Apple CEO Tim Cook says “privacy is a fundamental human right.” Strong words. What does privacy mean? Nobody seems to agree on the answer, so there are no standards to define privacy and how it can be managed by various governmental authorities.
Oh. Wait. There’s the EU’s GDPR, right? That’s the General Data Protection Regulation and it’s a start toward a more uniform protection of some privacy.
The regulation contains provisions and requirements pertaining to the processing of personally identifiable information (personal data) of individuals (formally called data subjects in the GDPR) inside the European Union, and applies to an enterprise established in the EU or—regardless of its location and the data subjects’ citizenship—that is processing the personal data of people inside the EU.
That’s legalese for ‘be careful what data you capture and how you use it.’ Even Jehovah’s Witnesses, once headquartered here in Brooklyn, in the EU have to ask for permission to take down information in their door-to-door Bible preaching work.
What else should Apple do?
What bothered me most about Apple and the privacy issues raised by members of Congress, is how Apple seems to have been singled out while the worst perpetrator of privacy abuses– Google, I’m looking at you– has mostly been ignored.
Don’t tell me that lobbying government officials and putting money into their campaign coffers doesn’t work.
At Apple, we believe privacy is a fundamental human right. And so much of your personal information — information you have a right to keep private — lives on your Apple devices… Every Apple product is designed from the ground up to protect that information. And to empower you to choose what you share and with whom.
Apple’s privacy policies encompass a number of pages and gets complicated quickly, but the general idea is to collect information useful to Apple and not make it identifiable to a customer.
Compare that straightforward approach to the bullshit from Google.
Every day, data makes our services work better for you. That’s why it’s important that we keep it private and safe – and put you in control.
Good grief. Control?
Maybe you can see what Google has collected about you, personally, but what about the information that Google uses for advertisers, marketers, and other data miners which use that personal information, and mix it and match it with other information easily available elsewhere (Facebook, for example), and then use that same information to target you psycho-graphically to manipulate your thinking to the advantage of marketers?
You can use our services in a variety of ways to manage your privacy. For example, you can sign up for a Google Account if you want to create and manage content like emails and photos, or see more relevant search results. And you can use many Google services when you’re signed out or without creating an account at all, like searching on Google or watching YouTube videos. You can also choose to browse the web privately using Chrome in Incognito mode. And across our services, you can adjust your privacy settings to control what we collect and how your information is used.
That’s babble speak and marketing jargon to make it look as if you have control over what is collected when there isn’t much you can do about the information Google collects elsewhere– beyond the search engine and account usage. What about Google Analytics? Or, Google’s ads?
Apple’s Tim Cook needs to do more regarding privacy and user security. More options, yes, but more in the sense of segregating Apple from Google (Google remains the default search engine on Safari). If privacy truly is important to Apple then why doesn’t Apple promote that privacy, improve privacy and security, and further differentiate the company from the likes of Google and Facebook?