Apple Air Pods & Air Pods Pro

Apple Air Pods & Air Pods Pro

Apple
Bluetooth

Review date: Nov. 8, 2021

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Mozilla says

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People voted: Not creepy

Things that go in your ears that are always on, always connected, and always listening — seems like there's the possibility something could go wrong. Whether you get the AirPods, AirPods Pro, or the pricey AirPods Max, Apple has a pretty good record when it comes to privacy and security so you should be safe. Now you just have to figure out a way not to lose these pricey little pods.

What could happen if something goes wrong?

Apple does a pretty good job with privacy and security as a company. They say they don't share or sell your data and Apple takes special care to make sure your Siri requests aren't associated with you, which is great. Apple did face backlash in 2019 when it came to light their contractors were regularly listening in on confidential personal conversations when they were reviewing the voice assistant's recordings. Apple changed their policy so users weren't automatically opted-in to human voice review. Recently, Apple made another positive change for your Siri voice requests — many audio requests for things like setting timers or alarms or controlling music will no longer be sent over the internet to their servers, instead processing them directly on the device. This is better for your privacy.

Apple did recently suffer a bad security vulnerability that resulted in spyware that could allow bad actors to record calls and messages and even turn an iPhone or iPad camera and microphone on without the user knowing. Apple did patch the security vulnerability. This is a good reminder that even the best companies can be vulnerable to high level hacking.

All in all, your AirPods are probably pretty secure and private. They’re still super easy to lose though, so keep in mind you can turn the Find My features on. That just means a little more location tracking in your life, which, in this case might be worth it.

Tips to protect yourself

  • You can say “Hey Siri, stop listening.” to turn off speech recognition for some time
mobile Privacy warning Security A.I.

Can it snoop on me? information

Camera

Device: No

App: N/A

Microphone

Device: Yes

App: N/A

Tracks location

Device: No

App: N/A

What can be used to sign up?

No sign-up required

What data does the company collect?

How does the company use this data?

Apple says it does not share your data with third parties for commercial or marketing purposes. In June 2021, Apple announced that it will no longer send Siri requests to its servers, but instead will process them at the device level.

How can you control your data?

Apple retains personal data only for so long as necessary to fulfill the purposes for which it was collected, including as described in their Privacy Policy or in their service-specific privacy notices, or as required by law. No specific data retention details are provided.

What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?

Needs Improvement

Apple had a recent serious security vulnerability. From Firewall Times: "In September 2021, researchers discovered that a spyware called Pegasus had infected iPhones and other Apple Devices via a ‘zero click exploit’, granting the spyware broad power over a users’ device. Once infected, the spyware could record calls and messages and even turn the device camera and microphone on without the user knowing. Pegasus was produced by the NSO Group, an Israel-based company that sells its spyware to governments such as Mexico and Saudi Arabia. Though this spyware would presumably be used to surveil terrorists and criminal enterprises, these governments have also used it to spy on activists, politicians, and journalists. As of September 13, 2021, Apple has patched the exploit.

Can this product be used offline?

Yes

User-friendly privacy information?

Yes

Apple has a webpage highlighting its privacy principles and features. Apple begins its privacy policy with a statement of principles. While this statement is very long, it is clearly broken out into relevant topics.

Links to privacy information

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards? information

Yes

Encryption

Yes

Strong password

Not Applicable

Bluetooth required

Security updates

Yes

Manages vulnerabilities

Yes

Apple has a bug bounty program, which means that anyone who finds a security issue and discloses it responsibly may get paid. https://developer.apple.com/security-bounty/

Privacy policy

Yes

Does the product use AI? information

Yes

Some of Apple's AI research can be found at https://machinelearning.apple.com/.

Is this AI untrustworthy?

Can’t Determine

What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?

Apple states in its privacy policy, "Apple does not take any decisions involving the use of algorithms or profiling that significantly affect you." Apple employs machine learning in many different ways, from using it to to improve Siri to using it to sharpen the photos that you take.

Is the company transparent about how the AI works?

Yes

Does the user have control over the AI features?

Yes


News

Apple resumes human reviews of Siri audio
Associated Press
Apple Inc. is resuming the use of humans to review Siri commands and dictation with the latest iPhone software update. In August, Apple suspended the practice and apologized for the way it used people, rather than just machines, to review the audio.
Apple’s AI plan: a thousand small conveniences
The Verge
AI has become an integral part of every tech company’s pitch to consumers. Fail to hype up machine learning or neural networks when unveiling a new product, and you might as well be hawking hand-cranked calculators. This can lead to overpromising. But judging by its recent WWDC performance, Apple has adopted a smarter and quieter approach.
Apple apologises for allowing workers to listen to Siri recordings
The Guardian
Apple has apologised for allowing contractors to listen to voice recordings of Siri users in order to grade them. The company made the announcement after it completed a review of the grading programme, which had been triggered by a Guardian report revealing its existence. According to multiple former graders, accidental activations were regularly sent for review, having recorded confidential information, illegal acts, and even Siri users having sex.
9 Apple AirPods tricks you’ll wish you knew before now
Komando.com
If you’re new to AirPods, here are 9 helpful tips that will enhance your auditory experience.
Apple overhauls Siri to address privacy concerns and improve performance
The Guardian
Apple will no longer send Siri requests to its servers, the company has announced, in a move to substantially speed up the voice assistant’s operation and address privacy concerns.

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