Tim Cook touts new Apple privacy policies in open letter to customers

Posted:
in General Discussion edited September 2014
Apple on Wednesday updated its customer privacy webpage to reflect new security initiatives, highlighting a letter written by CEO Tim Cook, who restated the company's business is in selling products, not harvesting data.




In Cook's letter, which is linked to in a special section on the Apple.com home page, the Apple chief restates his company's focus on consumer privacy, an issue touched upon during an interview with Charlie Rose earlier this week.

"Security and privacy are fundamental to the design of all our hardware, software, and services, including iCloud and new services like Apple Pay," Cook writes.

Apple's security methods were recently scrutinized after a batch of nude photos supposedly harvested from multiple celebrity iCloud accounts leaked online. In a statement released following the incident, Apple denied rumors of an iCloud breach and attributed the photo theft to "very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet."

In light of the celebrity photo kerfuffle, Apple rolled out more aggressive iCloud security measures, including two-step authentication for iCloud.com and app-specific passwords for software connecting with the cloud service.

Moving to personal data monetization, Cook took the opportunity to tear in to Google's business model, which is based on revenue earned from targeted ads. Unlike the Internet search giant, Apple's advertising business -- the iAd network -- is built on the same fundamental privacy tenets employed in other products and does not cultivate data from services like Maps, Siri and the new HealthKit framework found in iOS 8.

"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," Cook says.

Cook goes on to explain current Apple privacy policies and the need for greater transparency in reporting government data requests, a topic of concern for privacy advocates. In May, Apple announced it would routinely issue data request reports to keep the public apprised of U.S. national security orders and account information requests from various state agencies.

As for the updated privacy policies, Apple says changes "were made predominantly to cover new features in iOS 8, or to provide additional information on current use of data such as your date of birth or information you've provided about others (for example, when sending products or gift certificates to another person). None of these changes are retroactive." Also added was a more detailed description of technologies used for location-based services like GPS and cell tower positioning.

Cook's full letter follows below:
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.

One very small part of our business does serve advertisers, and that's iAd. We built an advertising network because some app developers depend on that business model, and we want to support them as well as a free iTunes Radio service. iAd sticks to the same privacy policy that applies to every other Apple product. It doesn't get data from Health and HomeKit, Maps, Siri, iMessage, your call history, or any iCloud service like Contacts or Mail, and you can always just opt out altogether.

Finally, I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will.

Our commitment to protecting your privacy comes from a deep respect for our customers. We know that your trust doesn't come easy. That's why we have and always will work as hard as we can to earn and keep it.

Tim
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 83
    This letter seems to indicate China govt is not asking backdoor from Apple. Or could it be Apple is about to pull a google gesture? I am still puzzled by the fact iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus is not launched in China 9/19.
  • Reply 2 of 83
    Thanks Tim.

    If you want to keep our trust, I suggest you don't push unwanted music into our private libraries.
  • Reply 3 of 83

    An open letter without provocation or prompting. That’s an important distinction.

  • Reply 4 of 83
    An open letter without provocation or prompting. That’s an important distinction.

    I have seen the "what about iad" comments come up in the online posts about trusting apple with your purchases and fitness data. I think Tim was reading some posts and decided to nip it in the bud before it got any bigger. He is going after Google big time with this you are the product mantra. I like it.
  • Reply 5 of 83
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,808member

    This is one hell of sincerity. He didn't have to do it but Apple always work hard to stay clean and remove any doubt created by media and it's self interest. We all know Apple care most to create the best products that human loves and less about exploiting our private information/data. You know, why ? Because Apple is no Google/Android whose bread and butter is adv that ties with exploiting people's private information/data.

  • Reply 6 of 83
    But we do want Apple to read our email, calendar etc, not to send AD etc to us, but to be a good assistant to us, remind us, automatically download map for us, listen on traffic alert for us etc.
  • Reply 7 of 83
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,107member
    Can someone link to the actual letter? I dont see it.
  • Reply 8 of 83
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,647member
    mubaili wrote: »
    But we do want Apple to read our email, calendar etc, not to send AD etc to us, but to be a good assistant to us, remind us, automatically download map for us, listen on traffic alert for us etc.

    But that is handled locally with your permission.
  • Reply 9 of 83
    ecatsecats Posts: 272member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post



    Thanks Tim.



    If you want to keep our trust, I suggest you don't push unwanted music into our private libraries.



    Did you really just try to correlate something as serious as individual privacy with something as benign and well meaning as receiving a free music album. (Notably one that you're neither compelled to keep, listen to, or in most configurations, even obtain.)

     

    It's absurd that people like yourself are trying to find a malicious tint in the free-music gesture. Apple have a long history of giving away music, from the weekly iTunes feature to preloading all early iBooks with a music library.

     

    What exactly is so upsetting about receiving a free music album? How on earth can you justify feeling even a little bit slighted?

  • Reply 10 of 83
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,107member

    Just read it awesome. There's also a bunch of subpages. This one is great, as it clearly educates people on what they should be doing to protect themselves, which is the real problem: http://www.apple.com/privacy/manage-your-privacy/

     

    Amazing how Apple has the time and motivation to publish all this stuff now with all the other updates they're pushing out. Truly a company that can walk and chew gum at the same time, so to speak. The sheer intensity of their execution is impressive. 

