Apple Products and Privacy

Recently, Apple created a new section to their website dedicated to privacy. The main page of this site is a message from Tim Cook explaining how Apple takes privacy very seriously. Tim Cook also explains that the purpose of this new privacy website is to (in a very simple and straightforward way) explain Apple's privacy policy and any changes that are made to it. Apple will update this website at least once a year or every time there is a change to how Apple deals with protecting you and your data. The 4 sections of the website are:

  • Privacy Built-in: This page shows how individual Apple products, services and applications are designed with your privacy in mind.
  • Manage Your Privacy: Goes through all the tools that Apple puts in your hands that you can use to help manage and protect your own privacy.
  • Government Information Requests: Explains Apple's policy with respect to requests from the Government for access to Apple data/servers. Bottom line, Apple has never allowed government access to its servers and they never will.
  • Our Privacy Policy: This page explains the recent changes to Apple's privacy policy right up front. Then the rest of the page contains Apple's actual privacy policy written in normal English (not "legaleze").

With all the negative things in the news lately about credit card data being stolen from various businesses and some companies making major moves to use data you have provided them to make money via advertising this move by Apple is important to take note of. Even if you don't want to take Apple's word for it all you have to do is follow the money. Apple makes it's money off of the hardware it sells, so Apple doesn't have to profit off of your personal information. It's simply not in their business plan.

So take a few minutes to check out Apple's new privacy site and rest assured that when you buy a product or service from Apple, know that Apple isn't looking for ways to ferret away and profit from your personal information. Apple already made its money the second you bought the product or service.

Why You Should Use Apple Pay

As you have probably heard by now, Apple's new mobile payment system Apple Pay has gone live. What does this mean for you and why should you care?

Apple Pay isn't just a gimmick. This payment system has a chance to revolutionize the the way we pay for things. There are two aspects of Apple Pay that make it so important:

  • Privacy: When you pay with Apple Pay the merchant no longer gets any personal information about you. No name, no address, no bank account number or credit card number. Nothing. They get a temporary credit card number and the name of the bank you are using and that's it.
  • Security: Since all the merchant is getting is a one time use temporary credit card number there is no longer any concern about how well that merchant protects its customer data. They no longer have any data about you. The number you gave them is worthless the second you walk away from the transaction and you have given them no personal identifying information. No more canceling your credit or debit card because a merchant's system was hacked and millions of credit card numbers were compromised. With Apple Pay the only people that have your actual credit card number is you and your bank...the way it should be.

I say that Apple Pay has the chance to revolutionize the way we pay for things. It's only a chance because its almost too good to be true. Large scale merchants are either really excited about Apple Pay or they are running scared, scared because they no longer get your personal information when you make a purchase. Why does this matter? Because they use that personal information to turn around and make more money by either using it to sell advertising or by using it to contact you in some way you can spend more money with them. Already there are examples of [companies disabling NFC payments so Apple Pay can't be used][fire]. Why are they doing this? Because some companies are coming up with their own secure mobile payment system, a system that allows them to get personal information about you with the transaction. Your personal information is money to them and they don't want to give that up. The real question is...are you willing to give it to them for free? Maybe you are. Maybe that merchant is one that you want to hear from and get special promotions and deals from, but that should be your choice.

So, will Apple Pay take hold? It will take time to really ramp up. Right now it only works with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, with the banks listed below...

and with an ever growing list of retailers...

Hopefully Apple can make Apple Pay a standard before other alternative systems that banks and retailers are developing that transmit your personal data to retailers get a foothold. Other mobile payment systems will come along (and some already exist) and they will use a similar approach where only a temporary credit card number is they are just as secure as Apple Pay. The difference between them and Apple Pay is that:

  • Apple Pay only requires you to touch your finger the Touch ID button on your phone. No special apps specific to that retailer and no taking pictures of QR codes (yes there is actually a concept out there involving QR codes)
  • Apple Pay transmits ZERO personal information about you in the transaction

So how do you setup Apple Pay? It took me all of about 60 seconds this morning once I updated my iPhone 6 to iOS 8.1. You simply go into the passbook app and add a card (in this case a credit card to use with Apple Pay). Follow the instructions from there and within seconds you are setup to use Apple Pay. TUAW has a great step by step article on how to set it up. Once you have it setup, just look for the following symbols at one of the retailers listed above and start paying with Apple Pay!

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