ADOTAS – I hate starting a day with the question, “Am I being paranoid or not paranoid enough?” Of course I’ve got data privacy on my mind, though it surprises me that Facebook isn’t the cause of my distress today — et tu Apple?
It explains that the data is collected anonymously and will only be used by the company and its pals to “provide and improve location-based products and services.” Is that all, though?
These partners and licensees are unnamed, of course — shadowy figures at best. The move seems akin to Apple thumbing its nose at the notion of data transparency — this is the same kind of thing that has drawn the ire of Facebookers. Also there’s no talk about how long Apple will keep the data and under what safeguards.
This business isn’t really related to iAd’s launch next week, as users can easily opt out of cookie collection by heading to http://oo.apple.com. Apple simply laments that you’ve cursed yourself to boring mobile ads that suck.
Also, in its general settings menu, Apple has added a “Location Services” page that allows users to stop apps from using location info. So yes, Apple has covered several of its opt0out bases, but there doesn’t appear to be anything preventing the company itself from collecting and using the data, sharing it with its friends…
To do what?
Don’t give me that “trust us” bullshit — why won’t Apple just come out with some bullet points, a PowerPoint presentation (OK, maybe not PowerPoint) that details how long the location data will be stored, who exactly it will be shared with and the various ways it will be used, not some limp example like “providing better apps.”
And we can’t turn a blind eye to rival Google — it collects the same data from phones running Android.
This is why federal regulation is necessary — it would certainly make consumer worry warts sleep a little easier knowing that an agency is watching out for them.
Stifle competition and business? That’s crap — companies should want their users comfortable with how their information is being used. You really think it’s better business to leave your customers worried about who’s tracking their every move?
To some extent, this is another episode of the “Whose data is it anyhow?” game. Perhaps it can be viewed as a fair trade: for using its OS, a company gets to record your whereabouts and share them. But am I the only one who thinks that’s a helluva lot of power for Apple and Google to wield?
Anyway, European governments, which are far more hard-line when it comes to user privacy, are going to have a shit fit. I’m going to microwave some popcorn because watching the fallout will be quite entertaining — German Consumer Protection Minister Isle Aigner, I’m waiting for your condemnation!