Among other privacy upgrades, Apple also launched an online portal yesterday where users can look up what type of data the firm stores about them, and change or delete that data.
The tool was tested in the EU earlier this year to coincide with the region’s introduction of the GDPR data protection laws. The information that Apple stores could include photos, calendar entries, documents, reminders, bookmarks, repairs history and App Store purchases.
This forms part of Apple’s wider narrative to portray itself as a business that generates income from selling physical products instead of selling client info to advertisers.
In March 2018, CEO Tim Cook said: “The truth is, we could make a ton of money if we monetized our customer – if our customer was our product. We’ve elected not to do that.”
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg responded by calling Cook “extremely glib”, and defending Facebook’s business model as the only rational one for his company.
Apart from the search facility, Apple also announced a number of improved privacy initiatives with its new iOS 12 operating system and new website. The firm is promoting its “Intelligent Tracking Prevention” system, which attempts to stop the type of information collection that makes it possible for advertisers to show consumers ads based on their recent web searches or purchases.
The firm has also modified certain settings to prevent browser or machine “fingerprinting”, which allows someone’s device to be identified by using its unique preferences and settings (e.g. specific fonts), even if the user blocked other types of data tracking.
Apple also plans to fully encrypt Group FaceTime video chat, as well as the new “Screentime” feature, which shows how often people use their devices.
Cook will be the keynote speaker at this year’s International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners.