Apple Collecting Browsing Data in Safari Using Differential Privacy in macOS High Sierra

safari iconWith the release of macOS High Sierra, Apple is now collecting data from the Safari browser using differential privacy technology, reports TechCrunch. Apple is aiming to gain information about browsing habits to help identify problematic websites that use excessive power or too much memory.

This form of data collection is the first of its kind for Safari, aimed at identifying sites that use excessive power and crash the browser by monopolizing too much memory. Apple is also documenting the popularity of these problematic domains, in order to prioritize which sites it addresses first.

Apple first announced its adoption of differential privacy in 2016 alongside the debut of iOS 10. Differential privacy is a technique that allows Apple to collect user information while keeping user data entirely private. It uses hashing, subsampling, and noise injection to enable crowd-sourced learning without compromising user privacy.

Differential privacy is already in use on Mac and iOS devices for emoji use, search predictions, predictive text, and other small features that use machine learning for improvement.

applesecurityandprivacy
Because of this, Apple does not have a specific message about the new Safari data collection when macOS High Sierra is installed, and it is lumped in with the general Mac analytics data notice that is presented when setting up a new Mac. From Apple's Privacy notice regarding analytics:

If you agree to send Mac Analytics information to Apple, it may include the following:
- Details about app or system crashes, freezes or kernel panics.
- Information about events on your Mac (for example whether a certain function such as waking your Mac was successful or not).
- Usage information (for example, data about how you use Apple and third-party software, hardware, and services).

Analytics data contains your computer's hardware and software specifications, including information about devices connected to your Mac and the versions of the operating system and apps you're using on your Mac. Personal data is either not logged at all in the reports generated by your Mac, is subject to privacy preserving techniques such as differential privacy, or is removed from any reports before they're sent to Apple.

While users are given the option to turn off analytics when setting up a Mac, there's also a Security and Privacy setting that can be accessed to turn it off any time. To get to the feature, click on the Apple at the top of the menu bar, and choose "System Preferences." From there, open up Security and Privacy, select the "Privacy" tab and then choose Analytics to choose whether or not to share data with Apple.

Popular Stories

iOS 18 CarPlay Feature

iOS 18 Adds These 5 New Features to CarPlay

Thursday June 13, 2024 7:44 am PDT by
Apple did not mention CarPlay during its WWDC keynote this week, but iOS 18 includes a handful of new features for the in-car software. Overall, there is not a whole lot new for CarPlay on iOS 18, with changes seemingly limited to the Messages and Settings apps so far. Below, we recap everything new for CarPlay on iOS 18. New for CarPlay on iOS 18 1. Contact Photos in Messages App...
iOS 18 Wallet Feature

Here's What's New in Apple Wallet on iOS 18 for Event Tickets and More

Friday June 14, 2024 7:32 am PDT by
iOS 18 includes a handful of enhancements to the Wallet app on the iPhone, with new features for Apple Pay, Apple Cash, event tickets, and more. Below, we outline everything new for the Wallet app on iOS 18, based on information from Apple's press release and a WWDC 2024 coding session. Redesigned Event Tickets Event tickets have an all-new design in the Wallet app on iOS 18, complete...
maxresdefault

First Look at Messages via Satellite in iOS 18

Thursday June 13, 2024 11:29 am PDT by
Apple has been gradually expanding its suite of satellite connectivity features for iPhone, and iOS 18 brings a significant new one in the form of Messages via satellite. The feature allows users to send and receive iMessages and SMS texts, including emoji and Tapbacks, while out of range of cellular and Wi-Fi networks. CNET met up with Apple's senior director of platform product marketing,...
iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

You Can Give Siri a New Name With iOS 18's Vocal Shortcuts

Friday June 14, 2024 4:33 pm PDT by
Apple in iOS 18 added a Vocal Shortcuts accessibility feature, and now that iOS 18 is available in a beta capacity, users have figured out that this option can be used to give Siri a new wake word. With Vocal Shortcuts, you can assign a custom phrase that Siri can understand to launch shortcuts and complete "complex tasks," and one of the shortcuts you can set up is an alternative for "Hey...

Top Rated Comments

chucker23n1 Avatar
88 months ago
Apple does it. "Oh, its ok." "I'm going to leave it on." "Good for them." Google does the same thing? "Oh. My. God. They are selling my information to the aliens."
It's almost as though the two have completely different business models, one of which hinges on analyzing and profiting off your personal data, and the other of which does not.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kuwxman Avatar
88 months ago
Apple does it. "Oh, its ok." "I'm going to leave it on." "Good for them." Google does the same thing? "Oh. My. God. They are selling my information to the aliens."
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Duane Martin Avatar
88 months ago
Apple does it. "Oh, its ok." "I'm going to leave it on." "Good for them." Google does the same thing? "Oh. My. God. They are selling my information to the aliens."
Wow, are you ever missing the point. Google sells to anyone, not just aliens.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BWhaler Avatar
88 months ago
Well done Apple.

We can have technology advances and privacy. Don’t let the spyware that is google and Facebook tell you otherwise.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
blackcrayon Avatar
88 months ago
I'm usually in favor of opting out of stuff like this - but if it helps them fix those runaway Safari processes that use up all my RAM, I'm all for it.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mariusignorello Avatar
88 months ago
Apple does it. "Oh, its ok." "I'm going to leave it on." "Good for them." Google does the same thing? "Oh. My. God. They are selling my information to the aliens."
Well because what Apple and Google do with your data are two different things. So yes, it is a different scenario.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)