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By | Richard Chirgwin 18th September 2014 05:31

Apple's Cook: We have never allowed g-men access to Apple servers

Only hackers can see your nude selfies, not feds

Apple has made some amendments to its privacy policy, and has used the occasion to run an open letter from CEO Tim Cook explaining the changes.

Taking a swipe at Google and others, Cook tells the world that since Apple's income is products, not profiles, “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.”

The point of Apple's data collection, Cook says, is solely product improvement – except in the small case of iAd, and that service “doesn’t get data from Health and Home Kit, Maps, Siri, iMessage, your call history, or any iCloud service like Contacts or Mail, and you can always just opt out altogether.”

His strongest words come in response to the ongoing rolling circus of leaks about NSA activities: “we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will.”

As for the policy itself, Apple says it's “added language to cover Spotlight Suggestions, Analytics, Family Sharing, and Apple IDs for users under the age of 13 (or equivalent age in their countries). And we added a description of technologies used by location-based services including GPS, Bluetooth, IP address, and crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower locations.”

Which means what, exactly?

Actually, the changes are mostly trivial. Courtesy the Wayback Machine, El Reg compared today's Apple privacy policy with a Wayback crawl from September 2013. For example, the definition of “personal information” was edited to remove the word “uniquely” from in front of “identify or contact a single person”.

The privacy policy makes it clear that users are no longer required to provide personal information, except that without it, some products or services might not work.

“Uses of personal information” has been expanded to explain that Apple might use your data “for loss prevention and anti-fraud purposes”, and the defunct MobileMe service has been removed from the list of Websites that might collect your data.

The policy now explains advertising opt-outs in iOS6 (the new “Limit Tracking” feature), and now skips its advice that customers use SSL-supporting browsers since that's redundant when all browsers support SSL.

As for explaining location-based services, as the header to the policy states, there isn't a single word changed since September 2013. ®

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