  • Reply 11 of 83
    ecats wrote: »

    Are you a troll, or a brat? Did you really just try to correlate something as serious as individual privacy with something as benign and well meaning as receiving a free music album. (Notably one that you're neither compelled to keep, listen to, or in most configurations, even obtain.)

    <span style="line-height:1.4em;">It's absurd that people like yourself are trying to find a malicious tint in the free-music gesture. </span>
    Apple have a long history of giving away music, from the weekly iTunes feature to preloading all early iBooks with a music library.

    What exactly is so upsetting about receiving a free music album? How on earth can you justify feeling even a little bit slighted?



    Benjamin Frost has been around long enough that he has demonstrated that he isn't a troll. He deserves the benefit of the doubt. There is a legitimate basis for a complaint; device storage and mobile data plans primarily.

    You should listen to TWiT tv. Leo Laporte couldn't stop his attacks against Apple for giving everyone a free album. I have seriously come to believe that Leo Laporte is either paid by Apple competitors or is completely out of touch with technology. He is far too biased now to be a the trustworthy news source he once was. Unfortunately, Leo Laporte is very well known in technology journalism.
  • Reply 12 of 83
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,360member

    Many Android users are basically selling their souls to the devil. The privacy and security of an Android user is obviously not worth all that much, since they were willing to sell themselves out and whore themselves out for almost nothing. Don't these people have any pride? Is it really worth putting your entire security at risk and sacrificing your privacy to save a few measly dollars maybe? Is it any wonder that I hold extremely low opinions of Android users?

     

    Let's forget about Apple having the best OS, the best apps and the best devices around for a moment. Privacy and security will be one of Apple's greatest strengths going forward, especially since mobile payments (?Pay) are about to take off big time.

     

    What is the net worth of the average Android user? $13.50? I would never in a million years want to have my personal info, my banking info, my financial info and other important info on any Android device. I also expect Touch ID to be included on virtually all Apple devices eventually, as that is a big step forward for security. Apple includes vital features that actually work and that people can trust, not gimmicky crap that hardly works.

     

    I read a funny thing today, Steve Wozniak said that he's ditching his Android phones now that the new iPhones are out.<img class=" src="http://forums-files.appleinsider.com/images/smilies//lol.gif" /> 

  • Reply 13 of 83
    chris_cachris_ca Posts: 2,543member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post



    Can someone link to the actual letter? I dont see it.



    -> http://www.apple.com/privacy/

  • Reply 14 of 83
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mubaili View Post



    This letter seems to indicate China govt is not asking backdoor from Apple. Or could it be Apple is about to pull a google gesture? I am still puzzled by the fact iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus is not launched in China 9/19.



    The lack of a launch in China has nothing to do with this issue. They can't launch it in China because the phones won't have required approvals. Basically the Chinese version of the FCC needs to give the phones a gold stamp before they can be sold in the country and they haven't yet. 

  • Reply 15 of 83
    Thanks Tim.

    If you want to keep our trust, I suggest you don't push unwanted music into our private libraries.

    Figure out how to delete a file from iTunes, and spare us your crap.
  • Reply 16 of 83
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post



    Thanks Tim.



    If you want to keep our trust, I suggest you don't push unwanted music into our private libraries.



    Then learn how your toys work and how to turn off things like automatic downloads. Because THAT is what pushed the album to your devices. 

  • Reply 17 of 83
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ECats View Post

     

    Are you a troll, or a brat? Did you really just try to correlate something as serious as individual privacy with something as benign and well meaning as receiving a free music album. (Notably one that you're neither compelled to keep, listen to, or in most configurations, even obtain.)

     

    It's absurd that people like yourself are trying to find a malicious tint in the free-music gesture. Apple have a long history of giving away music, from the weekly iTunes feature to preloading all early iBooks with a music library.

     

    What exactly is so upsetting about receiving a free music album? How on earth can you justify feeling even a little bit slighted?


    He's a brat.

  • Reply 18 of 83

    Awesome.  Now for the full-on "I'm iOS, I'm Android" ad promo that lays out exactly what "You are our customer, not our product" means.  Use truth and humor to creep out a few hundred million Google "product units" and turn them into Apple customers.  Dig out a few of Eric Schmidt's dismissive and cavalier pronouncements about privacy and let those words bite Google in the ass.

  • Reply 19 of 83
    Benjamin Frost has been around long enough that he has demonstrated that he isn't a troll. He deserves the benefit of the doubt. There is a legitimate basis for a complaint; device storage and mobile data plans primarily.

    You should listen to TWiT tv. Leo Laporte could stop his attacks against Apple for giving everyone a free album. I have seriously come to believe that Leo Laporte is either paid by Apple competitors or is completely out of touch with technology. He is far too biased now to be a the trustworthy news source he once was. Unfortunately, Leo Laporte is very well known in technology journalism.

    Try again. The album was only pushed to your device if you had automatic downloads enabled. If you are worried about data limits or storage, you have no business having automatic downloads enabled.
  • Reply 20 of 83
    Thanks Tim.

    If you want to keep our trust, I suggest you don't push unwanted music into our private libraries.

    Waaaaah! I was forced free stuff? That neither impacts my storage or... What?

    What does it impact?
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