In what is being seen as a response to the infamous Fappening or Celebgate — the "theft" and leak of celebrity nude photos, allegedly stolen via iCloud, Apple introduced a new Privacy section on its website yesterday.
The introduction to it includes a message from Apple CEO Tim Cook, which begins by talking about Apple’s commitment to privacy:
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.
So far so good. But what has taken Apple-watchers by surprise is the directness of the barbs aimed at the likes of Google (and Facebook?) in the short message, as Cook goes on to add:
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.
If the above is general and could be about almost any free internet service, Cook gets more and more specific about Google, which runs the world's biggest online advertising business:
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.
And lest you were left in any doubt, Cook also goes on to tell us how Apple's iAd network does not customise its content based on email, unlike a certain company:
Not to be missed also is the punch line:
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.
Watch this space. Meanwhile, tell us what you think.