Like other technology companies, Apple stores information about you on its servers.

Unlike most technology companies, however, the Cupertino giant does not store identifiable information such as locations, instant messages and so forth.

Thanks to Differential Privacy techniques, Apple can build smart services without using the cloud for insight, keeping information about each individual user completely private.

Everything Apple knows about you

As a result, the list of personally identifiable things Apple knows about you is rather short compared to other technology companies, namely Facebook and Google.

Identifiable information Apple knows about you includes the following:

  • Apps you’ve downloaded
  • A log of every time you updated your installed apps
  • Movies, books and other media you’ve downloaded
  • All of the songs you’ve stored in iTunes Match
  • In-app purchases you’ve made on your devices
  • All the devices you’ve bought from Apple along with their serial numbers
  • A log of every AppleCare support query you’ve made
  • A repair session log of what was damaged
  • Serial numbers for both the old and replacement parts

In short, Apple doesn’t know much about you in a personally identifiable form other than your purchase/service history and your App Store/iTunes interactions.

What your Apple archive doesn’t include

Your archive does not contain any identifiable data already included within your Apple ID account, such as calendar contents, your iCloud emails, iTunes content and so forth.

Apple clarifies:

If you use iCloud, you will note that we have extremely short retention periods for how long we store such data. Conversations which take place over iMessage and FaceTime are protected by end-to-end encryption so no one but the sender and receiver can see or read them. Apple cannot decrypt that data. Similarly, we do not store data related to customers’ location, Map searches or Siri requests in any identifiable form.

For further information, read about Apple’s commitment to protecting user privacy.

How to download your Apple archive

In order to obtain a copy of everything Apple knows about you in an identifiable form, you must first contact Apple’s privacy response team.

Here’s how…

1) Visit the Apple Privacy Policy webpage at apple.com/legal/privacy/.

2) Choose your language from the list.

3) Scroll down to the section titled “Access to Personal Information” and click the link labeled “Privacy Contact Form” found at the end of the section.

TIP: Alternatively, visit that webpage directly at apple.com/legal/privacy/en-ww/contact/.

4) Choose your language.

5) From the menu next to “I have a question about”, choose the option “Privacy issues.”

6) Fill in your first name, last name, email and subject. In the body of your message, simply note that you are requesting a copy of personal information Apple has about you.

7) Click Submit.

8) You should receive a reply from Apple’s privacy response team seeking additional information within 24-48 hours. Reply to the message and be sure to include the follow-up ID (it’s in Apple’s email) and these pieces of information as defined in your Apple ID account:

  • First and last name
  • Apple ID
  • Email address
  • Street address
  • Telephone number
  • The serial number of one of your registered products
  • AppleCare support case number or date and time of your AppleCare support chat

This is to verify your identity.

TIP: To double-check that Apple has your current name, email address, street address and telephone number on file, log in to your Apple ID account at appleid.apple.com.

To check the serial number for an Apple product you own, launch the Settings app on your iOS device, tap your name at the top and tap a listed device.

Your AppleCare support case number can be found by signing in to the My Support webpage with your Apple ID and password or in a confirmation email you received from Apple.

The date and time of your AppleCare support conversation is in an email containing the full transcript that Apple sends to every customer who chats with their support specialists.

9) Apple’s privacy response team will follow-up with a message containing your download link. Download the ZIP file then open it from your Downloads folder to see what’s inside.

NOTE: Please be patient because it can take anywhere between a few hours to a few days to more than a week to prepare your archive. A second email from Apple will include a password for opening the linked ZIP archive as another layer of security.

As I mentioned earlier, you may be surprised learning how little Apple knows about you.

A log of apps, books, music and other media you’ve downloaded. Image via CNBC

Aside from the apps/media you’ve downloaded and your App Store/iTunes interactions, the archive won’t show your location history, logs of your iMessages or any other collected data that’s anonymized in a way that cannot be used to personally identify you.

About processing data requests

According to Apple’s Privacy Policy, customers will be provided with a copy of the information the company holds on them if they request their archive as described above.

“We will provide you with access (including a copy) for any purpose including to request that we correct the data if it is inaccurate or delete the data if Apple is not required to retain it by law or for legitimate business purposes,” reads the Privacy Policy page.

Apple may decline to process:

  • Requests that are frivolous or vexatious
  • Requests that jeopardize the privacy of others
  • Requests that are extremely impractical
  • Requests for which access is not otherwise required by local law

To ensure your contact information and preferences are accurate, complete and up to date, log in to your Apple ID account on the web at appleid.apple.com.

Need help? Ask iDB!

If you like this how-to, pass it along to your support folks and leave a comment below.

Got stuck? Not sure how to do certain things on your Apple device? Let us know via help@iDownloadBlog.com and a future tutorial might provide a solution.

Submit your how-to suggestions via tips@iDownloadBlog.com.