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Privacy Apple

'I Asked Apple for All My Data. Here's What Was Sent Back' (zdnet.com) 172

"I asked Apple to give me all the data it's collected on me since I first became a customer in 2010," writes the security editor for ZDNet, "with the purchase of my first iPhone." That was nearly a decade ago. As most tech companies have grown in size, they began collecting more and more data on users and customers -- even on non-users and non-customers... Apple took a little over a week to send me all the data it's collected on me, amounting to almost two dozen Excel spreadsheets at just 5MB in total -- roughly the equivalent of a high-quality photo snapped on my iPhone. Facebook, Google, and Twitter all took a few minutes to an hour to send me all the data they store on me -- ranging from a few hundred megabytes to a couple of gigabytes in size...

The zip file contained mostly Excel spreadsheets, packed with information that Apple stores about me. None of the files contained content information -- like text messages and photos -- but they do contain metadata, like when and who I messaged or called on FaceTime. Apple says that any data information it collects on you is yours to have if you want it, but as of yet, it doesn't turn over your content which is largely stored on your slew of Apple devices. That's set to change later this year... And, of the data it collects to power Siri, Maps, and News, it does so anonymously -- Apple can't attribute that data to the device owner... One spreadsheet -- handily -- contained explanations for all the data fields, which we've uploaded here...

[T]here's really not much to it. As insightful as it was, Apple's treasure trove of my personal data is a drop in the ocean to what social networks or search giants have on me, because Apple is primarily a hardware maker and not ad-driven, like Facebook and Google, which use your data to pitch you ads.

CNET explains how to request your own data from Apple.
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'I Asked Apple for All My Data. Here's What Was Sent Back'

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  • Dang... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Freischutz ( 4776131 ) on Saturday May 19, 2018 @11:43AM (#56638680)

    There's really not much to it. As insightful as it was, Apple's treasure trove of my personal data is a drop in the ocean to what social networks or search giants have on me, because Apple is primarily a hardware maker and not ad-driven, like Facebook and Google, which use your data to pitch you ads.

    Dang... I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of Apple hating conspiracy theorists suddenly cried out in righteous fury and fired up their flamethrowers..

    • by lazarus ( 2879 ) on Saturday May 19, 2018 @12:32PM (#56638820) Homepage Journal

      I tried to explain this to a friend recently. I believe that Apple tries its best to protect my privacy because its business model is selling devices. That is not Google's business model. If you think that you can protect your privacy while doing business with a company who's model is sell your data then you're dreaming.

      I wish there was a good, third, open source alternative. Maybe Librem [puri.sm] will see the light of day.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Easier to explain it this way: customers pay money for services. If you aren't paying Google, you aren't Google's customer. People that pay Google for your info are - and your information is Google's product.

        Google is not a charity, running all those data centers and doing all that android development for charity.

      • who's model is sell your data

        It's possible that I am wrong about this, but I think that you have Google's business model back to front.

        I think Google guards the data it holds on people very carefully. It doesn't sell that data. Instead, it uses that data to place ads on behalf of the ad buyers. In other words, it sells access to relevant eyeballs. It's possible that it also uses the information it has to manipulate people into buying products, reading websites, viewing more ads, etc..

        I don't think that you

        • You are correct, that is what I meant, but you have put it much better. The bottom line is that their model requires that they collect as much data on you as possible and then profile you to advertisers.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Why would Google sell your data? Aside from being illegal where I live, it would be giving away a major source of revenue.

        Their business model isn't selling your data. It's selling ad impressions guided by that data. Ensuring your privacy is a key part of the model, because the moment that data leaks out its value is destroyed and users will no longer trust them with it.

        • Why would Google sell your data?

          They don't need to sell all of it, they simply give out enough that their customers have enough to rob you blind (figuratively). Like IP addresses and Cookies, as well as the target information. Which the advertisers can cross-corellate with similar data from other ad-networks.

