On Digital Trends: "Differential Privacy" & Apple

One of the prices of using free services from companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple is that these companies often collect your data. Usually, this information is used to improve the services the company offers but, understandably, many people are skeptical about having their data mined. Since standing up to the FBI regarding security, Apple has been making changes to reflect its privacy-first mindset. Using a method called "differential privacy" with iOS10, Apple is essentially limiting the amount of information they can gather, as well as keeping the information they do gather anonymous. Differential privacy is a mathematical method of data gathering, which collects information on a large group of people while learning as little as possible about the individuals in that group. According to Apple, “In iOS 10, this technology will help improve QuickType and emoji suggestions, Spotlight deep link suggestions, and Lookup Hints in Notes.” Apple services like iMessage, HomeKit, and FaceTime use end-to-end encryption to protection your data, meaning criminals, law enforcement, and even Apple itself can't access that info. With iOS10, users can opt-in to having data collected using differential privacy, and this is the key difference between Apple and some other data collecting companies; users are given the option to consent, or decline, data collection. Additionally, with differential privacy, your data is randomized and then securely sent to Apple in bulk, along with other user data. This allows them to gather information on popular trends about what people like, want, and do, without needing to attach that data to a specific individual. Apple, hackers, and law enforcement won’t be able to tell who any singular piece of data is coming from, or even if a specific user is part of the data set. How neat is that?   For more information, check out this Digital Trends article.