As much as I dislike Google’s business model, which makes the company billions in profits by tracking your every move online, it may be that Apple is even more of a Big Brother.
Stealthy. Big. Brother.
It’s been said that in war, accurate information is among the first casualties. Business is war, and we already know that accurate information is difficult to obtain among the steady stream of the misinformation age.
The NSA tracks telephone calls, messages, email and browsing, personal purchases, and probably any other connection we have that electricity in the chain.
What of Apple? Though not as overt as Google or as covert as the NSA, Apple seems to be involved in an unexpectedly large share of data collection and distribution (taking from users, giving to others).
A couple of months ago I read an interesting article whereby Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs was called ‘Big Brother’ by the NSA, and iPhone users were described as ‘zombies.’
While it’s more likely that the NSA simply did the same to iPhone users as it did to everyone else with a cell phone, where there’s smoke there’s fire.
What Up, iBeacon?
Instead of blindly following the trend to implement RFID in the iPhone, Apple came up with iBeacon, an indoor positioning system– technology which can send push notifications to other devices. A good example of iBeacon use is highlighted by Darrell Etherington who describes how it can be used to track and push information to iPhone users when they walk into a store, restaurant, or business.
Before that can happen, of course, someone needs to know you’re there and that means you’re being tracked. Now, couple that knowledge with in-store cameras which perform facial recognition, and then match that data with what you view while in the store, and you can see the creepy factor growing rapidly.
Apple’s iBeacon is more subtle and elegant than some tracking mechanisms, of course, but it’s still tracking you as you shop. I would prefer that Apple come down squarely on the side of personal privacy and avoid all tracking whatsoever. Maybe that’s just not possible in the digital age. But a single setting on Mac, iPhone, and iPad that reduces tracking to a minimum would be a big plus.