    • Re:Dang... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Saturday May 19, 2018 @01:22PM (#56638996)
      The problem isn't data collection per se. It's retention. If you want to put your entire life history on Facebook, it's not a problem as long as Facebook will delete it all if you change your mind and decide you no longer wish to share it with them. Facebook refuses to do that, and will hang on to your old data (apparently forever), which makes them by far the worst transgressor. (They used to also make it near-impossible to get a copy of all your data, in case you wanted to leave but didn't want to lose everything. But apparently they've addressed that recently.)

      Google at least makes it easy for you to get a copy of your data should you wish to leave or change services, and to delete data they've collected on you from their servers [google.com].

      I read TFA a few days ago when it first came out. What's notably lacking is that this isn't a way to delete your data from Apple's servers. Just a way for you to request a copy.
      • I think that in addition to being willing to delete, they have to be willing to seriously protect it so it doesnâ(TM)t end up in the hands of researchers who can sell it to political or other organizations.
      • by antdude ( 79039 )

        I don't trust any companies. I am sure they have backups of your datas even if you ask them to delete them. :(

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Can confirm. I called Apple years ago to get my account deleted. You couldn't do it online back then, don't know if you can now. Anyways, after 20.minutes of warnings and legal agreements and "are you sure?" they deleted it...

        Except that they said I could never sign up with the same email address again, so clearly they didn't delete everything.

        Oh, but today the GDPR comes into effect, so I might contact them again.

        • Can confirm. I called Apple years ago to get my account deleted. You couldn't do it online back then, don't know if you can now. Anyways, after 20.minutes of warnings and legal agreements and "are you sure?" they deleted it...

          Except that they said I could never sign up with the same email address again, so clearly they didn't delete everything.

          Errm, yeah, either they clearly didn't delete everything, or they try hard to avoid that anybody (including you) can just open an account under a name that already had been used i the past, and then receive messages send now intended for that old account.

  • by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Saturday May 19, 2018 @11:47AM (#56638700) Journal

    [T]here's really not much to it. As insightful as it was, Apple's treasure trove of my personal data is a drop in the ocean to what social networks or search giants have on me, because Apple is primarily a hardware maker and not ad-driven, like Facebook and Google, which use your data to pitch you ads.

    You can thank the fact that iAds failed miserably (because Facebook and Google already locked-down the ad sector) or they'd have even more information on you, given the lock-in/walled-garden approach they have.

    • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Saturday May 19, 2018 @12:59PM (#56638912)

      You can thank the fact that iAds failed miserably (because Facebook and Google already locked-down the ad sector)

      You are assuming that is why iAds failed. The whole point of iAds was that Apple would not collect data the way other advertisers were - so is it any wonder iAds did not gain traction when the advertisers could not acquire a huge amount of demographic data on you?

      Apple has never changed it's approach on privacy, not even for advertising. Even if iAds had worked they still would have nothing more on people than they do today.

      • Apple has never changed it's approach on privacy

        Really? Because it seems we've covered changes in Apple's privacy policy on a yearly basis.

        • The changes have just been made to re-assure people what they are not collecting, as it was brought to light what Google has been collecting all along... so what the hell is your point here?

          As stated, they've never been collecting the kind of data Google has been collecting since day one.

          Yet another pointless attempt from an Apple Hater to make Apple look bad when they are the only company who actually gives a damn about privacy. How many others have you hurt in your attempts to steer other people away fro

          • The changes have just been made

            So there have been changes.

            to re-assure people what they are not collecting

            You know an easy way to assure people? Not have a terms of service saying we will harvest your soul in the first place. There's no arguing that Apple's policy especially right now is a cut above the rest, but if you believe that their practice has been consistently this way then I have a bridge to sell you.

            Yet another pointless attempt from an Apple Hater

            It's all about perspective fanboi.

      • Ahh, protection of data from Apple! I guess that's why they now allow Google to sift through all your iMessages [macrumors.com], because they value your protection and privacy!
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        The whole point of Google's ads is that advertisers can't gather information on you. That separation of the company holding the personal/demographic data and the advertiser is the whole point of their model.

