Apple radically expands privacy features on Mail, Safari, apps, and Siri

Posted:
in iPhone edited June 7
At WWDC, Apple's Katie Skinner and Erik Neuenschwander looked at new privacy features across the Apple ecosystem.

Craig Federighi on privacy at WWDC 2021
Craig Federighi on privacy at WWDC 2021


Following a humorous sight gag in which Apple's Craig Federighi appeared to jump into a hole, he and other Apple executives laid out the latest privacy initiatives.

"At Apple, we believe privacy is a fundamental human right," Federighi said. "We don't think you should have to make a tradeoff between great features and privacy. We believe you deserve both."

"Today, privacy is more important than ever," he added." Because when you use the Internet and third-party apps, you can be tracked by a complex system of data brokers and ad-tech firms, often without your permission. You don't think this is right."

Apple Privacy Engineering Manager Katie Skinner started by talking about Mail and noted that emails often use "invisible pixels" to collect information.

"We think you should be able to choose whether to allow this or not," she said. "So now, in the Mail app, we're introducing Mail Privacy Protection." If selected, the new feature will hide the user's IP address and prevent senders from telling if a particular email has been opened.




Apple Software Manager Erik Neuenschwander addressed cross-site tracking in Safari.

"Safari leads the industry in protecting you against cross-site tracking, with intelligent tracking prevention. And this year, we're making it even stronger, by hiding your IP address from trackers, so they can't use it to link your activity across different sites, or learn your location."

Apple has also announced an App Privacy Report, similar to the existing Safari Privacy Report.

Skinner and Neuenschwander also announced what it called a "major update" to the privacy features on Siri.




"Today, we're introducing on-device speech recognition," Neuenschwander said. "This means that by default, your audio is all processed right on your iPhone or iPad. This addresses the biggest privacy concern we hear about voice assistants, which is unwanted audio recording."

This allows for Siri usage without an Internet connection and also "speeds things up," he said.

Follow all the details of WWDC 2021 with the comprehensive AppleInsider coverage of the whole week-long event from June 7 through June 11, including details of all the new launches and updates.

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patchythepirate

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    AppleishAppleish Posts: 371member
    Good. Starve data miners.
    williamlondonAlex_VStrangeDayswatto_cobralostkiwijony0
  • Reply 2 of 14
    hmlongcohmlongco Posts: 311member
    So did Apple basically just announce their own VPN service?
    Alex_Vwilliamlondonwatto_cobralostkiwijony0
  • Reply 3 of 14
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,521member
    hmlongco said:
    So did Apple basically just announce their own VPN service?
    It sounded like that to me too, but they called it by another name. So it may be something different. I'm sure someone will correct us in this thread.
    Alex_Vwatto_cobralostkiwi
  • Reply 4 of 14
    cg27cg27 Posts: 127member
    This is great but why weren’t IP addresses hidden all along, or at least years ago?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 14
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,521member
    cg27 said:
    This is great but why weren’t IP addresses hidden all along, or at least years ago?
    Hidden by what, your local client or some other server? If the former, how would data get back to you? If the latter, how would the server owner get compensated for that service?

    Apple has decided to provide the latter and charging users through iCloud+.
    edited June 7 Rayz2016watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 14
    cg27cg27 Posts: 127member
    cg27 said:
    This is great but why weren’t IP addresses hidden all along, or at least years ago?
    Hidden by what, your local client or some other server? If the former, how would data get back to you? If the latter, how would the server owner get compensated for that service?

    Apple has decided to provide the latter and charging users through iCloud+.
    Thanks for explaining, but it still seems that this could, and perhaps should, have been achieved sooner than now.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 14
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,827member
    This was the most exciting part of the keynote for me. Yeah, it does kind of sound like Apple is doing something similar to a VPN or at least a fixed relay Tor-like service. I’ll take whatever keeps the data harvesters at bay, at least until they change their tactics and Apple has to develop a new way to block their new attack vector. The spy-vs-spy battle will never cease. It’s a whack-a-mole problem.
    williamlondonBombdoewatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 14
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,521member
    cg27 said:
    cg27 said:
    This is great but why weren’t IP addresses hidden all along, or at least years ago?
    Hidden by what, your local client or some other server? If the former, how would data get back to you? If the latter, how would the server owner get compensated for that service?

    Apple has decided to provide the latter and charging users through iCloud+.
    Thanks for explaining, but it still seems that this could, and perhaps should, have been achieved sooner than now.  
    I could probably agree with you on that.

