Technology

What's Up With Apple: Privacy Page, Former Employee Sued

In a move intended to assure its customers that the company practices what it preaches, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) on Thursday launched an official web page that collects in one place the privacy details for all apps developed by the company.

The information has been available since December but was scattered around among the dozens of apps Apple has developed. The company’s alphabetically ordered list makes it easy to find out what data is collected by the app and whether it is linked to a person’s identity.

For example, the Phone app “may” collect contact info, location data, user content and identifiers that may be linked to your personal identity when you make or receive a call. The app “may” also collect location data, usage data and diagnostics information that is not linked to you.

Apple’s Health app, according to the company’s description, may collect health and fitness data, location, sensitive info, search history, identifiers, usage data and diagnostics, but none is linked to your personal identity.

If you don’t know what some of those terms mean, Apple has included a glossary that defines them. For example, among the “sensitive info” Apple apps may collect are “racial or ethnic data, sexual orientation, pregnancy or childbirth information, disability, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, political opinion, genetic information, or biometric data.”

When Apple finally launches its Apps Tracking Transparency feature, apps won’t be able to track your movements among apps or around the web without your explicit permission. Facebook has been the most vocal critic of the transparency feature, but Apple has not changed its course.

Apple has filed a lawsuit against a former employee alleging that Simon Lancaster used his position in the company to get Apple-proprietary “sensitive trade secret information” that he leaked to a journalist and published himself in rumor stories about the company.

According to a report at MacRumors, Lancaster began leaking details of future hardware devices through text messages, emails and phone calls in November of 2018. He resigned from his position a year later. Apple alleges that Lancaster shared detailed information related to “unreleased Apple hardware products, unannounced feature changes to existing hardware products, and future product announcements” and also gave confidential data to his new employer, an Apple vendor.

Apple is seeking damages it claims to have incurred as a result of the leaked trade secrets and wants to claw back any gains Lancaster may have realized from the theft of the documents. MacRumors has posted a copy of the complaint filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.