Apple is looking to cast itself as a different kind of company in how it handles people's personal information.
In the wake of the iCloud hacking scandal, Apple CEO Tim Cook published a letter Wednesday on the company's website detailing its approach to privacy and reassuring customers that their data is safe following the leak of celebrities' intimate photos.
The letter comes as Apple begins to push into sensitive new areas that will require maintaining the trust of the public: tracking health information, mobile payments and online services for kids.
"A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realize that when an online service is free, you're not the customer. You're the product," Cook wrote, drawing a sharp contrast with Google and Facebook, which collect information from consumers to target advertising. "But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn't come at the expense of your privacy."
Cook says Apple does not build a profile of users based on "your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers" or "read your email or your messages to get information to market to you," a direct swipe at Google's Gmail.
Apple is also taking a hard line on government surveillance. With the release of iOS 8, Apple said its iPhones now encrypt content stored on them such as e-mails and placed calls so that it is not possible to respond to government warrants to unlock devices.
"Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data," the company said.
Cook recently told PBS News' Charlie Rose he was "offende