clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Tim Cook talks up Apple's security standards in wake of recent scrutiny

New, 79 comments

Apple's CEO reiterates that the company's not interested in your data

After taking to Charlie Rose's program to say that Apple was among the best of its peers at protecting user privacy, Apple's chief executive personally launched a new section of the company's website today that breaks down its various privacy programs and policies. Detailed are things like user privacy policies by country, Apple's security tools, and requests from various governments about user information.

"Your trust means everything to us."

The new site comes just weeks after a security breach on numerous female celebrities that resulted in leaked nude photos. Apple denied that its own iCloud systems were breached as part of that attack. The newly-launched site makes special mention of Apple's security measures in a page that details how privacy is "built-in" to various Apple products, including encryption for photos, documents, and other data.

Apple's security was put under a microscope once again last week with its announcement to offer payment services. Apple Pay, which launches next month, lets users store multiple credit cards in a virtual wallet, and pay using a combination of NFC and its Touch ID fingerprint reader. Apple's said it doesn't plan to store any transaction information as part of the process, though competitors like PayPal have already poked fun at it.

apple pay

Alongside the new privacy site, Cook posted a letter mostly reiterating what he said on Rose's program, the second half of which aired on Monday. That included details that the company was not reading any emails or messages sent through its iMessage service, and that the company did not want to become what Cook referred to as a possible "treasure trove" of information for various governments.

"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," Cook said in his letter. "We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will."

The full letter from Cook below:

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.

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.

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.

One very small part of our business does serve advertisers, and that's iAd. We built an advertising network because some app developers depend on that business model, and we want to support them as well as a free iTunes Radio service. iAd sticks to the same privacy policy that applies to every other Apple product. It doesn't get data from Health and HomeKit, Maps, Siri, iMessage, your call history, or any iCloud service like Contacts or Mail, and you can always just opt out altogether.

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.

Our commitment to protecting your privacy comes from a deep respect for our customers. We know that your trust doesn't come easy. That's why we have and always will work as hard as we can to earn and keep it.