Apple’s privacy dig at Google – reminds users they are customers, not product

18 Sep 2014

In setting out Apple’s manifesto on security with the arrival of iOS 8, CEO Tim Cook made a thinly veiled attack on rival Google, stating Apple does not monetise data stored on iPhone or in iCloud.

While Apple is still reeling from the uncomfortable glare of attention that came with the hacking of the iCloud accounts of Hollywood starlets such as Jennifer Lawrence, it still believes in the integrity of its systems, insisting better care needs to be taken of account information and passwords.

The company has been encouraging users to apply two-factor authentication and is bringing out a new system that allows users to take control of their iCloud account and restore data after alerting the Apple security team.

In a letter to customers, CEO Tim Cook launched a new web resource to inform and educate users on security.

He said Apple believes in telling users up front what is going to happen with their personal information and asking their permission before they share information with Apple.

“When we do ask to use your data, it’s to provide you with a better user experience.”

A core principle, he said, is if a customer changes their mind about sharing information, Apple will make it easy to stop sharing.

You are not the product, you are the customer

 “A few years ago, users of internet services began to realise that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product,” Cook observed.

“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 ‘monetise’ 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.”

Apple has its own iAd advertising network that Cook said was built to support app developers, as well as the 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.”

Cook emphasised Apple has never worked with any government agency in any country to create a back door in any of its products or services, nor has it allowed government agencies access to its servers.

“And we never will,” Cook said.

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