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Apple keeps your recorded Siri questions on file for two years

Apple stores recordings of everything you tell its robot butler Siri for two years, the Californian company has revealed.

Apple stores recordings of everything you tell its robot butler Siri for two years, the Californian company has revealed.

When you ask Siri something, it takes it a couple of seconds to reply. In that time, the digital assistant pings your vocal request to its vast data centre in North Carolina, which answers it and tells Siri what to say. To better learn what kinds of questions people ask and therefore give them more useful replies, it keeps those sound files for two years before deleting them.

After repeatedly being asked by the American Civil Liberties Union, Wired reports, Apple explained what happened to your requests -- how they're stored and when they're deleted.

The first time you use Siri, its database assigns you a random number, which it says isn't connected to your user ID or email address. After six months, that number is deleted from that recording, but the file itself remains for another 18 months.

"If a user turns Siri off," Apple's Trudy Muller told Wired, "both identifiers are deleted immediately, along with any associated data."

ACLU lawyer Nicole Ozer has called for Apple to make this information more prominent by linking to its privacy policy from its Siri FAQ. "Siri works for Apple, so make a note to yourself to really think before you speak," Ozer warned Wired.

Siri, which works on the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, retina iPad, iPad mini and fifth-gen iPod touch, wasn't too useful in the UK until the iOS 6 update, when it added local listings from Yelp. It can find your nearest pub, tell you what the score is in the Premier League and steer you clear of traffic snarl-ups.

That all sounds like valuable information if you were trying to build up a picture of you as a consumer, but then so's your browsing history. It's worth being aware of these kinds of privacy issues and keeping a weather eye out for strange behaviour.

What do you think of Siri? Do you think we're too quick to trust new tech? Or is this a small price to pay for convenience of using such a sophisticated service? Have your say in the comments, or over on our Facebook wall.

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