Over the past few weeks I have conducted an officially unofficial and unscientific survey of various and sundry contacts; from family members to neighbors, from co-workers to friends. These are Mac folk, Windows sufferers, iPhone and iPad users, and a fair share of Android smartphone owners.
Most of them have one thing in common. Privacy and security doesn’t mean much. It may mean more now than in years past, but it doesn’t mean much beyond a simple password to log into Mac, iPhone, or iPad.
My unofficial survey tells me people know that Google and Facebook and other websites have trackers but they don’t know to the extent each of those online giants actually go to
track stalk their users, and they’re surprised when I give them a quick rundown. That may explain why there was very little public uproar when Facebook was caught selling data that was used to influence voters in recent elections.
Apple may be part of the problem because the company looks at privacy and security differently than Windows PC makers or Google and most Android smartphone makers. Touch ID and Face ID are two good examples of Apple’s approach. Think of both as convenient security. Both enable a higher degree of security than an easy to remember– and steal– password, yet both are more convenient than a password.
That approach also makes it easy for Apple’s customers to worry less about privacy and security because they believe Apple takes care of most of it. They are not exactly wrong in their consideration, but there is more to do than simply trust Apple and Safari.
A healthy chunk of my online time is devoted to various browser-based activities so I tend to be careful about which browsers I use online and when and where I use them. Safari trumps Google Chrome. Firefox trumps Safari. Brave trumps all for privacy and security, but I have become enamored with Firefox Focus, thanks to high privacy and security and a minimum of distracting features.
One tap to the erase button and all your browsing history disappears in Firefox Focus. The latest feature update now locks your tabs behind Face ID whenever the app is relegated to the background. You can see how valuable such features are thanks to the convenience and security in Touch ID and Face ID.
How much more so will Apple’s customers ignore privacy and security in future Apple products? I expect all new 2018 iPhones to have Face ID. I expect new iPad Pro models to have Face ID. In fact, there is no reason not to expect Face ID to show up in most new Macs, and eventually in all iPhones and iPads. Apple remains a few years ahead of Android device makers when it comes to such privacy and security.
So, is ignoring privacy and security a good idea? No. But Apple implements both in a manner that they can be and are ignored. Because Apple could do more to prevent online tracking my personal jury remains out as to whether their approach is best. Ignorance may be bliss, but it’s still ignorance.