What the Tech? Siri May Give Your Personal Information to a Stranger
You find an iPhone in a coffee shop or club. It’s locked with a passcode and the owner is nowhere to be found.
You may be able to find out who owns the phone and contact them without even touching it.
This is a feature in Siri meant to help people who lose their phones and it works. However, you also give up some of your personal information if a stranger were to find it.
Even if the phone is locked, just say “Siri, who owns this phone?” and she’ll say their name along with other information such as an email address and phone number.
It’s a setting that most people turn on when they first set up a new phone. During activation, it will ask if you’d like to set up Siri. Most people say yes without reading what it will mean should someone else get their hands on the phone.
Of course, if you find a lost phone and ask the question, getting the owner’s phone number won’t help find them because you have the phone.
Call the number and it’ll ring in your hand. So you can ask “what number do I call the most?”. Siri will reveal the number of your last dialed number which, will likely help find the owner by asking who answers, to get in touch with the person they talked to recently and who’s name appears in their caller ID.
I tried out the feature last fall and found all of that information could be accessed by my voice on a phone owned by someone else. When I tried it today, Siri didn’t respond to my voice. Her voice recognition has improved.
If Siri doesn’t respond to your voice on a lost and locked phone, just press the home button for about 3 seconds to activate Siri and it will then answer your questions. You can also ask it to call someone on the owner’s contact list.
I tried “call mom” on someone else’s phone and it began to dial her number. Of course for this to work, the owner must identify the contact as “mom”.
The feature is designed to help iPhone owners find a lost phone but has also proved helpful in emergency and disaster situations when the owner of the phone was unable to unlock the device.
In October of 2017, a woman reportedly used the feature to contact the family of the deadly Las Vegas shooting.
If you’re uncomfortable with the feature you can turn it off in settings. Go to Siri and Search settings and turn off “Allow Siri When Locked” or “Listen for Hey Siri”. But be aware, changing the setting will not allow Siri to work on your locked phone even for you which can be an inconvenience if you often use Siri when the phone is locked.
What do you think? Do you like this feature or will you turn it off?