Many of us use Siri — with greater or lesser degrees of success, frustration or both.  But here’s one question that Siri will definitely not answer for you — just how long our various calls to her are being kept.

Now — thanks to Robert McMillan at Wired — we can know and, for me,  it falls into the “creepy” category.  Mr. McMillan and Wired were successful in getting a direct answer from Apple (www.wired.com, “Apple Finally Reveals How Long Siri Keeps Your Data”; April 19, 2013). The privacy policy for Siri is rather opaque on explaining how long personal data is retained so Mr. McMillan and Wired have done Siri users a great service.

In his article, Mr. McMillan provides the following information that Trudy Muller, an Apple spokeswoman, gave him:

  • Siri keeps users data for up to 2 years;
  • The data is turned into 2 different types of randomly generated numerical identifiers — one for the user and another for the voice files associated with that user; and
  • The data is anonymized and the voice clips are collected in order to improve Siri service.

Ms. Muller told Mr. McMillan that if Siri is turned off, then both of the numerical identifiers will be deleted immediately.

I’ll speak from personal experience.  If Apple’s retaining and using voice clips for improved Siri service, then that’s not happening. Anyone at Apple listening to my supposedly anonymized voice clips will hear me telling Siri to “forget it” since she’s either garbled my request or given me completely incorrect information.

More importantly, Siri users need to know that their requests are being retained and used by Apple. Siri will have heard me, for example, asking for an array of information (e.g., people’s phone numbers; directions to places) that are certainly personal and sometimes private in nature.

So here’s a caution if you use Siri.  She might not be giving you the information you need, but she will be keeping your requests.  Be careful about the personal and private information included in your requests to Siri.