Google and Facebook offer a comparatively easier system for users to request a copy of data that the ad giants store on you. Apple, on the other hand, has no such tool available as yet. However, you can still request the company to send you a file containing everything that the iPhone maker has collected on you.
Whether this file "actually" contains everything that the company has on you or if it follows Facebook's strategy of removing some key information from this copy is unclear. But, you will get some glimpse of what the company has access to. [Spoiler: much less than what Google or Facebook has stored about you.]
How to download a copy of everything Apple knows about you
Since the Facebook data scandal started, Apple has repeatedly said that the company doesn't have to use its consumers' data because it's not in the business of selling or monetizing data. "Consumer isn't our product," the company CEO Tim Cook had said, adding that Apple would never be in the position of Facebook.
To see if that's actually true, you can request a copy of personal information that Apple has stored about you. Here are the steps:
- Go to Apple's Privacy Contact Form (link: https://www.apple.com/privacy/contact/)
- Fill the form after selecting Privacy issues in "I have a question about" drop-down menu.
- You will need to add your name, email and comments.
- In the comments, request a copy of your personal information and hit Submit.
Apple will respond to this query asking to confirm your request and verify your identity through a registered product serial number and a previous AppleCare support case number. After that, the company may take a few days to send you this file.
Apple says this file doesn't include "information contained within your account, if any, such as calendar contents, email contents, iTunes content etc." This is because iCloud has "extremely short retention periods." The company promises that it is providing "all data" that is available to it at the time of your request.
For example, conversations which take place over iMessage and FaceTime are protected by end-to-end encryption so no one but the sender and receiver can see or read them. Apple cannot decrypt that data. Similarly, we do not store data related to customers' location, Map searches or Siri requests in any identifiable form.
If you are wondering what this file may contain, CNBC reports that you will see data on your App Store and iTunes activity. From every downloaded app to app updates, books, music, your customer support logs, and every Apple product that you have purchased is included in this log.
Direct data download button coming soon
Apple recently shared that it is planning to add new features to make it easy for users to view and manage their data and privacy. It is unclear if that incoming button will offer access to the same data that is accessible through the above form or if it will include any more data.
We will update this piece when that feature goes live. In the meantime, you can request a copy of your data by contacting Apple's privacy team. As mentioned in our earlier coverage, these copies may contain sensitive information about you, which means you will have to be cautious about storing them locally.