Apple launches privacy website to allow users to download their data. Elizabeth Keatinge has more.
A few months ago, if you wanted to find out what kind of personal information Apple had collected on you, you needed to navigate to Apple’s privacy website, locate a hard-to-find tab to request the info and await its arrival.
That changes today, with the introduction of a new privacy portal that will offer one click access to get the information, delete it, pause an Apple.com account or kill it altogether.
You’ll still have to wait a few days to retrieve the information, from the updated http://www.apple.com/privacy section of the Apple website, as Apple confirms the request, but it should be way easier to find the tools now.
Apple updates its privacy website every fall, after the introduction of new phones and software upgrades to the mobile and computer operating systems, iOS12 and MacOS, which this year is called Mojave.
Privacy has become a big buzzword for tech consumers, in the wake of massive vulnerabilities of Facebook and Google that exposed how the companies were targeting us with ads that tracked our every move.
When I requested my data dump from Apple in May, it took eight days to arrive. And when it did, there wasn’t much there. Apple says the information is primarily kept on your device, not its servers. The one sentence highlight: a list of my downloads, purchases and repairs, but not my search histories through the Siri personal assistant or the Safari browser.
That’s the main point that Apple makes on the web. “Whether you’re taking a photo, asking Siri a question or getting directions, you can do it knowing that Apple doesn’t gather your personal information to sell to advertisers or other organizations,” Apple says on the website.
The company points out the privacy contained on various devices, from the iPhone, Apple Watch and iPad to software like Apple Pay and Siri.
Apple’s approach on privacy could be a marketing message as well, showing a clear distinction between the company and rival Android, the operating system from Google that has an 85% market share worldwide. Google takes a more hands-on approach, using some of our data to sell to advertisers.
New for 2018:
– The MacOS update demands that companies that put in software tracking “cookies” that, say, follow you with ads for a pair of shoes after you’ve looked them up on Amazon.com, must first inform you and ask permission before they can be installed on your computer.
– A new feature on the iPhone and iPads is called “Screen Time,” and it tracks usage on the device, to let you know just how many hours a day you spend with, say, Twitter or other apps. But Apple points out the information is a one-way street. You know it, Apple doesn’t.
– An automatic password feature was added to iOS and MacOS to make it easier to create hard-to-hack passwords and store them with Apple’s iCloud Keychain. Apple says this is a move to wean people from logging in with social media logins like Facebook or Google that track you after you’ve signed in. The Keychain doesn’t track you, Apple says.
To protect your privacy on the site, Apple recommends using a hard-to-decode passcode on the iPhone and iPad (unlike rapper Kanye West, who showed off the easy-to-crack 000000 code in a meeting last week with president Donald Trump), enable FaceID or TouchID as well, for biometric safety, and to turn on two-factor authentication, which has you sign in twice before you can use your device.
Apple CEO Tim Cook will be the keynote speaker at the 2018 International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners next Wednesday in Brussels, the first time a tech CEO has addressed the gathering.
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