iOS 8 privacy upgrade means Apple can’t unlock your phone for cops

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iOS 8 is Apple's most privacy-conscious mobile OS yet.
iOS 8 is Apple's most privacy-conscious mobile OS yet.

Updated security measures in iOS 8 make it impossible for Apple to give your data to the cops — even if the company wanted to.

Previously Apple could access a significant amount of data on any iOS device, which it would do if law enforcement approached the company with a seized device and a valid search warrant. Apple’s stronger encryption and updated privacy policy now mean it can no longer pull data from devices that have the latest version of the mobile OS installed.

“On devices running iOS 8, your personal data such as photos, messages (including attachments), email, contacts, call history, iTunes content, notes, and reminders is placed under the protection of your passcode,” Apple notes on its website. “Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data. So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”

Using privacy to differentiate itself from Google is a great move for Apple, and one that cannot easily be copied by its marketplace rivals, many of whom rely on the mining and monetizing of user data as their primary source of revenue.

Tim Cook has been very outspoken about this subject lately — telling Charlie Rose that “you’re not our product” as part of his recent interview, describing Apple’s hardware-based sales that doesn’t rely on selling ads.

“Our business model is very straightforward,” Cook wrote in an open letter also published on Wednesday. “We sell great products. 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. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple.”

In iOS 8, Apple has additionally made it easier to use private search engine DuckDuckGo, which can be accessed through Settings –> Safari –> Search Engine –> DuckDuckGo.

“It’s great to see Apple championing privacy by adding our anonymous search option to protect Safari’s users,” DuckDuckGo founder Gabriel Weinberg recently told Fast Company.

Other security-minded changes include greater levels of file encryption.

Source: Arstechnica