Ireland probes Apple’s compliance with strict EU privacy rules

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Fees Apple charges competitors to appear in the App Store are the target of an EU investigation.
EU law sets strict privacy rules, and it’s the job of an Irish commissioner to be sure Apple is following them.
Photo: Pexels

Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner is looking into whether Apple is following all the requirements of the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation privacy law.

The DPC has three investigations going into Apple’s business practices, each covering a different aspect of the GDPR legislation. There are far more ongoing probes into how Facebook handles user privacy.

Apple guns for Facebook with new ‘Sign in with Apple’ privacy feature [Update]

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Sign in with Apple
"Sign in with Apple" is a new privacy feature in iOS 13.
Photo: Alfred Ng

WWDC 2019 bug Update: Apple says “Sign in with Apple” will be mandatory for third-party apps that require sign-ins, according to these new App Store guidelines. That means apps that currently use Facebook or Google to sign in will also have to support “Sign in with Apple.”

“It will be required as an option for users in apps that support third-party sign-in when it is commercially available later this year,” the new guidelines say.

Apple is targeting Facebook with a new privacy feature in iOS 13 that privately logs users into third-party apps and services.

Called “Sign in with Apple,” it aims to replace popular cross-web login services like ones offered by Facebook and Google.

The new privacy feature prevents third-party apps and web services from tracking users via their logins. It creates private, disposable logins for every service or app.

Apple video beards the hairy issue of web privacy

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The Safari web browser won’t let sites track you
The Safari web browser won’t let sites track you, whether you’re a man or a boy.
Photo: Apple

Apple is again using humor to get across a serious message. Its latest video has a young man using his iPhone to answer a personal question, and assures him that he isn’t being tracked while he’s doing so.

Watch it now:

Ads might not taint Apple’s TV service

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Apple TV Close
Expect to binge watch Apple TV shows without commercial interruption.
Photo: Cult of Mac

TV shows and movies on Apple’s soon-to-be-announced streaming service might not be broken up by irritating commercial breaks. A new report indicates content will be either free or paid for entirely by subscription fees.

So you can expect to watch the upcoming shows staring Reese Witherspoon, Jason Momoa or many others without interruption.

Funny Apple video demos why iPhone privacy matters

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Apple: Keep Out, privacy
You keep people out of your bedroom, You should keep them out of your phone too.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s latest video is a humorous take a serious topic. It reminds users of this company’s commitment to privacy with the tagline: “If privacy matters in your life, it should matter to the phone your life is on.”

Watch it now:

iPhone hacking tools sell for as little as $100 on eBay

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Cekkebrite
One of Cellebrite's hacking devices.
Photo: Tryc2/ebay

The Cellebrite hacking tool used by law enforcers for pulling data off locked iPhones costs $6,000 new. However, used units now show up on eBay for as little as $100.

That’s a big discount from the full price. And it seems that Cellebrite, a security firm based in Israel, isn’t too happy about the situation — with very good reason.

Multinational struggle pits Apple against new encryption laws

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GrayKey can bypass iPhone security
Several governments have passed or are working on laws that Apple argues weaken the encyption that protects the privacy of its users.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Australia recently passed a law forcing tech companies to give law enforcement greater access to encrypted messages from users. The U.K. already has a similar law, and India is considering one.

There’s no new legislation in the U.S., but the FBI and other police agencies still want easy access to iPhones and other computers, as well as private conversations.

iOS 12 defeats law enforcement’s GrayKey iPhone unlocker

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GrayKey can bypass iPhone security
GrayKey can still unlock iPhones but can no longer unencrypted their contents.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple has apparently won a victory in preserving the privacy of iPhone users. Previously, even if an iOS device was secured with a password, police could use the GrayKey unlocking tool to access the contents. But that changed with iOS 12. 

This hacking tool reportedly became nearly useless with the release of Apple’s latest operating system.

Feds force suspect to unlock iPhone using Face ID for first time

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VCSEL
No, this isn't the suspect in question!
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

According to a new report, for the first time in the U.S. and possibly elsewhere, law enforcement recently accessed a suspect’s phone by using their face to unlock Face ID.

The incident took place on August 10, when the FBI searched the house of 28-year-old Ohio resident Grant Michalski, later charged with receiving and possessing child pornography. Michalski was told to put his face in front of the phone, thereby unlocking it. This allowed agents to look through his online chats, photos, and other material deemed worthy of investigation.

Apple monitors your iPhone usage to assign you a ‘trust score’

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Apple Maps reservation OpenTable
Apple is watching to be sure your device is really being used by you, and has begun giving each an iPhone trust score.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

In an attempt to prevent fraudulent purchases from the iTunes Store, Apple has begun giving each iOS device a “trust score.” Exactly how this is computed isn’t known, but one of the factors is how many phone calls and emails are sent and received by the phone or tablet.

Despite the laudable goal of preventing fraud, an iPhone trust score is something likely to raise the hackles of privacy advocates. Still, Apple promises that it’s not tracking its users.