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Apple to roll out new privacy features to comply with EU rules

As it gets ready for Europe's General Data Protection Regulation, Apple will make it easier for you to get copies of your data and deactivate your account.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook has made privacy and security a priority for his company. 

James Martin/CNET

Apple hopes to soon make it easier for you to manage your privacy.

The iPhone maker plans to roll out four privacy management tools to comply with the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, which goes into effect May 25. That includes the ability to get a copy of your data, request a correction to your data, deactivate your account and delete your account completely. 

You already can do all those tasks, except deactivate your account, by filling out online forms or calling AppleCare. Apple's move to put the tools in one central place is designed to make it easier for you to have more control and awareness over what information the company has about you. 

The tools, which will be available on your Apple ID account page, arrive in the EU in May and will later roll out globally. 

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The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, aims to give Europeans more control over their information and how companies use it. Businesses that fail to comply with the regulation face fines of as much as 4 percent of their annual revenue.

Facebook, which has been facing an outcry over user privacy, in January said it would introduce a new privacy center to group its privacy settings in one place and comply with the GDPR. Reports earlier this month revealed how Cambridge Analytica, a digital consultancy hired by the Trump presidential campaign, mined personal details from millions of Facebook users without their permission. 

Apple has long been a proponent of strong user privacy. The company fought a high-profile battle with the US Justice Department to avoid having to build new tools to unlock iPhones. And it's continuously built new features into its software to make sure user data remains secure. The company makes its money by selling pricey phones, tablets, computers and other hardware, not by selling user data to marketers. 

On Wednesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook criticized Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, saying that the social media giant failed to effectively regulate itself, prompting a need for government intervention.

"The truth is, we could make a ton of money if we monetized our customer -- if our customer was our product. We've elected not to do that," Cook said to MSNBC's Chris Hayes and Recode's Kara Swisher in a collaborative interview set to air next week. 

Apple said it's been working for months on its new tools to address the GDPR. 

Along with the GDPR tools, Apple on Thursday rolled out new privacy features as part of its iOS 11.3 software update. The iPhone and iPad software now has new privacy icons that'll appear when an Apple feature asks to use your personal data. When you download the 11.3 update, you'll see the icons as part of setup and then will notice them in various features. The privacy icons also appear in the latest versions of Apple's MacOS computer software and its tvOS software for its Apple TVs. 

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