Apple Introduces New Privacy Features with iOS 7


With all the excitement around the launch of the new iPhone and iOS 7, we thought it would be interesting to highlight some new privacy-specific features. Some of these have been introduced as part of the iOS 7 software; others, like the Touch ID fingerprint scanner, are specific to the new iPhone. Here are some new privacy features worth noting:

Limitations on Tracking

No MAC address or UDID tracking

iOS 7 restricts developers’ ability to track users using MAC addresses and UDIDs. This is a technical change; developers trying to access a MAC address are shown an identical number for every device. While the App Store has not accepted new apps that access UDIDs since May, iOS 7 now provides a Vendor Identifier (a unique per-developer identifier) to existing applications accessing the UDID.

Safari privacy

In iOS 7, Safari’s “Private” mode can now be enabled from within the browser itself. Safari’s Do Not Track setting is in Settings > Safari. Enabling private browsing will also turn on Do Not Track for that session.

Limit Ad Tracking 

When Apple advised developers not to use device IDs for tracking, it provided an alternative Advertising Identifier that users could clear. This option is now more visible; it resides under Settings > Privacy > Advertising, rather than under the About section. Users can also find the option to limit ad tracking in the Advertising section.

Other Privacy Features

Touch ID

The new iPhone allows users to unlock the phone using a biometric fingerprint scanner. The phone does not store an image of the fingerprint, but instead stores a mathematical representation of your fingerprint. This information is stored only on the device within an advanced security architecture called the Secure Enclave. Fingerprint data is never accessed by iOS or other third party apps, never stored on Apple servers, and never backed up to iCloud or anywhere else.

Find My iPhone Activation Lock

Find My iPhone now has an ‘Activation Lock,’ requiring a correct Apple ID and password to turn off Find My iPhone or erase the device. Even if the device is erased, reactivating it also requires a correct Apple ID and password.

Frequent Locations

Frequent Locations is a visualization of information that the iPhone collects regarding places you’ve been and how often. This information is kept solely on the device unless a user opts-in to improve Apple Maps, in which case some locations may be submitted in an anonymous form.

Security Features

iOS 7 also debuts data isolation for the microphone and motion detector worldwide. Additional security features are discussed in greater detail in this article.

We’re excited to see these features implemented and look forward to the launch.