Print 9 comment(s) - last by NellyFromMA.. on Jul 14 at 11:57 AM

Apple defends its efforts to protect user data, throws Google under the bus

On Thursday, China Central Television (CCTV) took to the airwaves to decry that Apple’s iOS 7 operating system is a threat to national security interests. In its report, it cited Chinese security experts that deemed that Apple’s Frequent Locations feature could be compromised by malicious parties, and represents a threat to “state secrets.”
Like previous assaults from CCTV, Apple was quick to fire back and defends its actions. In a letter presented in both English and in Chinese on Apple’s Chinese-language website, the Cupertino, California-based company stated that it appreciates “CCTV’s effort to help educate customers on a topic we think is very important.”
However, before even finishing with the first paragraph of its letter, Apple took a jab at Google’s privacy efforts, stating, “Unlike many companies, our business does not depend on collecting large amounts of personal data about our customers. We are strongly committed to giving our customers clear and transparent notice, choice and control over their information, and we believe our products do this in a simple and elegant way.”
Apple went on to detail things “we do and we don’t do” when it comes to user data. Apple made it clear that it doesn’t track the location of its users, and never has. The company maintains that it does use a crowd-sourced database that stores WLAN hotspot and cell tower location information in an effort to make it easier for customers to determine their current location (instead of relying solely on GPS data, which can take much longer to lock on).
But Apple is quick to point out that while collecting this information, “any data that is uniquely associated with the device or the customer” is not sent to Apple servers.

Location Services must first be enabled by the user, and individual apps can be blocked from using location-based data (Left). Apple provides further control of system-level services that access location data (Right). 

The main thrust of CCTVs criticism of iOS 7 was in Apple’s Frequent Locations feature. However, Apple has a response to this as well, stating that not only is Frequent Location data encrypted, but it is not backed up to your computer via iTunes or iCloud.
The company continues:
Apple does not have access to Frequent Locations or the location cache on any user’s iPhone at any time. We encrypt the cache by the user’s passcode and it is protected from access by any app. In the interest of even greater transparency for our customers, if a user enters their passcode successfully, they are able to see the data collected on their device. Once the device is locked no one is able to view that information without entering the passcode.
Apple also makes it clear that all Location Service features within iOS 7 are “opt-in.” A customer must first enable the service, and Apple provides further granular control over individual apps and Apple system services that access the data with On/Off switches [buried deep] in the setting app.

Source: Apple

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By Camikazi on 7/13/2014 6:24:28 PM , Rating: 2
Didn't Apple get in trouble a while ago because their devices were tracking and logging locations? I mean even if it was an accident their devices were doing it and it was doing it for a reason so this line isn't all that true.

By saarek on 7/14/2014 7:16:51 AM , Rating: 3
+1, it's not about being "nice". It's about having a different business model and selling to your strengths.

By Vertigo2000 on 7/14/2014 9:14:36 AM , Rating: 2
Unless you're on the Board of Directors or a VP in the company or in any position within Apple that has access to that info, there is no way you can say with any amount of certainty what Apple's business model is.

Google makes boat loads of money collecting and selling user data. Apple is in the business of making money. You don't think that the shareholders want something similar and have pushed for it in order to line their pockets?

Sounds like lip service to me.

By Reflex on 7/14/2014 9:44:57 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not a fan of Tony's Apple fanboyism, however on this he is correct.

And yes we do know what Apple's business model is. They disclose it every three months with SEC filings like all publicly traded corporations are required to do. Furthermore, if they were secretly making money on selling user data the income from that revenue stream would have to be disclosed and it would not be a secret.

I tend to prefer Microsoft solutions for similar reasons, I want to be the customer not the product. But I'm fine with others choosing differently.

By Cheesew1z69 on 7/14/2014 9:54:32 AM , Rating: 2
We also use personal information to help us create, develop, operate, deliver, and improve our products, services, content and advertising, and for loss prevention and anti-fraud purposes.

By Reclaimer77 on 7/14/2014 11:01:08 AM , Rating: 1
I tend to prefer Microsoft solutions for similar reasons, I want to be the customer not the product

Oh dear...

I hate to have to bring this up, again, but Microsoft sells user data. They run the SAME targeted add agency model Google does.

On top of that, they've sold user data to the FBI, NSA, and other agencies. And actively worked with the NSA to break their own encryption services and helped our Government spy on people.

They've even sold user data for political campaigns.

So I'm sorry, but you very much are the "product" to Microsoft.

By tonyswash on 7/14/2014 11:00:17 AM , Rating: 1
Unless you're on the Board of Directors or a VP in the company or in any position within Apple that has access to that info, and if you are super dense, there is no way you can say with any amount of certainty what Apple's business model is.

I corrected your comment.

By NellyFromMA on 7/14/2014 11:57:30 AM , Rating: 2
I think the controversy you're referring to regarded the location data as stored on the device itself strictly.

IIRC, the controversy involved the fact that it wasn't all that hard for someone to access the location data (which could represent a history of locations) stored on the device itself.

The controversy sort of fizzled out because there wasn't any transmission of that files contents uploaded to Apple servers, and it was likely also true of Google and perhaps MS and BB devices as well. If that's incorrect though, please correct it.

It's the uninformed cloud-storage and hyper-analysis of that data cross-referenced with various other pseudo-psychological data that is troublesome, not that a device with a GPS sensor actually output GPS data.

"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins

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