Apple Rolls Out Online Privacy Tool For US Users

Apple has made an online tool available to users in the US and some other countries that brings together new privacy controls first introduced earlier this year in Europe in response to new data protection laws.

The company made the tool available on its privacy website for users in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, giving them a centralised place to download the information Apple has collected about them, as well as making changes to the data, or suspending or permanently deleting their Apple accounts.

Apple previously offered these functions in different places, but brought them together for the European tool, which rolled out in May.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook

Transparency

It plans to make the same tool available to users around the world by the end of this year.

The data includes address book contacts, calendar appointments, music streaming preferences and details about past repairs to Apple products.

Apple has in recent years moved to increase the transparency to users around their data, for instance rolling out messages across its apps earlier this year with information about the company’s data practices.

Information provided on the company’s newly updated privacy website explains that Apple collects data on users’ reading habits, but says the data is linked to an anonymous identifier that isn’t connected to other services and that can be reset at any time.

The new site provides a guide on how to adjust privacy settings, such as limiting the advertising tracking on the App Store and Apple News.

Business advantage

Apple has also tried to portray itself as more privacy-friendly than firms such as Facebook and Google, which have been embroiled in controversies around the way they make use of user data for advertising sales and other purposes.

Earlier this year, for example, Apple chief executive Tim Cook remarked that his company “wouldn’t be in this situation” after Facebook came under attack for providing data to political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

Critics have pointed out that although Apple’s business model differs from those of Google and Facebook, it has always allowed such companies to carry out their businesses on its platforms, including the iPhone.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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