Technology & Science

Apple tries to assuage privacy fears, puts focus on security

Apple Inc is making strong efforts to assuage users' fears after taking the heat in the celebrity photo leak scandal that emerged over the Labour Day weekend.

Photos, messages, email, contacts, call history protected by individual’s passcode

The new operating system was first previewed by Apple CEO Tim Cook at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco on June 2. (Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)

Apple Inc is making strong efforts to assuage users' fears after taking the heat in the celebrity photo leak scandal that emerged over the Labour Day weekend.

Apple CEO Tim Cook provided details of how the company handles users' personal information and reassured customers about Apple's commitment toward their privacy, in a letter published on its website.

"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," Cook wrote in the letter.

Apple has never worked with any government agency to give access to its products, services and servers and would never do that in the future, Cook added.

Cook, in his letter, encouraged customers to use the two-step verification process and said it now protects all the data stored in iCloud along with protecting Apple ID account information.

Customer data such as photos, messages, email, contacts and call history is protected by each individual’s passcode on iPhones and iPads running iOS 8

The company is facing some criticism in law enforcement circles for its new security measures. Critical evidence such as a drug dealer’s accounts or child pornography is often held on mobile devices such as smartphones.

The iPhone 6 Plus will run on the iOS 8 operating system, and include features such as a health app that could track a user's sleep patterns. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

However, Apple says that 93 per cent of the requests it receives from law enforcement come in the form of a "device request," where officers are working on behalf of a customer to locate a stolen device.  According to Apple, just seven per cent of the requests it receives are "account requests," where law enforcement is seeking customer account information.

After the leak of racy celebrity photos, cybersecurity experts and mobile developers called out inadequacies in Apple's and, more generally, cloud-services security.

Some security experts faulted Apple for failing to make its devices and software easier to secure through two-factor authentication, which requires a separate verification code after users log in initially.

Cook said users would get updates on privacy at the company at least once a year and about any significant change to its policies.

Last week, Apple unveiled a watch, two larger iPhones and a mobile payments service in an effort to revive the technology company's reputation as a wellspring of innovation

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