Apple has been doing a lot of talking about privacy over the last three years and it just keeps ramping up. It seemed to fall largely on deaf ears at first, but that has changed dramatically. The narrative on privacy has shifted due to a deluge of stories about large-scale hacks, user data abuse and lax online security. Where people once trusted the online services they are using and didn’t make their personal digital privacy a high priority, that has all changed fairly quickly.
I have no reason to trust Sundar Pichai when talking about Google’s sudden love of all things privacy, as detailed during this year’s Google I/O and a subsequent self-serving op-ed in the New York Times. Google may be better than Facebook by a wide margin, but using customer data will always be key to their business model. As such, they can never be as focused on user data privacy as Apple currently is.
Photo Source: New York Times
So Google has seen the light on privacy, or so they tell us. Sundar Pichai spent a LOT of very valuable stage time during the Google I/O Keynote trying to shift the narrative that they are only interested in Hoovering up as much user data as possible and convince us that they have turned over a new leaf. Was he successful?
Photo Source: Apple via YouTube
A couple of days ago, Apple released a new Ad entitled Privacy on iPhone- Private Side, which takes a lighthearted approach to bragging about the company’s current all-in approach to user data privacy.
I like the fact that Apple has taken a pro-privacy stance in recent years. Considering how the rest of the big tech giants treat users and their data, it is a positive to have some type of check against that power. However, I don’t have any illusions about what Apple is doing. It is very simple. They don’t need to monetize our data, while their primary competitors do, so their stance on privacy has nothing to do with any altruism on their part. It is a position of convenience. A bat they can swing at the high, hanging privacy fastball that companies like Facebook and Google hang right over the plate for them.
When it comes to electronic devices, especially mobile phones, the big big buzz word these day is privacy. Makes sense, it’s a big deal. Almost as important as privacy is how you mange your privacy settings. Personalizing settings to fit your lifestyle and needs can be cumbersome and consuming. If users are confused or overwhelmed they are much less likely to reap the benefits of being able to keep their information safe and private. When privacy is sacrificed at the hands of convenience bad things can happen to good people.
One of the more configureable settings on your iPad that can impact your privacy is Location Services. Location based services are a hot topic because they can be very helpful in predicting our needs and preparing us for upcoming events. However they can also become intrusive if given too much access–it just depends on what your expectations are and how informed you are from the beginning. To make it easier, let’s walk through his to configure Location Services your iPad.
One of the most important things we can do to keep us safer in this day and age is to actively take a responsible role in controlling the information we share on our electronic devices. Apple has made this somewhat easier for us by adjusting many of the iPad’s default settings to safer modes out of the box. Safeguards like this force us to have to give permission to apps the first time they require information that would generally be considered private.
The category at the top of the list when it comes to privacy is the often debated, Location Services. This is because apps that are compatible with Location Services can potentially gather and use your information as data points indicating your location. One way this information can be translated is via local Wi-Fi networks, when activated on your iPad. However the data collected by Apple is completely anonymous and does not identify you or your location in a way that personally identifies you. Furthermore, you will always be able to tell when an app is currently using your location because there will be an icon of an arrow next to it in the Location Services portion of the Settings App.
Security and privacy go hand-in-hand. However, Apple is a firm believer that security shouldn’t come at the expense of individual privacy–and this is a _very_ good thing for us. But what does that really mean for the average consumer, and what is Apple really doing with all of our data?
Luckily for us, Apple has been on the front lines, carrying the torch when it comes to privacy. They’re often touted for their strong stance on consumer rights and privacy, as well as their own transparency on the subject. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recently awarded Apple their highest ranking in their latest “Who Has Your Back?” report–giving them 5/5 stars .
What is Apple’s policy regarding requests for information?
How does Apple handle requests from law enforcement officials for information about customers and their Apple devices?
- All requests are required to be accompanied by a subpoena or search warrant.
- Each request is carefully reviewed to ensure that there’s a valid legal basis for it.
- Apple’s response is limited to only the data law enforcement is legally entitled to for the specific investigation.
- Apple does not work with _any_ government agency from any country to create a “backdoor” in any of our products or services.
- They have never allowed any government access to their servers.