Within a span of a few days, two of three giants in the tech industry made changes that could directly affect your privacy; the third tried to clear up "privacy and Windows 10."
Regarding encryption, Apple wrote, "Encryption protects trillions of online transactions every day. Whether you’re shopping or paying a bill, you’re using encryption. It turns your data into indecipherable text that can only be read by the right key." Again, the company said it refuses to add a backdoor to its products, adding, "We can’t unlock your device for anyone because you hold the key — your unique password. We’re committed to using powerful encryption because you should know the data on your device and the information you share with others is protected."
Cook also took a jab at Google’s business model by reiterating that Apple doesn’t build user profiles based on browsing habits or email contents and then sell that data to advertisers. Apple, unlike Google, also handles its map service differently. "Helping you get from Point A to Point B matters a great deal to us, but knowing the history of all your Point A’s and Point B’s doesn’t."
"The most personal technology must also be the most private," Apple said. The company provided tools to manage your privacy. If you dive into it, you can find detailed explanations for how Apple services use your data. Apple claimed, "We believe that privacy ﬁrst requires good security," and provided even more details in a new 60-page iOS Security Guide (pdf).
Microsoft on privacy and Windows 10
It’s unknown if the post will have any impact on the Windows 10 privacy backlash; "trust" may be "a core pillar" of Microsoft’s vision, but it has taken a long time for the company to respond, and not all issues were addressed.
Microsoft also couldn’t resist taking a swing a Google, as Myerson wrote, "Unlike some other platforms, no matter what privacy options you choose, neither Windows 10 nor any other Microsoft software scans the content of your email or other communications, or your files, in order to deliver targeted advertising to you."
Google to use email addresses for ad targeting on YouTube, Gmail, search
Speaking of Google, on Sunday the company announced that users’ email addresses are fair game for advertisers to use for ad targeting.
Google’s Sridhar Ramaswamy, SVP of Ads and Commerce, told advertisers that "Customer Match is a new product designed to help you reach your highest-value customers on Google Search, YouTube, and Gmail -- when it matters most. Customer Match allows you to upload a list of email addresses, which can be matched to signed-in users on Google in a secure and privacy-safe way. From there, you can build campaigns and ads specifically designed to reach your audience."
Put another way, Customer Match means retailers can upload the email address you use when you make a purchase in a store or from a website to Google for the purpose of targeting ads. Companies can also use your email address if you sign up for some kind of reward/loyalty program in a physical store, or if you sign up to receive marketing messages via a company’s app. If you sign into Google using that same email addy, then the retailer can target you with ads while you are using YouTube, Gmail, or Google search.
Google also made Universal App Campaigns available to advertisers and developers in order for them to "connect with app users across Google Search, Google Play, YouTube, and the Google Display Network (GDN)." Ramaswamy gave the following example:
Let’s say you’ve built an adventure game. With Universal App Campaigns, you have unparalleled reach: you can drive installs on YouTube, the platform with 1B+ users who watch hundreds of millions of hours of content everyday. Your ads can also reach specific audiences across 650K apps and 2M+ websites in the GDN. And importantly, Universal App Campaigns tap into intent-rich searches like "adventure games" and "puzzle games" that are happening throughout the day on Google Search and Google Play so your app can be seen when people are looking to download something new.
If any of that sounds a bit familiar, then that’s because it’s very similar to what Facebook already offers advertisers.