Saturday, May 23, 2015

Whose Phone Is This?

Daniel Jalkut:

The problem to my mind is not that Siri shares my name and contact information, but that it goes a step further, showing not only my main telephone number, but my physical address, all my telephone numbers, email addresses, as well as my AIM, Twitter, and Facebook accounts. It also happily provides my birthdate, the names of my wife, mom, dad, brother, heck, the names of any person I have assigned a relationship to.


Of course, you don’t have to share all this information with whatever stranger manages to pick up your phone. Simply disable Siri access from the lock screen, and nobody will be able to access your private information using it. Of course, this means no airline employee who finds your phone tucked between the seats will be able to easily return your phone to you, either.

There’s no great solution here because of the classic privacy vs. convenience trade-off. Another option would be to disable Siri on the lock screen and use the Health app’s “Medical ID” card, which is accessible by swiping right at the lock screen and then tapping Emergency.

7 Comments RSS · Twitter

Can't you just put a name and phone number on the lock screen?

John Miller

What about having your contact details written on your lock screen wallpaper?

@KLM: As soon as there is one notification of any kind on the lock screen the background image is blurred.

I put my name and instructions for accessing the Medical ID on the wallpaper. That way I don’t have to keep updating the wallpaper itself if anything changes. But you still can’t have it both ways about allowing Siri. I’m not seeing any blurring, perhaps because I have Reduce Transparency enabled.

We got our iPhones about the same time everyone and their brother was running stories of the massive privacy issues with Siri on the lock screen, so our family has essentially always had that off. With Touch ID, it's rarely too painful to unlock in order to get Siri, but I have occasionally wished for a privacy-enhanced Siri mode that worked on the lock screen (e.g., "take a note" doesn't require any personal information to make a new note, nor does creating [certain types of] reminders, which are the two things I do most that require an "extra" unlock because of having Siri off).

I imagine it would be difficult to figure out where the lines should be drawn, but I also don't think it's too difficult that a team of privacy engineers at Apple couldn't come up with a good solution after spending some time on it.

I do have my name and family contact numbers in Medical ID, but no lock screen wallpaper markup (which is blurred here with notifications—Reduce Transparency is disabled). Hopefully in time knowing the steps to access, and accessing, the Medical ID info will become as second-nature to phone-finders as asking Siri apparently is today.

Just make a dummy contact that's "you" with just the PI you want shared, and make that "you" in your phone's settings. I haven't found too many places the "Me" contact entry is all that horribly important.

@Ruffin Jalkut addressed that. He seems to like accessing more of the Me info via Siri.

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