IBM Restricts Employees From Using Services Like Siri And iCloud To Prevent Information Leaks

IBM Restricts Employees From Using Services Like Siri And iCloud To Prevent Information LeaksNot surprisingly, as highlighted by Wired from Technology Review’s recent interview, IBM’s chief information officer (Jeanette Horan) confirmed that while the company upholds a “bring your own device” policy, they still restrict certain services on said devices. When an employee opts to use their own device, IBM reportedly blocks accesses to almost all cloud-based services – including, but not limited to, the following: Dropbox, Siri and iCloud.

As it turns out, due to the nature of services such as Siri, IBM is definitely being cautious and protecting the company’s best interests with what, on the surface, appears to be a very restrictive policy:

It turns out that Horan is right to worry. In fact, Apple’s iPhone Software License Agreement spells this out: ‘When you use Siri or Dictation, the things you say will be recorded and sent to Apple in order to convert what you say into text,’ Apple says. Siri collects a bunch of other information — names of people from your address book and other unspecified user data, all to help Siri do a better job.

How long does Apple store all of this stuff, and who gets a look at it? Well, the company doesn’t actually say. Again, from the user agreement: ‘By using Siri or Dictation, you agree and consent to Apple’s and its subsidiaries’ and agents’ transmission, collection, maintenance, processing, and use of this information, including your voice input and User Data, to provide and improve Siri, Dictation, and other Apple products and services.’

Because some of the data that Siri collects can be very personal, the American Civil Liberties Union put out a warning about Siri just a couple of months ago.

During the interview, Horan refers to IBM’s information safeguards as “extremely conservative” and reiterates that the company is wary of their employees’ Siri queries being stored on Apple’s server. As Wired suggests, in the above quote, Apple does in fact reserve the right to retain commands, questions and anything else that may be dictated to Siri on their servers in order to better the service over time and offer improved results.

While there’s no doubt that Apple isn’t alone when it comes to storing sensitive information on the cloud, IBM is presumably most concerned when it comes to Apple’s services given their popularity. In the future, as we see a more robust plethora of cloud-based services offered with various technology products, will it even be possible for companies like IBM to forbid employees from utilizing cloud-oriented features? Stay tuned for additional coverage on developments in the cloud space and the skepticism that they undoubtedly attract.