Apple's expanded online policy descriptions explain, for example, how the company balances privacy with the need to track a user's reading activity to deliver personalized news stories and make reading recommendations. The updated site also describes how Apple encrypts health and activity data, both within its Health app and in information backed up onto iCloud storage.
The tech giant has increasingly made privacy and security an essential part of how it markets its products, in particular mobile devices like the iPhone. The company last year began supporting end-to-end encrypted communication by default with the release of its iOS 8 mobile operating system.
Identifiers and Device Numbers
Apple's expanded online privacy details explain how the company handles user data for a wide range of its offerings, including the contactless Apple Pay mobile payments system, iCloud cloud-based information backup, the Siri personal digital assistant, Apple Music, Maps and News.
With News, for example, Apple said it tracks and improves an individual user's reading habits with an anonymous, News-specific identifier rather than that customer's unique Apple ID. Users can reset those identifiers at any time by clearing their histories, and they can also limit ad tracking to stop receiving targeted advertisements on the news they read.
Similarly, transactions using Apple Pay are handled via a unique Device Account Number that enables payments to be made via a user's stored bank card information. The Device Account Number is encrypted and "walled off from your iOS device and Apple Watch, is never stored on Apple Pay servers, and is never backed up to iCloud," according to information on the company's privacy site.
iOS 9 Update Has 'Security at its Core'
Apple's latest mobile OS update, iOS 9, was released earlier this month, and the company plans to launch the latest version of its desktop operating system -- OS X El Capitan -- tomorrow. A new white paper on iOS 9, also unveiled this week, offers further details on an operating system the company said was designed "with security at its core."
The new OS helps prevent apps from accessing a user's personal information without permission," Apple said in the white paper. The Settings feature also enables users to grant or revoke app access to information about their contacts, calendars, social media activity, HealthKit data, photos or motion activity.
Despite several instances of security shortcomings -- as with the 2014 targeted attacks that resulted in the public release of nude photos stolen from female celebrities' iCloud accounts -- Apple has taken an increasingly vocal stance on privacy and security in recent years.
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