Siri users consent before enrolling voice biometrics, Apple argues seeking BIPA suit dismissal

Siri users consent before enrolling voice biometrics, Apple argues seeking BIPA suit dismissal

Apple has asked a circuit court judge to dismiss a potential class action lawsuit filed against it under the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) of Illinois, on grounds that its virtual assistant Siri captures and stores biometric “voiceprints” of users only with their voluntary and intentional participation in an optional process, the Cook County Record reports.

The suit alleges that Apple violates BIPA’s informed consent requirements as part of the speaker-identification process for its voice-activated digital assistant, and Apple does not dispute what is happening during the enrollment process. It does, however, dispute that the process skips consent, saying it requires “knowing, voluntary and intentional interaction” and express consent to the enrollment protocol of a feature that is optional.

“The user controls the whole process, and Apple does not have access to this user profile,” Apple claims. “Instead, the user profile remains on the user’s device and simply allows Siri to recognize the ‘Hey Siri’ command.”

In this sense, the data does not constitute a unique biometric identifier protected by BIPA rules, the company argues.

The complaint by Deborah Zaluda also does not make specific allegations of disclosures or dissemination violating BIPA, the company said, acknowledging media reports that contractors are given access to recordings to evaluate the performance of voice recognition software. Informed written consent is also part of the profile creation process, according to Apple.

“Users consent before providing the utterances that are used to create the user profile,” the iPhone maker argues. “Thus, with respect to the user profile, users have the ‘power to say no’ intended by BIPA.”

The motion also notes that handwritten signatures and physical documents are not required by BIPA, and says that the complaint recognizes the consent process for its fingerprint and facial recognition technology without explaining why the process for its voice biometrics fail to meet the threshold.

Facebook settled a BIPA class action for a record-high $550 million last week, but its defense strategy was based on whether the plaintiff had legal standing, not a claim that the statutory requirements were in fact met.

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