Who among the major gadget makers for humans is a defender of user or customer privacy? More so than most, Apple. Far less than anyone else? Google and Facebook. The latter have business models which depend upon information culled from users. Apple sells hardware, and while the company has an interest in collecting data, it cares less about the who than the what.
You might think Apple is a company good at keeping secrets and good at maintaining customer privacy, right?
Apple takes security seriously. Leaks are taboo. CEO Tim Cook famously sent a memo to Apple employees urging them not to leak. As expected, the memo was leaked.
The memo says that Apple caught 29 leakers last year, 12 of whom were arrested, and threatens its employees with the same fate
Leakers do not simply lose their jobs at Apple… In some cases, they face jail time and massive fines for network intrusion and theft of trade secrets both classified as federal crimes
Obviously, leaking information is a serious problem for Apple. So, why does the company engage in selective leaking?
Narrative. Apple wants to control the news and rumors leading up to new product launches so it should come as no surprise that the company leaks details to products. New technology companies are watched by everyone the same way as Apple, so the company needs to control the narrative about policies and products.
Ipso facto and alakazam. Apple spills its own secrets first.
What about customer privacy?
Apple executives tout the company’s privacy policies and seem unafraid to point out the obvious. Personal information is not Apple’s product. Google and Facebook depend upon user information.
We care about the user experience. And we’re not going to traffic in your personal life. I think it’s an invasion of privacy.
Fair enough. Nothing to complain about. Nothing to see here. Move along. Oh. Wait. There’s more.
Privacy to us is a human right. It’s a civil liberty… something that is unique to America, you know, this is like freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and privacy is right up there for us.
Uh huh. Sure. How far does that care and concern for customer privacy extend? Google pays Apple a few billion dollars a year to make Google the default search engine on Safari, which means nearly a billion Apple customers help Google pay money to Apple by using Google to search.
Anybody see a conflict of interest? How can Apple be the champion of personal privacy when it allows the worst privacy infringers a front seat on all of Apple’s major products?
Alright, choice is good and many Apple customers are willing to give up some privacy and personal information to use Google and Facebook. Fair enough. So, where is the switch on iOS or macOS that allows me to turn off all those trackers, ad trackers, analytics trackers, and applications trackers that hide in the background?
Where’s the switch, Apple?
Update: A regular reader recommended a better solution to search by using StartPage instead. Highly recommended reading.