It’s one thing to write about how we deserve privacy online, but what is Apple’s actual approach to giving customers the privacy and security we deserve? It seems to me that Apple is talking the talk but not walking the walk.
Shareholders vs. Privacy
Apple’s position vs. other Silicon Valley technology giants is somewhat different. As a company with more than a billion customers, Apple remains a hardware company (Services may be growing and represents more revenue than iPad or Mac, but still requires a customer base of hardware owners). Facebook is an advertising company. Google is an advertising company. Both have a vested monetary interest in collecting user data to drive revenue and profits. Apple does not.
It’s time to stand up for the right to privacy—yours, mine, all of ours.
Fair enough. I’m with you. Oh, Tim. Why do you accept money from Google while knowing the search engine giant sucks private information from Apple’s customers? Just curious.
Consumers shouldn’t have to tolerate another year of companies irresponsibly amassing huge user profiles, data breaches that seem out of control and the vanishing ability to control our own digital lives.
Yep, I’m with you, Tim. Uh, I’m curious, though. While Apple does not gather user information for profit as with the likes of Facebook and Google, Apple does profit off their position on iPhones, iPads, and Macs.
How do you propose to give Apple customers tools to stop such personal data pilfering?
Last year, before a global body of privacy regulators, I laid out four principles that I believe should guide legislation…
Seems to me there will be a good chance that you retire a wealthy man before government officials agree to such a plan. What? It’s a four step plan? OK.
First, the right to have personal data minimized. Companies should challenge themselves to strip identifying information from customer data or avoid collecting it in the first place.
While it’s nice that Apple treats personal data that way, what steps has Apple taken to prevent the likes of Facebook and Google and advertisers and trackers from doing their deeds to Apple’s customers?
Second, the right to knowledge—to know what data is being collected and why.
Yeah, I’m sure the advertising and tracking entities that prowl the interwebs will agree to that. Maybe we need a switch on iOS and macOS that simply turns off all that tracking? You don’t need to give me credit. Just do it.
What? Apple cannot? Because money?
Third, the right to access. But whatever.
Uh, I kinda think that #2 and #3 are the same thing. For brevity’s sake, just put them together into one point.
Fourth, the right to data security, without which trust is impossible.
I hear you. Except I’m being tracked at every turn while traversing the interwebs on my iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and advertisers and websites continue to gather data and analytics about me wherever I visit and whichever app I use?
Will laws fix that?
Laws alone aren’t enough to ensure that individuals can make use of their privacy rights.
That’s kind of what I thought, too. Anything else that Apple can do to help us maintain our privacy and security?
We also need to give people tools that they can use to take action.
Great. So, the next updates to iOS and macOS will feature a No Tracker button so websites and advertisers will not be able to track Apple’s customers, right?
Right? Hello? Are you there, Tim?
Yeah, I know– and many Apple customers do not– that when I buy something or visit a website or search for information, that personal data is tracked, stored, and sold to information brokers. It seems to me that if Apple stopped that for a billion customers that customers might reward Apple with more product purchases.
Some state laws are looking to accomplish just that, but right now there is no federal standard protecting Americans from these practices.
How about if Apple gives customers a standard set of tools to inhibit or prohibit such tracking and data collection? How about instead of buying back $100-billion in APPL stock that Apple buy back $90-billion and use the other $10-billion for an iCloud VPN (virtual private network) that helps to inhibit such perverse data trackers?
It’s not as if Apple cannot afford to put in a few tools to help customers, amirite, Tim?
Technology has the potential to keep changing the world for the better, but it will never achieve that potential without the full faith and confidence of the people who use it.
I hear you, Tim. But talk is cheap. Anyone can talk the talk, but I prefer to deal with those who walk the talk and walk the walk. Give Apple’s customers the proper tools and options to manage trackers, keep privacy, and enhance online security.
Anything else is just talk.