Who is our privacy hero? Who is the public’s privacy champion? Google? Facebook? Amazon? Good Lord, no.
Maybe. Sarah Frier, writing in Bloomberg this week, asks:
Is Apple Really Your Privacy Hero?
Well, among the giants of technology, those that capture huge amounts of user and customer data, Apple seems to stand above the competition.
The world’s most valuable company is seen as a champion for your data. It should be doing more.
Compared to the above anti-heroes, Apple seems to be on a privacy and security roll recently, thanks in part to Facebook’s missteps and Google’s growing reputation as a privacy offender, not defender.
Apple seems a little loose where it’s important to be a data protector.
It has, in effect, abdicated responsibility for possible misuse of data, leaving it in the hands of the independent developers who create the products available in its App Store.
Not only has Apple allowed app developers easy access to customer contact lists– information which can then be sold and used however and wherever– but the list of misuse opportunities has grown long.
The company’s main argument for why it’s a better steward of customers’ privacy is that it has no interest in collecting personal data across its browser or developer network. It simply doesn’t need to, because it doesn’t make its money off advertising. The public wholeheartedly agrees with this “hear no evil, see no evil” strategy
Yet, here is a perfect example of where Apple speaks from both sides of the corporate mouth. Privacy over here on Apple apps, but no privacy over there for other apps, and that gap is built-in. Example? Safari is the most used browser on Mac, iPhone, and iPad, and Safari’s default choice for a search engine is Google.
How can Apple say the company is all about customer privacy when it takes a few billion dollars a year from Google to keep the search engine giant at the top of the list for Safari users? Google may be far better at collecting user information than Facebook, and far more secretive about what it does with that information.
Apple needs more privacy controls, more options, and a few generalized options such as, “Stop all private information collections from, 1) Google, 2) Facebook, 3) Amazon, 4) online advertisers, 5) application developers.
Let’s see if Apple has the courage of its convictions.