In Silicon Valley, two camps have emerged in the tug-of-war between security and convenience. On one side, you have groups like Facebook and Google, who want as much information about you as possible, to personalize their services (and the ads that you are shown). Your Gmail is scanned by Google AI to glean keywords for advertising, and Google Maps will record all of your travels.
With this kind of group, it's basically all or nothing. If you want to use the Google Assistant to sends texts, place calls, or check the weather, you need to at least enable location data, or else she'll give you the silent treatment.
In the other (smaller) camp, we have companies like Apple whose income does not substantially rely on ads. It can make its money on phones, watches, cloud storage, and music streaming, among other things. Siri doesn't need special permissions before she'll talk to you, and Apple Maps doesn't keep a catalog of everywhere you've ever been.
Siri can't be as helpful as the Google Assistant as a result of Apple's deliberate privacy restrictions, but it also means that you keep a lot more of your personal info to yourself. And today, Apple has moved into a new phase with a sizeable information hub dedicated to educating users on how to protect their data in iOS and MacOS, and also what Apple does on its end to shield its customers from external privacy invasion.
First and foremost, Apple touts passcodes, Touch ID, and Face ID to lock your phone's screen. To date, Apple's lockscreen has been one of the toughest for hackers to get past, to the point where the FBI lobbied the company to help it get around its own security. (Apple declined the request.) You can also enable a feature that automatically wipes the personal data on your phone if your chosen lock mechanism is used incorrectly ten times in a row.
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There have also been reports of users being forced by police to unlock their iPhones with Face ID (because courts have determined that biometric information is not protected in the Constitution as a "place of knowledge"), but you can temporarily disable Face ID by squeezing two buttons at once. Turning your iPhone off will also require you to enter a passcode to get back in, rather than being able to use Face ID or Touch ID right away.
Apple also emphasizes on its new microsite that Siri is pretty locked-down compared to the Google Assistant: "Whether you're taking a photo, asking Siri a question, or getting directions, you can do it knowing that Apple doesn't gather your personal information to sell to advertisers or other organizations."
There's a whole host of other pages on the microsite, which you can view by scrolling to the bottom of the landing page. Apple will teach you about things like two-factor authentication to protect your Apple ID, differential privacy, how it responds to different law enforcement requests, and even how you can delete your Apple ID via the company's online Data & Privacy tool.
- Apple has launched a mini website dedicated to educating iOS and Mac users about their privacy -- how to protect it, and what Apple does to help shield them from prying eyes.
- The bottom of the main page contains the links to the other sections of the mini site.
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