Apple is that Big Tech company that has – in lieu of any actual innovation – made a hard pivot over the past couple of years towards “privacy” – that it says it affords its customers.
A few years ago, many thought it was the obvious marketing direction, given the abysmal privacy record of the main competitor to Apple’s mobile iOS operating system, Google’s Android.
And while Android is coupled with Google’s ruthless and relentless business of gathering personal information of users to “share it” (for profit) across various platforms – Apple’s pitch has been, look – we do sell you this severely overpriced hardware/software, but that satisfies our appetite for profit.
And that’s how we make our money, Apple suggested. Your data is safe. We charge exorbitant amounts not only to afford you a social status by acquiring Apple hardware – but in turn, by us making all that money, we can also afford to respect your privacy by not messing with your personal data by selling it for more money to advertisers. Because we’ve already fleeced you, the customer, real good.
It’s some version of that worked for Apple – until controversies surfaced.
Mostly in the shape of Apple’s “virtual assistant” Siri, that instead of listening to you unless you explicitly trigger it – as was Apple’s promise – apparently did it at will.
It’s been almost a year since that came to light, thanks to an Apple contractor – but now we actually have the name of the whistleblower.
We have a copy of the whistleblower’s letter for you here.
Reports from insiders over the past year have been suggesting that the software has been engaged in “listening” – or rather – 24-hour surveillance – in an “always on” mode. And while saying “Siri” is the way to activate it – there’s really no way to turn it off. In other words – there may be no “safe word” antidote to your relationship with Apple, and its software at this point.
That’s according to the whistleblower, Thomas Le Bonniec, who is now quoted in reports by European digital activists.
The scope of this privacy violation is potentially massive: invasion of anything pertaining to users’ personal lives, political opinions, sexual preferences – all the while keeping them unaware of the fact their conversations may have been recorded by Apple.
“Due to the scope and gravity of the alleged violations, noyb.eu expects the case to be reviewed under the urgency procedure Article 66 GDPR,” said this Vienna-based digital rights watchdog.