Apple software update puts privacy in the frontline

Tech group says aim of update is to help customers understand how data will be used and update privacy options ahead of GDPR

Silhouette of laptop user is seen next to a screen projection of Apple logo. Apple has released a software update across all platforms to bring its services fully into line with the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) rules.  PHOTOGRAPH: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Silhouette of laptop user is seen next to a screen projection of Apple logo. Apple has released a software update across all platforms to bring its services fully into line with the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) rules. PHOTOGRAPH: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

 

Apple says the objective of the EU’s new data privacy rules “align with the company’s privacy values”.

The company was commenting as it releases a software update across all platforms to bring its services fully into line with the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) rules. The update was made available from Thursday evening.

The company said customers should not have to “dive into their settings” to ensure their privacy.

“This is about making it easier than ever to understand how Apple will use customers’ data when they sign in or turn on new features,” the company said.

Apple says its products and features have been designed to protect privacy over many years by minimising data collected, maximising processing of data within individual devices so that it never goes near any Apple servers and keeping a focus on security, transparency and customer control.

Easy to follow

In its new update, Apple is providing standardised easy-to-follow information on how their data is handled by its different products and services.

The update has information “on how we feel GDPR means for customers in an Apple context”, the company said. It hopes to engage users to read and interact with the privacy information provided.

The update does not involve new terms and conditions or changes to how the company handles data, officials said.

The other major addition under privacy controls is an option to allow users deactivate their accounts. This brings Apple fully into line with its obligations under GDPR. Under its privacy management tools, the tech giant already allows users to get a copy of their data, correct errors in data held and the delete their account, a process that requires a seven-day verification process.

Deactivation option

The less dramatic deactivation option will be housed on the same privacy management tools screen.

The changes come as Apple chief executive Tim Cook this week issued a harsh rebuke of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s business model, saying that detailed profiles of individuals compiled by internet platforms should not exist.

“We could make a ton of money if we monetised our customers, if our customers were our product,” Mr Cook said in an interview with Recode and MSNBC. “We’ve elected not to do that. We’re not going to traffic in your personal life. Privacy to us is a human right, a civil liberty.”

Cook also said that it was past time to regulate Facebook.

“I think the best regulation is no regulation, is self-regulation,” he said. “However, I think we’re beyond that here.”

The comment echoed remarks Mr Cook made in Beijing last week, when he said : “I think that this certain situation is so dire and has become so large that probably some well-crafted regulation is necessary.”

Facebook scandal

Facebook has received a deluge of criticism in the wake of the Observer’s reporting that the personal information of 50 million American users was used by the electioneering firm Cambridge Analytica.

But Cook has been sounding the alarm on mass data collection by Facebook and Google for years. The executive has long pointed to the distinction between Apple’s business model – selling products to customers for a profit – and that of internet platforms that are “gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetise it”, as he said in 2015

The Apple boss is not the only Silicon Valley chief to take aim at Facebook during its time of troubles. On Friday, Elon Musk deleted the Facebook pages for two of his companies, Tesla and SpaceX. – additional reporting Guardian