Apple CEO Tim Cook is on a righteous warpath by taking aim at Google, Facebook, Amazon, and others who take user and customer privacy– data mined information about online habits, personal information, and more (or worse)– for profit.
Hey, we live in a capitalist society. Everyone is out to get your money and that includes Apple.
Yes, our favorite iPhone maker has a position on user privacy and it flies in the face of Google, Facebook, et al. Right? Maybe. Nobody likes to be a harvested creature but that’s what’s happening and Apple is correct to come down on the side of protecting personal privacy.
Kudos, Apple. But don’t strain yourself patting your own back, Tim, because you have a few problems that need to be addressed before throwing stones at others. Perhaps the worst privacy offender online is Google. Yet, Apple gives Google the default search engine spot on Safari, the browser used by about a billion Apple customers.
Worse, Apple takes money from Google for the privilege. How much? Some reports say $6-billion to $9-billion a year. That default search engine location is beneficial to Google and Apple. Tim Cook knows that Google is the worst privacy offender for a few billion users but talks the talk and does not yet walk the walk.
What could Apple do for user privacy that it does not do already?
First, macOS and iOS could have a No Tracker button that inhibits all the tracking mechanisms from websites and applications. All. Of. Them. One click on a macOS setting or a tap on an iOS setting would prevent all such contact from taking place.
If Apple’s customer have privacy rights then why doesn’t Apple implement a few– optional, of course; because there are some ramifications if all connections are blocked– more?
Second, the billions that Google gives to Apple each year to be the default search engine could be used for what I call ‘iCloud VPN.’ Think of it as a virtual private network only for Apple’s customers (not just iCloud accounts; those are free) with a few tiers to help users avoid both the trackers and data trails that are so commonly used by trackers and authorities.
What’s that worth? $10 a month?
Those are only two items that Apple could implement to help user privacy, but there are more. How about spam free email? How about encrypted email (Apple would need to work with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft to come up with an encrypted email solution; doable, but everyone needs to agree on how it works). That would go a long way toward reducing spam.
See? Easy steps. Apple can afford them. What Apple cannot afford to do is talk the talk but not walk the walk.