Sodium in your diet is a good thing. Too much sodium in the diet is a bad thing. The problem is, food manufacturers cannot be blamed for using sodium. Those of us who eat food must be held accountable for the overall total and cumulative amount of sodium in our diets.
So it is with privacy and security. I’m on record as stating that computer users these days– and that includes everything from Mac to iPhone, and their Windows and Android counterparts– are under assault from a variety of information vendors and technology manufacturers. Only one company offers some relief from the cumulative effects of such online dangers.
Personal privacy and online security as issues that rank with diet, exercise, and health.
Visible Trojan Horse
We’re not under assault by any one food maker, but cumulatively our health is at stake. Likewise, our privacy and security is under assault from many directions, and while one source may not impair our online health, cumulatively we’re in danger of being overwhelmed by the totality of danger. Just like a diet that has, in total, too much sodium, too much fat, too many calories, and not enough exercise to offset the effects.
I identify two major issues that relate to a third issue. The first is privacy, then security, then the cloud, where information about us is stored, and where we store personal information (they are not the same).
Here is what I want and do not want.
I want privacy fully intact and in my control, and my security unable to be breached by outside forces. Is that too much to ask? I don’t think so.
What I see taking place around me is akin to my sodium analogy. No single affront to my objectives matters that much, but collectively and cumulatively, the total is beyond the scope of benefit to me. Apple can collect crash reports and anonymize user actions to build a better product. Google has no right to collect information about my viewing or purchasing habits and sell that information to the highest bidder. I have a desire to be Apple’s customer. But as a user of Google software, I have no desire to be part of the information and data products they sell to advertisers.
I want privacy. I want that privacy secure and under my control.
That brings me to the cloud. The cloud, roughly defined, is your information or information about you, that is stored somewhere online, usually in a disparate group of servers scattered hither and yon. Use Dropbox? Those files are stored over there. Got Gmail? Those messages are stored over here. Got email, documents, photos, or anything else of a private nature? Who the hell knows where it all is stored.
Google provides free email services in exchange for the rights to track you and read your messages. Google provides free photo storage online in exchange for the rights to scan those photos and identify everything in them. Countless advertisers and websites track our whereabouts online, slowly building a profile or portfolio of our online habits, but that data doesn’t extend to only our online locations. Google now has the ability to track what we buy and track the purchase back to advertising. Yes, advertisers want that information. Google sells it. Google gets the data from its users.
Is there a danger in that? Yes.
Just as a back door password to open encryption is bad for everyone, unadulterated capture of personal information should be considered an invasion of privacy, and require rules and safeguards to prevent or manage its use.
What role should Apple play in all this?
Apple must make my privacy and security paramount in every product. Stop using Google as the default browser. Sure, Apple gets revenue from that, but by promoting Google’s data culling efforts, Apple is a partner in the crime of diminishing privacy and security.
Like Google, Apple wants customers to store more information online, in the cloud. I get that. It’s an acceptable tradeoff because much of the information we use needs to be available on all devices and iCloud and cloud services provide an easy way to accomplish that and provide needed backup and security. I want privacy first, security for that privacy and my personal information, and both even if cloud storage is involved.
Apple can do this with iCloud and rules for iOS and macOS applications (especially those that phone home with collected information). What’s mine is mine. It does not belong to Google, Amazon, Russian hackers, or the U.S. government. I’m willing to pay Apple’s premium prices as long as I get that privacy and security in return.
“Dear Apple, let’s see more privacy and security options.”