user privacy

Apple this evening launched a new privacy site in an effort to increase transparency on how it protects user data, and to educate users on how they can better protect themselves. Additionally, Tim Cook has posted an open letter to Apple Customers detailing the various sections of the new site, as well as Apple’s stance on user privacy.

The move follows recent bad publicity for Apple, in which its laxed iCloud security measures were blamed for the hacking of high profile celebrity accounts, which resulted in a slew of nude photos being leaked. The company maintains that its servers were never breached, but Tim Cook promised to double down on security anyway.

Here’s a large excerpt from Cook’s letter:

At Apple, your trust means everything to us. That’s why we respect your privacy and protect it with strong encryption, plus strict policies that govern how all data is handled.

Security and privacy are fundamental to the design of all our hardware, software, and services, including iCloud and new services like Apple Pay. And we continue to make improvements. Two-step verification, which we encourage all our customers to use, in addition to protecting your Apple ID account information, now also protects all of the data you store and keep up to date with iCloud.

We believe in telling you up front exactly what’s going to happen to your personal information and asking for your permission before you share it with us. And if you change your mind later, we make it easy to stop sharing with us. Every Apple product is designed around those principles. When we do ask to use your data, it’s to provide you with a better user experience.

We’re publishing this website to explain how we handle your personal information, what we do and don’t collect, and why. We’re going to make sure you get updates here about privacy at Apple at least once a year and whenever there are significant changes to our policies.
A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realize that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product. But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy.

Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple.

That Apple would would link to this letter, and subsequently its new privacy site, from its homepage is telling. The company is on the verge of launching some major new products: Apple Pay, Apple Watch, and HealthKit apps—all of which are going to require users to trust Apple to protect their personal information more than ever before.

[Apple via The Wall Street Journal]