        • The whole point of Google's ads is that advertisers can't gather information on you. That separation of the company holding the personal/demographic data and the advertiser is the whole point of their model.

          Yeah, you just proved you are a gullible fool. See, Google doesn't have to sell me that info, your claims about Google prove that.

    • [T]here's really not much to it. As insightful as it was, Apple's treasure trove of my personal data is a drop in the ocean to what social networks or search giants have on me, because Apple is primarily a hardware maker and not ad-driven, like Facebook and Google, which use your data to pitch you ads.

      You can thank the fact that iAds failed miserably (because Facebook and Google already locked-down the ad sector) or they'd have even more information on you, given the lock-in/walled-garden approach they have.

      iAd failed because Apple didn't give out "enough" personal information, you deceptive little shitheel. https://www.computerworld.com/article/2475874/data-privacy/apple-values-your-privacy--ads-firms-complain.html [computerworld.com]

  • Reminds me ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Saturday May 19, 2018 @12:09PM (#56638758)

    .. of the scene in Das Leben der Anderen [wikipedia.org] where Dreyman goes to the Stasi headquarters to view all the files they had on him. They bring out hand trucks with boxes full of paper files.

    Isn't technology wonderful? Now they can just hand you a thumb drive.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    > The zip file contained mostly Excel spreadsheets,

    Looking at the screenshots, one can see a bunch of .csv files. Text files where data is comma separated. That's hardly an excel spreadsheet, though one can use excel to look at those.

    • by Cederic ( 9623 )

      More worrying is that ZDNet's security editor apparently can't tell the difference.

      Forgive me if I harbour doubts regarding their security credentials too.

  • Yah, so I'm sure there is a ton of info being stored on social media and as an Apple customer, I'll be curious to see what they have on me as I don't use Siri or Facetime or any other Apple services. Google, yah, I'm on YouTube but that's it as I don't use Google Search. Time for to find out what's out there--As we all should and work towards pairing down our public footprints.
  • by Xord ( 5060493 )
    This post has given me an idea. Google are now claiming to comply with the EU GDPR regulations, so I can submit a request to them for all the personal data they hold on me and they are required to give it to me. Should be an interesting read. It will be also interesting to see how they define holding my personal data for 'no longer than necessary' and how they justify that.
  • Sent within minutes? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Zorpheus ( 857617 )
    Makes you wonder if they can really make sure that it is not the wrong person requesting all that data.
    • by Xord ( 5060493 )
      It's a good point. The law goes into effect next week, so we will see what checks they do on my identity when I request it.
  • This Slashvertisement brought to you buy Apple.

    Anything else you want to tell us about this wonderful company while you are here?

    • So ..please tell us who we can trust and buy from? and remember no matter WHO you say is the least evil, you will be plugging their product/products...And question how much you are getting payed to plug them..
      • by dk20 ( 914954 )

        "u will be plugging their product/products"

        What am i plugging? i just think this reads like one of those "paid advertisements" you sometimes find in newspapers. Sort of like an actual story, but clearly placed as an ad.. but iwhtout the "paid advertisement" banner.

        FWIW, I have an iphone SE and android Galaxy S8.. both have pro's and cons and both are from for-profit companies...

  • I am more surprised at the lack of data that Apple has collected from the author of the article. Apple may care more about your privacy than the other companies because it could certainly choose to scrape more data from your service usage and sell it as an additional source of revenue. A 1/2 dozen spreadsheets worth of data is probably not all of that useful beyond debugging and software and hardware improvements.
  • âoeNone of the files contained content information -- like text messages and photos â Well, if I remember well, last time I changed an iphone, after the setup process it had my past conversations, which i thought was neat, yet it also means that Apple does store the data, perhaps in a way that can only be decrypted using your password.
    I write âoeif I remember wellâ since I may be confusing with icloud. It is definitely the case, and desirably so of course as it is its reason of existe

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