Privacy and personal data are in the spotlight right now due to the Cambridge Analytica debacle and Facebook's complete failure to protect user data. Jefferson Graham, a technology columnist for the USA Today, decided to investigate further and see how Google in terms of the personal data collected. The results are surprising in a good way for Apple users.
Graham's personal information archive is in 881MB. The zip file is received from Google is much smaller, but still 243MB. The zip file from Apple? Just 9MB.
You may remember Apple CEO Tim Cook criticized Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg for prioritizing advertisers over users. Zuckerberg responded, calling Cook's comments, “extremely glib and not at all aligned with the truth.” Tim Cook also that Apple could “make a ton of money if we monetized our customer.” Based on the personal data sent to Graham, Apple is clearly keeping your data private.
Graham has used iPhones, iPads, and Macs for at least a decade, so Apple has had a lot of time to collect detailed information on him. However, included in the 9MB zip file was a list of timestamps for iPhone backups, when uploads to iCloud happened, a record of his e-mail and physical address, and a list of each app. There was also a record of Apple device repairs.
Safari browsing data is not tracked and Siri uses a random identifier. Because of that, it is not included in the personal data archive.
Another big difference is how quickly each of the companies provide the personal data archive. Facebook will share the file with you almost instantly, where as Google takes a few hours. However, Apple requires a street address, a phone number, and the serial number of your device. In the end it took Graham eight days to get his data.
Clearly Apple has a big lead when it comes to keeping your personal data private their own consumption. But that difference is inherent in the different business model. Apple is all about selling hardware, software, and services the consumer pays for. Google and Facebook bypass the need for payment by making consumers (and consequently their data) the product.