Data privacy is one of the most critical issues affecting consumers in the digital age. 72% of British people have admitted to concerns over the way in which their personal information is handled online, and this year’s GDPR process aimed to empower Europeans with greater control over this very issue.
There is still some way to go, but certain corporations are making good progress. While large brands like Google and Facebook have weathered recent storms, Apple has received praise for its efforts to safeguard their users’ privacy.
Apple’s Stand on Customers’ Data Privacy
Trust plays a crucial role in the public’s perception of a company and its reputation, and by taking protective steps, Apple continues to sell itself as the safer option over competitors.
So, what has this global giant done to help keep data private in 2018?
Taking a stand against “weaponized” data
Tim Cook, Apple’s Chief Executive, criticized the way in which companies were “weaponizing customers” data in unethical pursuit of greater profits. He has called for the introduction of the federal law to reinforce consumers’ rights to privacy online and prevent businesses exploiting people’s personal information.
While attending the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners, Cook emphasized that Apple would be willing to support such a law if it came into effect, highlighting the brand’s dedication to protecting users’ data.
Apple, as many of us may know, has designed its products to prevent itself from accessing users’ data. This has enabled them to swerve some of the troubling controversies Facebook et al. have encountered in the past couple of years.
Recent updates to Apple’s privacy measures mean its devices can help to protect consumers’ personal information and online activities safer than ever. No data submitted through Siri is collected or shared with third-party bodies, nor is information entered into the company’s map software.
Communications passing through FaceTime and text messages are reinforced with cutting-edge encryption too. Any data regarding facial recognition or fingerprints utilized on specific devices remain on them only, rather than going out into the ether. All credit card information is kept separate from the operating system for greater security.
We can all agree this is welcome news to Apple’s massive user-base and helps them stand out from those competitors taking up more negative headline space. However, it’s important to remember that Apple still collects some data, though the company has been keen to stress that all information gathered from consumers’ usage of its devices is used to provide a better experience, without affecting their privacy.
Apple highlighted its “Differential Privacy,” which is designed to keep data scrambled and mixed with information accumulated from millions of additional users, maximizing the anonymity of the individual.
As a result, Apple claims it can study, detect and identify patterns in a general way without pinpointing any unique elements that can be linked back to any single user.
This change applies to all apps and was an obvious next step considering Apple’s commitment to an ethical service. All apps and app updates are subject to the rule, and privacy policies must be available before any software can be made available through the App Store.
The corporation provided a simple step-by-step process for adding or editing privacy policies on the App Store, making it easy for developers and companies to adhere to the regulation.
This move gives Apple additional protection and reduces the likelihood that it will face similar issues as Facebook. The Cambridge Analytica scandal saw Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, subject to questioning by the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.
No corporation wants to have its leader put in such a difficult situation in full view of the general public, and Apple is focused on taking steps to avoid it.
Building a better Safari
Last but not least, Apple also announced the latest version of its Safari browser. This has been designed to deliver even greater data-privacy, as a stark contrast to those browsers utilizing ad-tracking and other data-gathering processes. How so?
One of the most impressive features in the updated version of Safari is the browser’s ability to notify users whenever a website attempts to access their data (such as cookies), offering a choice to allow or deny this action. As GDPR was created to help give consumers more choice over sharing data with full transparency from sites, Safari will complement it nicely.
Another key element of the new Safari is its combatting “fingerprinting,” in which marketers gather details about browsing devices to aid tracking. Safari’s update is intended to make this process much more difficult, hiding such data and allowing marketers to see only basic information about a device’s configuration.
Safari’s password system has been overhauled too: the browser will try to stop users from employing the same password for multiple sites/accounts. This can help to keep consumers safer online and reduce their risk.
This is yet another positive move on Apple’s part, demonstrating what appears to be a sincere drive to maximize users’ privacy online and offline.
At a time when consumers are paying more attention to their information’s safety and security than ever, Apple has wisely sold itself as a forward-thinking, reliable choice in 2018. The corporation seems to be tuned-in to consumers’ fears and expectations, with a focus on innovating in small-but-effective ways.
It remains to be seen how Apple will continue to act on this and protect users’ privacy in the coming years, but it’s fair to say it has laid a solid foundation to build upon.
Are you a fan of Apple’s products and services, and has your view of the brand changed throughout the past year at all? What would you like to see it achieve in 2019?
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