News & Views
Apple puts privacy in hands of users

A new generation of iPhones isn’t the only reason Apple is currently making headlines; the tech giant is also taking a game-changing stance on the issue of online privacy.

The company has updated its privacy site with a comprehensive explanation of how data is safely collected by various iOS features like News and Maps, in order to put the minds of concerned users at rest. The walkthrough also includes guidance on how users can encrypt their own information, so that Apple will only see what the user allows them to.

“A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realise that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product,” CEO Tim Cook says in an open letter on the site, going on to state: “At Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy.”


As TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino puts it, Apple are blowing up the concept of the privacy policy. These contracts have traditionally been written for people with a limited understanding of the issue, by lawyers who have the interests of the corporation in mind. This is simply no longer the case; consumers are more concerned than ever before about who is able to see their data and how it might be used, and Apple’s new transparent approach reflects this, placing the rights of its customers front and centre, and empowering them to make smarter decisions about their own security.

“This is a template for all other tech companies when it comes to informing users about their privacy,” says Panzarino. “Not a page of dense jargon, and not a page of cutesy simplified language that doesn’t actually communicate the nuance of the thing. Instead, it’s a true product.”

The phrasing of a privacy document may seem like a trivial thing, but it clearly demonstrates here that Apple is striking the right tone in its attitude towards what is an increasingly personal matter for a vast number of its customers. In fact, this latest move could propel even more people towards Apple’s “safer” native services, as opposed to platforms that rely on advertising to make money. “These sorts of assurances are only becoming more important as digital services soak up more of our lives,” writes James Vincent at The Verge.

“Our business model is very straightforward: we sell great products,” Cook said last year, in a thinly veiled swipe against Google. “We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t ‘monetise’ 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.”

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