Apple denies spying on its users

Getty Images

Getty Images

Apple in the letter also laid out numerous policies it has shared publicly about its data collection and data use practices, which reflect what consumers see in the privacy policies they're asked to review when they buy an Apple device. The letter also includes answers to questions from the committee about how Apple's location services work, as well as their data collection policies, and whether Siri's microphone functionality can have any illicit uses.

In a response Tuesday, Apple reiterated that it collects as little data as possible as a practice. Powderly had already written a similar letter to Sen. Grassley's committee had held hearings in April on "Facebook, Social Media Privacy, and the Use and Abuse of Data".

Apple made the changes in the wake of the controversy over misuse of Facebook data by political consultancy Cambridge Analytica. More specifically, they were interested in whether reports are true concerning the ability for smartphones to "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'".

A similar letter as the one sent Cook from Rep. Walden was also mailed to Alphabet CEO Larry Page.

It's unclear whether Alphabet, the parent company of Google, replied to United States lawmakers, but a spokesperson House Energy and Commerce Committee said "both companies have been cooperative thus far".

"Apple's philosophy and approach to customer data differs from many other companies on these important issues", the letter reads.

Airbnb Is Canceling Its Sleepover at the Great Wall of China
The "Night at the Great Wall" contest was launched last Wednesday, though authorities say the firm failed to seek approval. The visit would include a short hike, a "multi-course gourmet dinner" and traditional Chinese entertainment.

The letter comes in response to an inquiry from Representatives Greg Walden, Marsha Blackburn, Gregg Harper and Robert Latta. The request follows in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica affair, where a now-defunct political consulting firm created approximately 71 million US voter profiles based on data it had harvested from Facebook without user consent in 2015.

The company did reveal for the first time how many apps it rejects from its App Store for failing to comply with its policies - almost 40 percent of submissions don't make the cut. A US federal probe is underway, with the FBI, the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Securities and Exchange Commission said to be taking part in the investigation.

In Apple's response, the company said the iPhone displays a visual alert when Siri is listening to someone's request.

Apple responded with a letter of their own debunking the reports, while adding it does not allow third-party apps to listen in either.

Powderly emphasizes that Apple values consumer privacy.

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