your post as it explains in detail how privacy can be breached when using our phones. Awesome work !!

    – Angela

    Like

  8. Hey Benjamin, really great blog post! It was interesting throughout and made me question about my use of Siri, especially when it comes to tasks that can be done so easily without the help of Siri. The writing style of this post was great, the use of images was also really good, they fit the content perfectly and gave the blog really good structure. A high level of research was evident, and your interpretation from that research was really clear, making it easy to follow. The use of embedded tweets with articles was a smart way to incorporate more information into the post. Overall great blog post, I look forward to seeing your future post.

    Like

  9. Hi, Benjamin,
    I like this blog post so much. In fact , this blog post demonstrates the awareness and understanding of some media surveillance very well. According to an example of Siri, we could find the personal data issues and privacy issues for mobile users. Thus, I started to think about the media concerns for our mobile devices. Especially when we using our phone in public, we need to pay more attention to the relationship between the personal data and technology surveillance through our media devices. The two images also draw a concern about the relationship between some companies and our sensitive information. Overall ,this blog also shows a way for mobile users to notice and protect their information from the author’s tweet. I think I learnt a lot from this blog post.

    Like

  10. Ben, your introduction was utter perfection. You managed to create an informative tone while really setting the scene for the rest of your writing. I found that this allowed for the reader to quickly be absorbed into the piece. I found it great that you did not solely rely on Siri for your argument, it may not be of massive importance but I think it shows that you put in some further thought. Your grammar and punctuation were also immaculate, which when teamed with your unique tone made for very smooth reading. It was also great to see an infographic amongst the creative common images. Only issue I saw was that you forgot to hyperlink the creative commons license. Thanks for the amazing read.

    Like

  11. I really like the tittle of your post Benjamin, it quickly allows the reader to relate with what the post is going to be about. I like that you opened with ‘Crazy person’ humour, this added a level to your blog that was well received. It is evident from this post that issues surrounding the use of Siri (or other such apps) are issues that you care about and are interested in. The references and embedded tweets included support your position really well. The table at the end was really informative to and helped get your message across. Great Job!

    Like

  12. Hey Ben!
    Yes, it is certainly more of a novelty function at this stage I find (at least personally) but, no doubt this form of ‘siri’-style faux-A.I will eventually turn out to become the first primitive incarnation within a longer line of more advanced and further refined technologies. Just look back at some of our past computing equipment that itself was once considered state-of-the-art!! Yes, Indeed it can be a little worrying to consider what seems to be quite a high potential of data-theft, etc. though (particularly for someone such as myself who lacks quite a bit of understanding in the field!! hopefully things like ‘siri’ develop into more reliable and safe frameworks in the not too distant future!!
    kind regards,
    -james.

    Like

  13. Hi Ben,

    I thought your title was very clever and set the tone for the expressive style of writing you used throughout the piece, which I loved.
    You raised some excellent points in your discussion about Siri; such as privacy concerns by simply asking for the weather, as this requires information about location. Your references were great, and you used them seamlessly throughout your post to support your arguments without making the blog feel too ‘scholarly’.
    It would be better to see your tweets properly embedded to your blog – I was confused when you asked me to refer to ‘below tweet’ because I honestly scrolled past both tweets due to the text format. I really recommend including working hyperlinks throughout your post to guide the audience to further information or examples of Siri, encouraging the audience to engage.

    I really enjoyed the tongue in cheek humour and writing style, thanks Ben!
    Victoria

    Like

  14. Hi Benjamin,
    I thought your blog heading was very eye striking and allowed me to understand what you were going to discuss in this post! You raised very good points throughout your discussion about Siri such as how privacy is hacked through simply asking for the weather and this requires you clicking for Siri to access your location. It’s very scary to think every time we allow our phones to access our location, information they are storing private information! However i liked how you didn’t solely use Siri for your entire argument furthermore it shows that you used a great level of research to write your blog and get your point across. Your grammar and punctuation was fantastic!!

    well done
    Isabella

    Like

  15. Hi Ben! This was a great post, I have now learned things about Siri that I never knew before. I loved your inclusion of the diagram that detailed how a hacked Siri program could steal personal information from a phone, as a non-tech savy person such as myself would be able to break this down and be able to understand more in detail. I also really enjoyed your incorporation of scholarly sources to help support your contention. The only thing I would suggest is embedding your tweets as I got confused reading them, thinking they were quotes from another source. Congratulations on a well written post!

    Like

  16. Hi Benjamin, great blog post, I like the used of creative common images and this information you have shared is clearly thought out, well-structured and backed up by some great sources. It is good that you pointed out that there are protections in place for what we do on our phones however they are not completely secure. The main piece of advice I could offer is that the hyperlink that you have supplied (in your tweet) does not open in a new tab, consider looking into this before submitting it.

    Like

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