Siri promo video (Woman asks for weather)

Apple has finally disclosed how long Siri keeps your personalized data collected and stored on its servers whenever you pick up your iPhone and ask her a question. In a new report published Friday, an Apple representative was quoted confirming the company keeps Siri data stored in the  cloud for two years.

Watchers often express concern over digital voice assistants such as Siri because they store users’ voice clips, opening door to a potential privacy nightmare should this private data ever be compromised. Apple on its part argues it stores anonymized data, and for two years only. Other companies that collect data from users, such as the Internet giant Google and industries like telecommunications, have similar data retention policies in place…

Responding to questions raised by  the American Civil Liberties Union yesterday, Apple on Friday dispatched its spokeswoman Trudy Muller who explained to Wired the firm’s data retention policy governing Siri.

Apple may keep anonymized Siri data for up to two years. If a user turns Siri off, both identifiers are deleted immediately along with any associated data.

Based on the information Muller provided, Wired’s Robert McMillan explains exactly what happens when you use Siri:

Whenever you speak into Apple’s voice activated personal digital assistant, it ships it off to Apple’s data farm for analysis. Apple generates a random numbers to represent the user and it associates the voice files with that number. This number — not your Apple user ID or email address — represents you as far as Siri’s back-end voice analysis system is concerned.

Furthermore, Apple “disassociates” your user number from any clip older than six months, also deleting the number from the voice file. What the company also does is keep these disassociated files for up to eighteen more months for “testing and product improvement purposes.”

Nicole Ozer, the American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who first expressed concern over these Siri privacy questions, urges Apple to include information about privacy practices on its Siri FAQ page.

People can reveal all sorts of private information about themselves when using Siri, she said, warning “Siri works for Apple.”

Last March, the IT services giant IBM banned Siri on its network over fear that the virtual assistant could be logging sensitive information.