Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has released a statement in response to the allegations that it automatically collects user search and location data using Spotlight Suggestions. The company said that the extent of the data collected is limited and that it is determined to keep customer data safe.
Apple reassures users over privacy
A report from The Washington Post termed Spotlight as a privacy blunder on the part of Apple, saying that after Yosemite is installed, then users searching for files, even on their own hard drives, automatically send their locations, unique identifying codes and search terms to the company. The same process is applicable to a device using Apple Inc.’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 8.
In response, the iPhone maker issued a statement to iMore suggesting that the system is not as interfering as it was described by the Post. Though some information is sent to Apple’s server, it is only stored for 15 minutes before it is recycled.
“Apple devices only use a temporary anonymous session ID for a 15-minute period before the ID is discarded,” the company said in a statement.
The Cupertino Calif.-based company said it are committed to safeguarding the privacy of users and has full security features on its smartphones. Also the company does not track or store the IP addresses of the user’s device. The Spotlight feature, according to the company, never reveals the exact location of the user and does not use a permanent identifier, so a user search history can neither be created by Apple or anyone else.
Users may opt out
The iPhone maker also reassured users that it had worked in collaboration with Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) to safeguard their privacy. Moreover, only commonly searched terms and city-level location information is sent to Bing. Microsoft never retains search queries or receives users’ IP addresses.
Apple also said users can opt out of Spotlight suggestions, Bing and Location Services through System Preferences on Mac and Settings in iOS.
Apple upgraded the Spotlight feature in OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 to include results in the form of local files and folders as well as extend it to the Web with Spotlight Suggestions, offering up information from Wikipedia, Microsoft’s Bing search engine and Apple Inc.’s first-party services like iTunes and the App Store.