Apple has redesigned its Privacy website highlighting the data collected by each of its key apps and service, as it once again touts its privacy credentials. Apple has always highlighted its privacy focus, as the key difference against rivals like Google, Amazon and other players in the tech industry. Apple CEO Tim Cook has in the past also said that tech companies cannot dodge responsibility for the privacy chaos.
The new website puts the focus on Safari, Photos, iMessage, Apple Maps, Siri, Apple News, Health and Apple Pay to showcase exactly what data the company accesses and how it handles this. The format is much easier to read, and clearly lays out what users should know when it comes to privacy on Apple products. Tim Cook tweeted a link to the page saying, “”At Apple, privacy is built into everything we make. You decide what you share, how you share it, and who you share it with…”
Cook has in the past been very vocal about privacy and the role of tech companies. In June, during an address to Standford University students, Cook had said companies cannot dodge responsibility for the “chaos” they create, though he did not name Google or Facebook.
In 2018,he called for a comprehensive data privacy law in the US, on the lines of EU’s GDPR at the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners at Brussels, Belgium. “It is time for the rest of the world, including my home country to follow your (EU) lead. We at Apple are in full support of a comprehensive federal privacy law in the United States,” he had said.
The Apple CEO also went on to tweet that the idea that privacy regulations would hamper technological innovation was wrong. “We will never achieve technology’s true potential without the full faith and confidence of people who use it,” he posted.
At Apple, privacy is built into everything we make. You decide what you share, how you share it, and who you share it with. Here’s how we protect your data. https://t.co/TSJg1bJlAn
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) November 6, 2019
The Apple Privacy Page
The Privacy page gives a detailed look at the data that each Apple is accessing. For Safari, the page mentions how the browser comes with Intelligent Tracking Prevention to block some websites to build a profile of the user by collecting their data. Safari also has fingerprint defense, where advertisers can no longer create a “fingerprint” of the device to target the user based on characteristics like browser configuration, and fonts and plug-ins they would have installed.
For Apple Maps, the company has pointed out that the service does not require a sign-in and does not need to be linked to the user’s Apple ID. This is in contrast to Google Maps, where the user is required to sign-in into their Google Account.
Apple has also pointed out that features like locating the parked car are created on the device. They also said the data used in navigation such as routes and search terms, is not associated with the user’s individual identity.
For Photos, Apple says images are processed right on the Mac, iPhone, and iPad, and not on the cloud like other services. Once again the difference with Google Photos cannot be ignored, which is an entirely cloud-dependent service.
The page also touts the encryption on Messages, adding that all pictures, Animojis, and videos are encrypted while being sent between devices. Further any smart suggestions in Messages are all done on the device.
Siri also finds a mention on the privacy page with Apple saying that users don’t have sign in with their Apple ID to use their voice assistant. It adds that the device processes as much information as possible without sending it to Apple’s servers, which indicates that some information is still sent to the servers.
“When Apple does process or store data on our servers, it’s associated with a random identifier — a long string of letters and numbers. That data is used only to improve Siri, and we never share or sell it. Apple doesn’t retain audio of your requests unless you choose to share it with us to improve Siri,” adds the page.
Apple had face criticism after it was revealed that hired contractors were listening to personal Siri recordings. Apple then suspended the program and now gives users the option to opt out of the setting. The company has also revealed that all Health data is encrypted and only accessible with the user’s passcode, Touch ID, or Face ID. But keep in mind if you choose to share it with third-party health apps, then they do get access to this.
Regarding Apple Pay, the company says it doesn’t store, sell, or use information regarding a user’s purchasing patterns, nor does it store credit or debit card numbers or share them with merchants. With Apple News, the company says the content a user reads is associated with a random identifier, not the Apple ID.