Apple Updates Data And Privacy Tools For European Customers

Apple launched an updated Data and Privacy web portal that makes it easier to manage Apple ID accounts. In the U.S., the portal has two main functions: correcting the information Apple has associated with a particular account, and permanently deleting an account and its associated data from Apple's services. Apple customers in the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, however, can use more tools.

Europeans can use the new Data and Privacy web portal to find out what exactly Apple has associated with their accounts. 9To5Mac reports that the tool allows European customers to download a copy of their Apple ID and iCloud data. All they have to do is check the boxes next to specific categories, which range from Apple ID account and device information to the ambiguous "other data," and select a maximum download size.

Apple will also let European customers temporarily deactivate their accounts rather than permanently deleting them. Deactivating an account effectively cuts it off from the Apple ecosystem--purchases from the App Store, iBooks, and iTunes can't be accessed; any data stored in iCloud will be put under lock and key; and iCloud-powered services like FaceTime and iMessage won't function. Accounts can, of course, be reactivated.

It's not hard to figure out why European customers have so many more tools available to them via this portal: the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect on May 25. Releasing the new Data and Privacy tools just two days before that deadline indicates that Apple wanted to make sure it complied with the rules so it wouldn't face the risk of heavy fines and outraged customers after they go into effect.

Americans don't have to fret, however, because Apple reportedly plans to introduce all these features to all of its customers sometime in the future. That also doesn't come into much of a surprise--many tech companies have opted to release GDPR-motivated features or policy changes worldwide instead of restricting them to Europe. (Even as some also work to make sure GDPR protections cover as few people as possible.)

Apple customers in the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland can use these new tools now. It's not clear when they'll reach the rest of the world, but hopefully the wait won't be too long. The popularity of Apple's hardware as well as the wide reaches of its software ecosystem mean the company has access to a lot of data; seeing exactly what the company knows about you could be comforting.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.