Trying out Little Snitch with El Capitan, I have been noticing a few processes attempting to access the internet that I did not expect/understand. I do not use iTunes, for example, yet SpotlightNetHelper wants access to init.itunes.apple.com. I was also curious about why my mac wanted to access api-[...]-[...].smoot.apple.com. So digging into System Preferences > Spotlight > About Spotlight Suggestions & Privacy (which required jumping through a few hoops because with my display the default font was so tiny and there was no option to print the text) I found: "When you use Spotlight or Look Up, your search queries, the Spotlight Suggestions you select, and related usage data will be sent to Apple. Search results found on your Mac will not be sent. If you have Location Services on your Mac turned on, when you make a search query to Spotlight or use Look Up the location of your Mac at that time will be sent to Apple. Searches for common words and phrases will be forwarded from Apple to Microsoft's Bing search engine. These searches are not stored by Microsoft. To provide you with more relevant music and video suggestions, if your Mac can access music or video subscription services, then information such as the names of the subscription services and types of subscriptions may be sent to Apple. Your account name, number and password will not be sent to Apple. Location, search queries, and usage information sent to Apple will only be used by Apple to make Spotlight Suggestions more relevant and to improve other Apple products and services. If you do not want your Spotlight and Look Up search queries and Spotlight Suggestions usage data sent to Apple, you can turn off Spotlight Suggestions. Simply deselect the checkbox for “Allow Spotlight Suggestions in Spotlight and Look Up” and the checkbox for Bing Web Searches in the Search Results tab in the Spotlight preference pane found within System Preferences on your Mac. If you turn off Spotlight Suggestions and Bing Web Searches, Spotlight will only search the contents of your Mac and Look Up will only search the dictionary on your Mac. ..." (^ paragraph formatting & highlighting added by me) Now, before reading the above, I had already deselected Location Services and "Allow Spotlight Suggestions in Spotlight and Look up". I had also already deselected Bing Web Searches from the Spotlight Search Results options. However, I had not deselected Movies and Music, among other choices, from the Search Results options. So it seems Spotlight is set by default to automatically send queries to Apple, even if you are just trying to look for items on your local hard drive(s). That seems to me to potentially be a significant enough privacy issue that it should be made very clear to users rather than buried in a privacy statement somewhere that may or may not be noticed. I just upgraded from a much older version of OS X, so while the way that Spotlight operates may be old hat to many, for me it was a complete surprise. It's great that the search results found on your computer will not be sent to Apple. But isn't it potentially problematic that the names of files or of acquaintanes that you are searching for are being sent? And is this information being transmitted and stored (for however long it is stored) in an encrypted format?