Apple’s cutting-edge ‘differential privacy’ is opt-in

Apple “announced at last week’s developer conference that, starting with iOS 10, it will collect a range of new information as it seeks to make Siri and the iPhone better at predicting the information its owner might want at a given time,” Ina Fried reports for Recode. “Apple is looking to thread a fine needle, gaining access to the data it needs to make its servers smarter while also protecting user privacy. It’s doing so by employing a concept known as differential privacy.”

Here are a few things we’ve clarified over the past few days.
1. Differential data is making its debut with iOS 10 and Apple says it has not yet been collecting such data.
2. The decision to allow Apple use of data will be up to the user and require their opt-in consent.
3. Apple says it is not using iOS users’ cloud-stored photos to power the image recognition features in iOS 10, instead relying on other data sets to train its algorithms. (Apple hasn’t said what data it is using for that, other than to make clear it is not using its users photos.)

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Obviously, Apple is smartly following the founder’s advice and letting users decide, upfront, how much privacy they’ll cede in return for more functionality.

We take privacy extremely seriously. As an example we worry a lot about locations in phones. We worry that some 14 year old is gonna get stalked or something terrible is going to happen because of our phone…Privacy means people know what they’re signing up for. In plain English. And repeatedly. That’s what it means. I’m an optimist. I believe people are smart, I think some people want to share more data than other people do. Ask them. Ask them every time. — Steve Jobs

Apple’s cutting-edge ‘differential privacy’ offers unique option for technology users – June 20, 2016
Apple’s use of cutting-edge tech will peek at user habits without violating privacy – June 16, 2016
Apple unveils iOS 10, the mother of all iOS releases – June 13, 2016
Apple previews major update with macOS Sierra – June 13, 2016


  1. “differential privacy” is Newspeak like the “Patriot Act.”

    any respect I had for Tim Cook for defending the Fourth Amendment with his adamant rejection of government demands to end encryption is gone.

    Apple is gone. Steve would have told the NSA to jump up and kiss his äss.

            1. Agreed — but not because of the muttering crowd of torch-wielders, but because of a quiet palace coup instigated by the retail contingent (led by Angela) to replace the manufacturing contingent (led by Tim) and upgrade the company philosophy to Fashion First. In this new era, along with jewelry extravaganzas and kabuki festivals, there will be plenty of room for niche products, particularly a bleeding-edge workstation to transcend the Mac Pro: behold: Mac the Knife.

            2. Kurt Weill & Bertolt Brecht gave the world timeless parables of the disconsolate and the dissolute like “Whiskey Bar” (nailed by The Doors) and “Mack the Knife” styled by Bobby Darin, the ultimate hipster.

    1. So you admit you once respected Tim Cook for his stand against the DOJ and the FBI. Sorry, I must have missed your proclamation to that effect.

      This new development seems to have soured you on his steadfast defence of consumer privacy, but I don’t quite see the disconnect. Is it possible you overlooked a key nuance in the description of the protocol? Nobody, not even Botvinnik, won every game outright, but the best players stored the details of each clash for future encounters, giving them an experiential and strategic edge. Either that, or Cook caved for no discernable reason. I prefer the strategic edge theory. Jobs didn’t grok Chess, but Cook does.

        1. Oh, was that me? I suppose then that my mock indignation was misplaced. Still, it was fun to do it and please, I’m not all that old after all. Fifty is the new 30. Or so they say.

            1. unquestionably the EU banking cartel will make the Brits suffer financially, but the courage of their vote on the 23rd will inspire like minded citizens of France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece. I have never expected the citizens of Germany’s Fourth Reich to awaken.

              “And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.”


            2. Insightful. I see the banks already pulling out their knives, seriously interested in isolating the UK. But I don’t personally understand what the full ramifications will be. Personally, I like your Steinbeck quote. It’s a shame when it comes to the point of repression. For me, that’s the failure point and what follows ‘screams’ of failed leadership within the various capitalist businesses. I have no hesitation in calling anyone or any system that it totalitarian a FAILed and FOOLish. Responsible capitalism works. But it requires responsible people. Clearly, it’s hard to find responsible people in our human world. I suppose one reason I like Steve Jobs, despite his personal fumblings, is that he took responsibility to a rare extent for the results of his work. In surprising ways, he taught our modern world about responsible capitalism. Obviously, there are plenty of bizTards determined to be irresponsible if only for their obsession with their imagined games.

              Enough philosophical noodling for this locale.

    2. “differential privacy” is Newspeak like the “Patriot Act.”

      NO it’s not. Read the entire article. I point out one critical paragraph below in the comments that blows your assertion the hell. Sorry. 💣💥

          1. you know I have great admiration for your words you have posted through the years here on MDN. Throughout those posts one consistent string rings true to me: that there is absolutely no difference between Republicans and Democrats since George Bush I.

            There is a difference with Trump, I hope you join us for our own Brexit, to cast off the shackles of the globalist agenda whose goal is the continue enslavement of the Jeffersonian spirit.

            This is no hyperbole, this election is as important as 1860.

            1. My favorite Lincoln riposte:

              A politcal adversary called him two-faced, he replied, “If I were two-faced, do you think I’d be wearing this one?”

              But the best of all was Robert Kennedy’s nickname for Lyndon and Ladybird Johnson:

              “Colonel Cornpone & Little Pork Chop.”

              that’ll never be topped in my lifetime.

            2. More pertinent to the business at hand, Lincoln waved off his stuffy advisors’ complaints of Ulysses S. Grant’s fondness for the bottle by comparing Grant’s decisive military victories to the ineptitude of McClellan, Pope, and the rest. “What brand does he drink? I’d like to send a barrel to the other Generals.”

            3. You and I have good agreement regarding the rubbish going on in the USA/world. But Trump? Some of his goals are fine, but I have no faith in him as a leader. Dictator, maybe. Leader? No.

  2. Critical point, as expressed in the source article:

    Apple will also continue to do a lot of its predictive work on the device, something it started with the proactive features in iOS 9. This work doesn’t tap the cloud for analysis, nor is the data shared using differential privacy.

    IOW: An on-device Siri database specific to the user. It’s not going over the Internet for the FBI to intercept. It’s not going to Apple for marketing abuse. I like that.

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