In addition to all the great features, there’s another reason for users to upgrade to iOS 8: Apple can’t hand their data over to the NSA, or any other government agency.
That’s one of the key messages from Apple’s new privacy page, which the company launched today alongside the latest update to its mobile operating system. In a section about its compliance with government data requests, the company says that it’s “not technically feasible” for the company to hand over personal data, including photos, call records and notes, from devices running iOS 8.
According to Apple, that information is secured with a device’s passcode, and the company doesn’t hold the key to it. That doesn’t mean that a law enforcement agency can’t get a hold of the data through other means (like legally compelling a suspect to unlock their phone), but it does mean that they can’t get it from Apple.
The information comes alongside a bunch of other details about securing iOS devices and Macs, including suggestions to improve password security, change security questions and enable two-factor authentication for iCloud. Those are particularly important in part because Apple enabled new security measures for those people who enable two-factor authentication.
That’s all preceded by a letter from Apple CEO Tim Cook, saying that the company is committed to protecting users’ privacy, and that Apple aims to make the best products possible, and doesn’t want to sell its users’ data to advertisers, unlike its competitors.
All of that comes after nude photographs of celebrities were released onto the internet late last month. Some of those images were taken from iCloud accounts (most likely from iOS device backups), and Apple has faced harsh criticism for its cloud service’s role in the scandal.
Cook’s letter follows 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.
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.