See A message from Tim Cook and especially Government Information Requests. It’s good; well-written and clear. Plus, there’s a news story; as of iOS 8, Apple can’t unlock a random iPhone. Mind you, this is also an Apple marketing piece.

Grumblers · I hear a certain amount of grumbling along the lines of “It’s a bunch of lies, Snowden said PRISM is pulling the goodies straight outta the servers.” Also, “Encryption is useless because a determined adversary will route around it.”

I’m pretty sure both those arguments are crap. While nobody can know 100% for sure, it’s increasingly looking like the claims in those PRISM Powerpoints were, um, a little inflated. I tend to believe Cook (and his peers at the other Internet giants) when he says “…we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers.”

Second, of course no encryption is ever perfect; as James Mickens points out, if an organization like the Mossad thinks they need to getcha, they’re gonna getcha. But remember that with privacy, It’s the economics, stupid.

So yeah, I believe Apple is doing substantially the right thing about privacy.

It’s marketing, too · Apple’s privacy docs stress that they “don’t monetize” your information and in Privacy Built In, are full of references to the regrettable practices of “other companies” who gather and use your information. Let me translate: “Google and Facebook store your information and make money from it, tsk tsk.”

So why don’t Google and Facebook and so on just stop doing that, and be nice like Apple? The trade-off is unsubtle: Google and Facebook and so on give their products away for free; Apple doesn’t.

I think it’s 100% OK to raise the world’s consciousness about the issues with using free ad-supported products. Also, I’d welcome the opportunity to pay approximately what the advertisers do for access to Google’s goodies. Unfortunately, I suspect I’m in a small minority. But still, I wish they’d try.

Anyhow, good for Apple. I hope this pushes the whole industry in the right direction.



Contributions

Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: John Cowan (Sep 18 2014, at 10:11)

"we have nev­er worked with any gov­ern­ment agen­cy from any coun­try"

Well, they would say that, wouldn't they? Especially if they were forced to do it and then gagged.

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From: d.w. (Sep 18 2014, at 11:20)

@John Cowan -- it is much easier (and more advisable) to say nothing in that case, rather than to say something provably false that can come back and bite you later.

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From: Ed (Sep 18 2014, at 13:31)

Apple's credibility here might be improved when they renounce targeted advertising. Breath not being held.

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From: Fazal Majid (Sep 18 2014, at 14:34)

Even if the government had a gag order, they wouldn't have an order that forced him to lie and make a positive affirmation, he would still have the option of being quiet. Compare with Larry Page's carefully parsed non-denials (granted, Page is an awkward speaker at the best of times). That is not as reassuring as you may think - some government gag orders require the employee doing the monitoring not to inform his own hierarchy, so it is quite possible government skullduggery is occurring at Apple and Cook is not aware of it.

The fact Apple took out its "canary" is also relevant here:

http://boingboing.net/2014/09/18/apples-patriot-act-detecting.html

There have been some more details shed on how Yahoo was forced to capitulate under duress, after being threatened with a $250K daily fine for non-compliance, and then the NSA went with that court decision to force the others to join in PRISM.

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From: dave (Sep 18 2014, at 23:50)

"we have nev­er worked with any gov­ern­ment agen­cy from any coun­try to cre­ate a back­door in any of our prod­ucts or ser­vices. We have al­so nev­er al­lowed ac­cess to our servers."

I always took this to mean they were forced to send a whole bunch of information, automatically, to the NSA.

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From: len (Oct 01 2014, at 10:48)

An unamazing amount of blame shifting going on. Take away all of that and it comes down to one fact: security systems advsertised failed as predicted.

The web was designed and implemented by social nitwits and sold to idiots. And we all accept that. So the best advice given so far despite how spun as blaming victims is the one given so many years ago: don't put anything on the web that you don't want to see on the front page of the New York Times.

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