Apple wants to study iPhone users' activities and use it to improve performance. Google collects data on what people are doing online to try to improve their Chrome browser. Do you like the idea of this data being collected? Maybe not, if it's being collected on you--but you probably also realize that there is some benefit to be had from the improved iPhones and web browsers. Differential privacy is a set of policies that walks the line between individual privacy and better data, including even some old-school tricks that scientists use to get people to answer embarrassing questions honestly.