Apple reveals new privacy features in global update ahead of GDPR

29 Mar 2018

iPhone X with Face ID. Image: Hadrian/Shutterstock

A new Apple update will make it easier to understand privacy information.

Tonight (29 March), Apple is rolling out new privacy information features and an icon that will appear on devices to show you if your data is being used by applications.

Tech giant Apple’s privacy policies and rules are already aligned with the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that becomes law on 25 May across the EU.

‘We are for privacy. Your information is yours and you should keep it’

Future Human

The new features are designed to give users greater clarity and certainty about the safety of their data. The update comes in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica-Facebook affair, which has served as a worldwide wake-up call about data privacy.

The new data privacy information and privacy icon update goes live tonight worldwide across macOS 10.13.4, iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3.

It is understood that the updated information and privacy logo will also appear on all devices sold by the company from today.

Privacy by design

Apple reveals new privacy features in global update ahead of GDPR

The new privacy screen that will come with the Apple update will soon appear on all iOS devices sold from today (29 March). Image: Apple

Apple has ‘privacy by design’ embedded into its products and software and, as a rule, takes measures to minimise the amount of data it collects.

Unlike other tech giants, which gather data that effectively turns users into the product, Apple minimises data collection and instead prefers to sell actual products to customers.

This can be seen in Apple Pay, where the company does not gather financial information, as well as the Secure Enclave Processor, which prevents iOS from creating a database of fingerprint or facial ID information.

The new privacy information changes are designed to put customers in control of their own data and make it easier to change settings.

The privacy screens will make it easier to understand how and when Apple uses customers’ data when they sign in or turn on new features.

The new privacy logo of two people interacting will appear on the device’s screen to indicate that data, such as location information for Maps, is being used at any given time.

The software update – which will be pushed worldwide tonight – will be accompanied by a major update to Apple’s website, which will also explain the changes.

Privacy management tools

In May, Apple also plans to unveil new privacy management tools that will appear on users’ Apple ID account page.

These tools will have a number of key functions, including the ability to get a copy of your data, request a correction to your data, deactivate your account and, ultimately, delete your account.

In recent days, Apple CEO Tim Cook made a point of criticising Facebook for both the Cambridge Analytica scandal and its overall approach to consumer privacy.

Responding to questions from Kara Swisher during an appearance at the recent Recode-MSNBC Revolution event, Cook said: “The truth is, we could make a ton of money if we monetised our customer, if our customer was our product. We’ve elected not to do that.”

Apple vows never to give keys to the backdoor


Tim Cook with Trinity College Dublin students in November 2015. Image: Apple

The comments echo a similar stance voiced by Cook during an appearance at Trinity College Dublin in November 2015.

At the time, Apple was being urged by the FBI to give up the keys to the encryption of its iMessage service following the San Bernardino killings – something Apple refused and continues to refuse to do – and the UK was passing the Investigatory Powers Bill that proposed a backdoor for spy and police agencies.

“All of us would say that we want to be secure and have the bad guys shipped off somewhere but the reality of today is, there are hackers everywhere. People want to take your data, there are bad governments in the world and bad people in the world and, if you leave a backdoor in software, there’s no such thing as a backdoor for the good guys only,” said Cook.

“We feel strongly that the safest approach is for the world to encrypt end to end with no backdoor. This protects the most people. Encryption is not something only a few companies have, it’s not something you can regulate. If you close down a few companies, it’s not like the bad guys don’t have encryption of their own. They’ll just go to another source.

“We … continue to encrypt iMessage end to end. We would end up exposing the 99.999pc if we don’t. Your personal information is yours, not ours. We don’t own your data. We don’t collect it. We don’t feel we should have your personal data; you are not our product.

“If we convince you to buy our iPhone, we will make a bit of money, but we don’t want to know the juicy bits about your life. We are for privacy. Your information is yours and you should keep it. We intend to encrypt end to end with no backdoor.”

iPhone X with Face ID. Image: Hadrian/Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years