Apple CEO Tim Cook sent out a letter addressing privacy concerns last night, following the company's release of iOS 8, its latest mobile operating system, and in advance of the public launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus tomorrow. The letter also follows a security breach, which Tim Cook blamed on phishing in a recent PBS interview, in which hackers were able to obtain private photos stored in iCloud.
"At Apple, your trust means everything to us," the letter begins. "That's why we respect your privacy and protect it with strong encryption, plus strict policies that govern how all data is handled." Cook ensures customers that Apple is deeply committing to fighting for customer privacy and that, in the cases Apple does ask for personal data, it's only to "provide you with a better user experience."
The letter is joined by a new white paper on Apple's security principles that outlines Apple's fight to keep any data it does have out of the reach of governments around the world, and Cook reiterates that Apple has never provided a back door to any government and that Apple will never provide government access to its servers.
"We don't build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers," Cook said, taking a clear dig at Google. "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." Cook closes by saying that he and Apple knows customer trust "doesn't come easy" and that Apple will "work as hard as hard as we can to earn and keep it."
The full letter from Tim Cook can be found below.
A message from Tim Cook about Apple's commitment to your 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.
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.