Differential Privacy in iOS 10 to be Opt-In

Apple appears to be going above and beyond with its differential privacy initiative. The company has an understandable interest in knowing what people think. It helps them help Siri anticipate what people will think or ask before those people realize it themselves. At the same time, Apple has this thing about not wanting too much information about its customers. Thus was born Apple’s Differential Privacy plan, announced a couple of weeks ago at WWDC and defined in one article as a ‘statistical method designed to reap useful intel from big piles of data or protecting personally identifying information therein’.

Put a different way, Apple wants to know about users in aggregate but not specific individual users. But they still want the users’ permission – specific individual users’.

Recode says that data collection under differential privacy in iOS 10 will be opt-in. The article lists three things learnt since WWDC about the initiative: (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.

Even with the self-imposed tunnel vision, Apple is not looking at nearly as much data as other companies might – at least not right away. According to Recode:

Apple says that differential privacy will initially be limited to four specific use cases: New words that users add to their local dictionaries, emojis typed by the user (so that Apple can suggest emoji replacements), deep links used inside apps (provided they are marked for public indexing) and lookup hints within notes.

Source : Recode