Tim Cook posts open letter on privacy, Apple updates policies for iOS 8

Apple has just posted some updated privacy policies that were changed due to the launch of iOS 8. The changes were accompanied by a letter written by Apple CEO Tim Cook.

According to Apple, "The changes were made predominantly to cover new features that will be released with iOS 8 or to provide additional information on current data use such as date of birth and third party user data provided by our users (for example when sending products or gift certificates). None of the changes are retroactive."

Here's the full letter from Tim Cook:

At Apple, your trust means everything to us. That's why we respect your privacy and protect it with strong encryption, plus strict policies that govern how all data is handled. Security and privacy are fundamental to the design of all our hardware, software, and services, including iCloud and new services like Apple Pay. And we continue to make improvements. Two-step verification, which we encourage all our customers to use, in addition to protecting your Apple ID account information, now also protects all of the data you store and keep up to date with iCloud.

We believe in telling you up front exactly what's going to happen to your personal information and asking for your permission before you share it with us. And if you change your mind later, we make it easy to stop sharing with us. Every Apple product is designed around those principles. When we do ask to use your data, it's to provide you with a better user experience.

We're publishing this website to explain how we handle your personal information, what we do and don't collect, and why. We're going to make sure you get updates here about privacy at Apple at least once a year and whenever there are significant changes to our policies.

A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realize that when an online service is free, you're not the customer. You're the product. 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 "monetize" 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.

One very small part of our business does serve advertisers, and that's iAd. We built an advertising network because some app developers depend on that business model, and we want to support them as well as a 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.

Finally, I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will.

Our commitment to protecting your privacy comes from a deep respect for our customers. We know that your trust doesn't come easy. That's why we have and always will work as hard as we can to earn and keep it.

Tim

Source: Apple (opens in new tab)

I have been writing professionally about technology and gaming news for 14 years.

10 Comments
  • Sigh of relief!
  • That's kind of a play on words...none of the service providers have allowed access to their servers yet...they give specific information up when subpoenaed for it though...its the law. If a court hands down a subpoena demanding access to Apple servers, they would comply. Posted via the Android iMore App!
  • No gobbledygook and another reason to go all-in with Apple--which I did 3 years ago after finally seeing what was going on with most other companies in the industry and, of course, seeing how superior Apple products and services are in comparison! Thank you, Mr. Cook!
  • If all of That is true, I will never leave apple. Sent from the iMore App
  • Well done Mr. Cook. Sent from the iMore App
  • Solid words that are at least in part undermined by the actual legal document. Quotes taken from the updated legal document at https://www.apple.com/legal/privacy/en-ww/#mn_p Two prime examples: Cook: "We don't build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers." Actual Apple Privacy Policy: "With your explicit consent, we may collect data about how you use your device and applications in order to help app developers improve their apps." Especially with so many freemium and ad-supported devs in the App Store, that distinction seems like hair-splitting, at best. In addition, the only place for explicit consent is in clicking in the initial EULA, which is no more or less consent than clicking through the box when setting up your gmail account. Cook: "we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will." Actual Apple Privacy Policy: "We may also disclose information about you if we determine that for purposes of national security, law enforcement, or other issues of public importance, disclosure is necessary or appropriate." While it is admirable that Cook says they are not going to create backdoors or allow direct server access, that seems entirely irrelevant if Apple, at their sole discretion, can choose to provide that information directly. Edited: forgot quotation marks
  • Care to copy and paste any of Google's "privacy policy"?
    If there even is such a thing. Edited: and yeah, don't forget the quotation marks.
  • All companies have one; Google's has many of the same clauses, and it may be worse. Link is here: http://www.google.com/policies/privacy/ I am not parsing Google's policy here because Google is ultimately irrelevant to the discussion of how Tim Cook's words reflect (or do not reflect) Apple corporate policy. The point remains there is some high minded checks promised to users in the open letter that Apple's official policies will not cash. If Apple's views truly matter to you, you should want clarification on the discrepancy. Pointing to the boogeyman across the street does nothing to advance the conversation at home.
  • It's nice to hear a letter from a CEO that actually sounds sincere and not like it was written by a press agent. Sent from the iMore App
  • Apple: "We are not in the business of collecting your data." - Eddie Cue, 9/9/14 Google: [nervous fidgeting, crickets chirping ...]