    Apple probably won't let people hide which country they are from because Apple is in the media business itself and they have to know which country a person is in for their own media-controlling purposes. For example, I'd like to pay for Paramount+ and get the US content, but I'm stuck with the Canadian content of Paramount+ which feels like 50% of what the US gets. Because of these limitations Apple probably doesn't call it a "VPN".
    patchythepiratecg27watto_cobralostkiwijony0
  • Reply 9 of 14
    cg27cg27 Posts: 127member
    cg27 said:
    cg27 said:
    This is great but why weren’t IP addresses hidden all along, or at least years ago?
    Hidden by what, your local client or some other server? If the former, how would data get back to you? If the latter, how would the server owner get compensated for that service?

    Apple has decided to provide the latter and charging users through iCloud+.
    Thanks for explaining, but it still seems that this could, and perhaps should, have been achieved sooner than now.  
    I could probably agree with you on that.

    Apple probably won't let people hide which country they are from because Apple is in the media business itself and they have to know which country a person is in for their own media-controlling purposes. For example, I'd like to pay for Paramount+ and get the US content, but I'm stuck with the Canadian content of Paramount+ which feels like 50% of what the US gets. Because of these limitations Apple probably doesn't call it a "VPN".
    Interesting, didn’t consider this angle, and probably many more.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 14
    cg27 said:
    This is great but why weren’t IP addresses hidden all along, or at least years ago?

    Apple has decided to provide the latter and charging users through iCloud+.
    I’m not sure that is the case. This article didn’t mention iCloud+ and the topics it covers were also not a part of the iCloud+ presentation. The way I understood it from the keynote is that the features listed in this article come with the new OS, not with an additional fee. 
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 14
    lostkiwilostkiwi Posts: 633member
    I understand that Siri will do on device processing, but what about Dictation?  That is a super handy little function, particularly for Messages when conversing with people who just don't like voice messages.

    Very impressed with the privacy initiatives, Apple.  Keep them coming!
    williamlondon
  • Reply 12 of 14
    cg27 said:
    cg27 said:
    This is great but why weren’t IP addresses hidden all along, or at least years ago?
    Hidden by what, your local client or some other server? If the former, how would data get back to you? If the latter, how would the server owner get compensated for that service?

    Apple has decided to provide the latter and charging users through iCloud+.
    Thanks for explaining, but it still seems that this could, and perhaps should, have been achieved sooner than now.  
    It has been achieved sooner than now, just not by Apple.  Various VPN products have been doing this for quite a while, albeit not in quite the same way (if I understand what they did, anyway).
  • Reply 13 of 14
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,521member
    cg27 said:
    This is great but why weren’t IP addresses hidden all along, or at least years ago?

    Apple has decided to provide the latter and charging users through iCloud+.
    I’m not sure that is the case. This article didn’t mention iCloud+ and the topics it covers were also not a part of the iCloud+ presentation. The way I understood it from the keynote is that the features listed in this article come with the new OS, not with an additional fee. 
    I understand your point, but I don’t think it’s possible to implement this without servers on the internet run by Apple. Whether they require an iCloud subscription may still be up for debate. 
  • Reply 14 of 14
    cg27 said:
    This is great but why weren’t IP addresses hidden all along, or at least years ago?

    Apple has decided to provide the latter and charging users through iCloud+.
    I’m not sure that is the case. This article didn’t mention iCloud+ and the topics it covers were also not a part of the iCloud+ presentation. The way I understood it from the keynote is that the features listed in this article come with the new OS, not with an additional fee. 
    I understand your point, but I don’t think it’s possible to implement this without servers on the internet run by Apple. Whether they require an iCloud subscription may still be up for debate. 
    Check out this page on apple.com: https://www.apple.com/ios/ios-15-preview/

    If you scroll down to “Privacy” it gives a brief overview of the new Mail Privacy Protection, along with Siri and App Privacy Report. Scroll down just a bit further and you’ll get to the iCloud+ preview, which mentions it is an all new subscription and gives overview on iCloud Private Relay and Hide My Email.  

    It seems there is some confusion here between the privacy measures coming in iOS 15 Mail and the privacy measures coming to iCloud+. Obviously, I can’t know for sure but it seems some are conflating iCloud Private Relay and Mail Privacy Protection. 

    Side note: I find it interesting that Apple is introducing Hide My Email, which, on the surface, seems reminiscent of when Apple used to offer email aliases to .mac subscribers. I still have a few working email aliases from those days, but I can’t find a way to manage them.
    williamlondon
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