Apple told lawmakers in the U.S. this week that its iPhone isn’t listening in on users without their permission, and that it doesn’t let third-party app developers listen in on customers’ calls.
According to a report in CNBC, Representatives Greg Walden, Marsha Blackburn, Gregg Harper and Robert Latta sent a letter to Apple’s Chief Executive Tim Cook and Alphabet Chief Executive Larry Page in July citing concerns about smartphones that can collect audio data from users without their knowledge. Apple said iPhones don’t record audio while listening for Siri wakeup commands, and that Siri doesn’t share the words spoken to the digital virtual assistant.
In the letter, Apple also said that it requires users to explicitly approve microphone access and that third-party apps have to display a signal that the app is listening in. The company also stated that it has removed apps from its App Store if they violate its privacy rules, but wouldn’t say whether any developers were banned.
“Apple does not and cannot monitor what developers do with the customer data they have collected, or prevent the onward transfer of that data, nor do we have the ability to ensure a developer’s compliance with their own privacy policies or local law,” Apple wrote in the report.
A spokeswoman for the Republican majority on the House Energy and Commerce Committee told CNBC that “both companies have been cooperative thus far. The Committee looks forward to reviewing and analyzing the responses as we consider next steps.”
Apple’s App Stores have raked in $100 billion in sales for developers during the past 10 years. Apple said it has rejected 36,000 apps from the 100,000 submitted each week because they violated the company’s guidelines.
The letter to Apple and Google comes amid increased scrutiny of the internet and tech companies after Facebook was embroiled in a data security scandal in which the now-defunct political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica accessed the data on 87 million users without their consent.