Apple this year is marking Data Privacy Week by working to educate iPhone users about the privacy protection tools they already have in hand, a move that has implications across any business that wants to maintain privacy.
Data protection is the bedrock of business
Data Privacy Week grew out of the Jan. 28, 2007 first convention on data protection. Today, it’s a global event that aims to raise awareness around privacy and data protection.
These are values Apple has made no secret saying that it shares. Apple CEO Tim Cook has made frequent public statements that shed light on the importance of privacy, and seemingly everyone at the company insists “privacy is a fundamental human right.”
It’s not just about personal protection. It’s also about placing value in data, respect for data, and ensuring data is well maintained.
Even the most sophisticated data-driven business will make poor decisions if the information it uses to build those decisions is flawed.
Just what is Apple doing?
- First, Apple has published an amusing short film that aims to explain how privacy related data is gathered and abused and how you can use an iPhone to protect yourself.
- Second, it announced a global series of half-hour “Taking Charge of Your Privacy on iPhone,” sessions that will be available at 522 Apple Stores worldwide during which the company will explain how to use some of the privacy protections it provides, including App Tracking Transparency.
- Third, the company is in the process of rolling out iOS 16.3, which gives iCloud users worldwide a new way to encrypt the data they store on Apple’s service to hide that information from prying eyes.
To support the campaign, Apple has added resources to the front page of its website and continues to push the message across all its channels, including short clips to explain some of the privacy protection tools it provides.
“At Apple, we’re focused on designing devices, features, and services that keep users in control of their personal data,” said Erik Neuenschwander, Apple’s director of user privacy. “Over the years, we’ve integrated powerful privacy controls into our operating systems. This film and our new Today at Apple sessions will show users how they can take advantage of some of the features we offer and understand how privacy is at the center of everything we do.”
What problem does this solve?
Apple has privacy protection baked into all its products.
The main challenge, at least for some consumer users and likely business employees, is that not everyone knows how to use them fully. It’s not at all rare for someone to come across a privacy-protecting feature on an Apple device only to choose not to use it because they’re unsure of the implications of doing so.
Apple clearly hopes that by offering short lessons on how users can protect themselves it can also help empower them with the tools they need to make better choices.
For and against Apple’s moves
The reactions Apple sees when it comes to privacy protection tell their own story. For example, we’ve already heard some of the world’s biggest companies argue that App Tracking Transparency threatens the interests of small business
Most recently, the Interactive Advertising Bureau said it was ready to go to war against Apple over the feature, accusing the company of “cynicism.” Those protagonists believe Apple is guilty of double standards because it lets users decide whether to allow advertisers or Apple to track or “personalize” services for them.
Privacy advocates tell a different story. In a statement, the Open Rights Group today welcomed Apple’s Advanced Data Protection in iCloud. Jim Killock, executive director of the group, said: “We are pleased that Apple is rolling out globally end-to-end encryption for iCloud backup-data, notes, and photos. We look forward to UK customers gaining the same benefits.
“We hope other companies will look to rollout similar services that prevent consumers from being victims of scams, revenge porn and blackmail attempts,” he said. “Our government needs to support these improvements wholeheartedly.”
For privacy protection, the best form of personal data is the information that remains private, rather than public.
This applies to business, of course
The fight for privacy is in the interests of almost every business. After all, not every enterprise seeks to exploit personal information for profit — and even among those that do, there is growing understanding of the value of building informed consent.
There’s a huge difference between a trusted entity sending you a product marketing email and a company you have no relationship with jumping inside your news feed.
But privacy isn’t solely a consumer-facing need. In a global market characterized by digital insecurity, ransomware, and increasingly sophisticated nation-state exploits reaching lower echelon criminal gangs, privacy is a protection firms need to extend across their enterprises.
To protect business systems, employee digital identity must be protected lest they become unwitting targets for sophisticated phishing attacks against the company. Information about what your workers do and how they think in their home life can conceivably be weaponized to help bad actors attack your business.
With this in mind, privacy becomes a second arm to security and both become increasingly important. And in this context, educational initiatives such as this one from Apple should be extended across every fleet.
At the very least, it makes sense for iPhone users in any business to review some of the more basic privacy protections Apple provides.
Privacy tips you need to know
Apple is focusing on specific useful topics around privacy on its iPhone. Among these, visitors to an in-store privacy session will learn about such tools as these five suggestions.
Control who knows where you are
You can control when and how apps access your location to prevent them sharing location data with anyone you don’t want to share it with. Open Settings>Privacy & Security>Location Services, where you can set each app to Never, Ask Next Time Or When I Share, While Using the App.
Don’t let email marketers know too much about you
Mail protection hides your IP address so senders cannot see the rest of your online activity. It also hides exact location and prevents senders from seeing whether you’ve opened an email. You can set this in Settings>Mail>Privacy Protection.
No one needs to be tracked by strangers
Some apps track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites. Shut them down in Settings>Privacy & Security>Tracking. You can, of course, permit tracking for any apps you need or trust.
Get out of abusive relationships
Designed to help vulnerable people attempting to escape abusive relationships, the Safety Check tool lets you stop sharing information and control what is shared with individual people and apps. (The people or apps you stop sharing with are not notified.) This is also in Privacy & Security where it is marked as Safety Check.
How to use Passkeys on iPhone
The all-new Passkeys tool empowers users with the ability to access websites and services without requiring a username and password to prove who you are. This works using Touch or Face ID to verify you and a unique digital key that only works on the site or app it was created for. To save a passkey to your iPhone and iCloud Keychain, do one of the following:
- For a new account: On the account sign-up screen, enter an account name.
- For an existing account: Sign in with your password, then go to the account management screen.
- When you see the option to save a passkey for the account, tap Continue.
Your passkey is saved.
You might also want to take a look this short iOS Security Guide.
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