However, engineers and others engaged in the design and development of Apple products claim that Apple’s emphasis on privacy comes at a price.
Privacy guardians who are too young and inexperienced make it hard for product development teams to provide a variety of tailored features or to entirely rule out certain ideas due to their lack of access to user data.
Apple’s decision to gather as little data as possible and to have strict internal controls over how that data might be used is not unexpected. If you’re a firm, for example, that uses consumer data, you’ll need the approval of three “privacy czars” to do so.
However, The Information’s report on the issues faced by the company’s engineers is worth a read.
Individualized services offered by Apple applications might suffer greatly as a result of this. Consider the contrast between Apple TV+ and Netflix.
Look at Apple TV+. The paid video-streaming service, unlike its bigger rivals, doesn’t collect demographic info about customers or a history of what they have watched, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation at Apple. That means Apple TV+ employees can’t analyze how customers move from one piece of content to another, making it next to impossible to recommend more videos to them based on their preferences—a contrast to Netflix, Disney and other streaming services, which use such data to get customers to watch more videos.
This seems to be done in a manner that prevents Apple from having access to the data.)
The company’s privacy regulations necessitate the elimination of certain concepts. Even though Siri queries are analyzed by Apple to enhance their effectiveness, your Siri voice profile is not tied to an Apple ID.
In 2019, employees explored whether a customer could use Siri to purchase apps and other online services by using their voice, similar to how customers of Amazon buy products using its voice assistant, Alexa, according to a person with direct knowledge of the project. The effort stalled in part because of strict privacy rules that prevented Siri from tying a person’s Apple ID to their voice request. The Apple media products team in charge of the project couldn’t find an alternative way to reliably authenticate users in order to bill them, this person said.
This allows Apple to utilize aggregated data, which it can do so by using mechanisms like differential privacy (though some experts believe that these precautions aren’t always sufficient for the job).
Additionally, the article explains how Apple obtains anonymized data for research from other parties.
The problem is that new workers at Apple have to adjust to an environment in which they are kept in the dark about how their products are used, and where a junior member of a privacy team may refuse even the most senior manager’s request for data access.