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Apple shares open lower as US Govt queries how much it ‘spies’ on users

Apple shares opened lower in the US Wednesday after US lawmakers sent a letter to CEO Tim Cook asking about its third-party user data policies and basically, how much the tech innovator actually ‘spies’ on its users. The same letter was also sent to Google owner Alphabet’s CEO, Sundar Pichai.

Apple shares opened 0.55% lower at $189.30. The stock ended a little lower Tuesday after moving broadly higher in the past week or so.

How much does Apple ‘spy’

Despite making numerous policy changes and attempting to become more transparent, US tech giants remain under the microscope with regards to their user data policies and practices.

While Facebook is set to receive the highest possible fine from the UK’s information watchdog for breaching the UK’s data protection policies, Apple has been contacted by the US Energy and Commerce Committee with regards to its data policies.

The letter, signed by four members of the committee, asks a series of questions in the attempt to discover whether or not Apple devices are collecting more data and audio data than they should be.

Specifically, even though Siri is only supposed to begin recording and monitoring audio data once its awakened by the user, there is concern its actually monitoring and recording audio data much more frequently than at just those times.

“Recent reports have also suggested that smartphone devices can, and in some instances, do, collect ‘non-triggered’ audio data from users’ conversations near a smartphone in order to hear a ‘trigger’ phrase, such as ‘okay Google’ or ‘hey Siri’,” the letter states.

“It has also been suggested that third party applications have access to and use this ‘non-triggered’ data without disclosure to users,” it adds.

Aside from that detail, the letter includes 16 specific questions for Apple to answer.

Apple employee accused of stealing autonomous car details

Separately, a former Apple employee has been accused of stealing details of Apple’s autonomous vehicle project for use at a Chinese firm.

Xiaolang Zhang was a firmer Apple employee, working on its driverless car project. However, when he said he was leaving Apple to work for an autonomous car start-up in china, its alleged he downloaded a 25-page blue print from Apple’s project onto his own computer.

Mr. Zhang reportedly admitted to stealing the documents in a June interview.

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