Skip to main content

Apple’s response to Congressional privacy inquiry is mercifully free of horrifying revelations

It’s not infrequent these days if you’re a big tech company to receive a brusquely worded letter from a group of Senators or Representatives asking you to explain yourself on some topic or another. One recent such letter sent to Apple and Alphabet asks specifically about practices meant to track users or their interactions with the phone without their knowledge or consent. Luckily Apple has much to be proud of on that front.

“Apple’s philosophy and approach to customer data differs from many other companies on these important issue,” preened Timothy Powderly, Apple’s director of federal government affairs, in the company’s response to the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s questions.

“We believe privacy is a fundamental human right and purposely design our products and services to minimize our collection of customer data,” he goes on. “The customer is not our product, and our business model does not depend on collecting vast amounts of personally identifiable information to enrich targeted profiles marketed to advertisers.”

To whom could Powderly be referring?

The Committee’s questions were perhaps spurred by reports of unwanted collection of audio data from the likes of Amazon Echos and other devices that listen eagerly for the magic words that set them to work. So the actual queries were along the lines of: when a phone has no SIM card, what kind of location data is collected; whom does that data go to and for what purpose; does the device listen when it has not been “invoked”; and so on.

Apple’s responses, which you can read here (thanks CNET), are blessedly free of the kind of half-answers that usually indicate some kind of shenanigans.

The answers to most questions are that users who have Location Services enabled on the phone will collect data depending on what wireless options are selected, and that data is sent to Apple in anonymous and encrypted form… and “this anonymous data is not used to target advertising to the user.”

iPhones only listen in with a short buffer for the “Hey Siri” wake-up call, and queries to the virtual assistant are not shared with third parties.

“Unlike other similar services, which associate and store historical voice utterances in identifiable form,” the answer goes on, throwing shade all the while, “Siri utterances, which include the audio trigger and the remainder of the Siri command, are tied to a random device identifier, not a user’s Apple ID.” This identifier can be reset at any time (turn Siri and Dictation off and on again) and any data associated with it will disappear as well.

Apple has its flaws, but its privacy settings are thankfully not among them. It’s true what it says: it’s not a data-monger like Google or Facebook, and has no need to personally profile its users the way Amazon does. It may sell increasingly iffy hardware at truly eye-popping prices, and it may have lost its design edge (been a while now), but at least it isn’t, in this sense at least, evil by nature.



from TechCrunch https://ift.tt/2M4hn3P

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Android blatantly copies the iPhone X navigation gestures

Google unveiled some of the new features in the next version of Android at its developer conference. One feature looked particularly familiar. Android P will get new navigation gestures to switch between apps. And it works just like the iPhone X.“As part of Android P, we’re introducing a new system navigation that we’ve been working on for more than a year now,” VP of Android Engineering Dave Burke said. “And the new design makes Android multitasking more approachable and easier to understand.”While Google has probably been working on a new multitasking screen for a year, it’s hard to believe that the company didn’t copy Apple. The iPhone X was unveiled in September 2017.On Android P, the traditional home, back and multitasking buttons are gone. There’s a single pill-shaped button at the center of the screen. If you swipe up from this button, you get a new multitasking view with your most recent apps. You can swipe left and right and select the app you’re looking for.If you swipe up o…

Square launches restaurant point-of-sale platform

Square, which has already made its way into retail stores and service-based businesses (think hair salons, massage therapists, etc), is officially getting into the restaurant business with the launch of Square for Restaurants. Square for Restaurants is a point-of-sale system that handles everything from menu updates, floor layouts, employee scheduling, performance tracking to tip splitting.Usually, restaurants have “some old legacy thing or something else,” Square Seller Lead Alyssa Henry told me.“Historically, we’ve not served this customer segment very well,” Henry said. “With Square for Restaurants, we’re excited to finally be able to serve this customer segment and deliver on a couple of key things that are core to Square but also highly valued by sellers of all types.”This new product is designed to be fast, self-serve, elegant and cohesive, Henry said. It also integrates seamlessly into Square’s existing ecosystem that includes Payroll, Capital and more. Given Square’s ownership…

Recapping the TechCrunch China Shenzhen 2018 event

This year we returned to Shenzhen, the Chinese city known as the world’s ‘Silicon Valley for hardware,’ for an event that was packed full of future-looking discussions, innovative startups, experienced founders, VCs and more.We love Shenzhen. Sure, Beijing has Zhongguancun and Shanghai has its international and diverse entrepreneurial community. But Shenzhen has a certain je ne sais quoi, an energy that pervades the entire city. Maybe it’s the great weather or maybe its youth of the place — both the residents and the age of the city itself — but every time we come to this southern city, we’re amazed by the people, projects, and companies thriving here.#Shenzhen, not Beijing or Shanghai, is the forerunner of Chinese innovation, says @ganglu, founder and CEO of TechNode #tcshenzhen@technodechina#reshapinginnovationpic.twitter.com/7ZX2o2Cpg1— TechNode (@technodechina) November 19, 2018 This year was no different. From blockchain smartphones to battling robots, from hackathons to VC speed …