The Day Software Changed Forever

| Editorial

Like schools of fish seeking nutrients, Internet citizens swarm over the free software offered by large corporations. Then, later, they discover that they don’t like the terms of service or the protection of privacy. It happens over and over with the same results. What’s going on?

Recently, we’ve become even more aware of the fact that the devices or Internet software we use, while providing lots of utility, is really a black box. It all started with Google mail which we, at first, thought of as serving us, but realized only later that it was a massive data mining operation. These new services are designed to make companies lots of money behind the scenes in, to be blunt, secretive ways. Or they use information about us to make more money by selling it to others who do the same.

Suddenly, the discussion isn’t about how our lives are improved. It isn’t about how we can become more creative. All of a sudden, every day, the discusion is about how the good guys and the bad guys are using our devices against us. Or at the very least, schemes are drawn up that draw the masses in, but don’t improve on what we have — in the name of “free.”

For example, Google music is built with the promise that our music resides in the cloud, and it will be available to us anywhere. Eventually, we’ll have to pay for the privilege of accessing our own music — if the service survives. I am compelled to point out that there is already a service that allows us to access our music anywhere we go - with fairly good sound quality.

It’s called an iPod.

What Can We Do?

Earlier this week, I talked about making technology choices. I mentioned that people fill up their preferred technology bucket in different, unique, personal ways. But I didn’t talk about how people make those choices. For example, what are the risks? What are the tradeoffs? How does the service promote our personal agenda in terms of productivity, pleasure, security, and time well spent?

Even more to the point, are the purported benefits of these services intentionally designed to lure us in but not fully deliver the benefits because we’re deluded into misunderstanding the developer’s promises and positioning? After all, our own preconceptions and erroneous assumptions are used against us all the time in conventional advertising*.

Deception

For example, Mike Elgan points out that a lot of information about us, where we are and what we like, has value, but there’s been no legal determination of who owns that information. If that determination is never made, it’s up to us to guard it or hide it or figure out how to make companies pay for it. Or bypass that technology altogether. Or relent. Our choice.

Absent legislation, it’s necessary for us to make some really hard choices about the services and software we engage in. Google and Facebook use information collected about us for its own financial advantage, and hopes that we’ll engage the service in a kind of mindless, off hand kind of happy-go-lucky way. Apple does a better job of delivering cool hardware that makes our lives joyful and productive, but the recent Congressional hearings suggest that Apple is so large that little bits and pieces escape even them. Moreover, large companies like Apple have a voracious appetite for new money making schemes, so we have to keep a close eye on them as well.

I’m going to be spending more time being critical of these Internet software services. I hope you’re thinking about your choices as well.

________

* “Nobody beats our cleaning product!” Technical translation: if no one product is superior, then in the best case, they’re all the same.

Comments

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Eventually, we?ll have to pay for the privilege of accessing our own music

This is a convenient interpretation. Another interpretation is that you’d be paying for storage and timely access on a multitude of devices without having to sync. Convenience has value too.

I’m already at the point where my music library is quite a bit bigger than what will fit on 32GB of storage. Perhaps the coolest thing about my music library is being able to find an old song at just the right time. Not terribly cool when it’s not on the device I have at hand.

Lee Dronick

“For example, Mike Elgan points out that a lot of information about us, where we are and what we like, has value, but there?s been no legal determination of who owns that information. If that determination is never made, it?s up to us to guard it or hide it or figure out how to make companies pay for it. Or bypass that technology altogether. Or relent. Our choice.”

http://www.facebook.com/terms.php

?For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (“IP content”), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (“IP License”). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.?

geoduck

I am compelled to point out that there is already a service that allows us to access our music anywhere we go - with fairly good sound quality.

It?s called an iPod.

Exactly right. With the ability to carry 64Gb (160Gb for a Classic) you can carry all your stuff, everything you have, everything you could ever need, everything you won’t need, and not have to pay monthly fees or worry about having a connection. No need to Synch when EVERYTHING is there. No need for WiFi or anything G if you have all your stuff with you.

Drives are cheap.

Joe Shimkus

Google is like the local pusher… the first one’s free.

wab95

Thoughtful piece, John.

Which, in turn, has sparked another thought, completely insane and out of the box, but so be it.

The global economy remains torpid. Google, Facebook and others are merchants of info. This is how they make their bread and butter. So why not cut to the chase. Forget the services, many of which most users will not use anyway. Let these merchants create ‘info-only’ opt-ins, where people can, for a cut of the sales and any profits, provide their info to these corporations, knowing full well, and documented by contract, that the company will sell their information to other clients. For every sale of info, and for a specified share of the company’s profits, the individual is paid, either in cash or credits.

This way, these companies drop the pretence and come clean that they just want to sell your data. Users acknowledge up front that they are knowingly the commodity for sale, but get a cut and effectively become partners in the transaction; which facilitates the spread of their info (specified by contract), they get paid and the economy prospers. Folks might even turn off their spam filters and boost their click-rates, just to ensure Google’s (or others) profitability.

For those who want the services, they can opt-out of the profit share.

Everyone’s happy.

Nemo:

is this legal?

Nemo

John with his usual eloquence and brevity gets to the point:  That “free” is used to seduce us into using new technology, but there isn’t any such thing as free, that is, where something cost money to provide but is donated to us.  What free in technology really means is that the good and/or service is provided to us in exchange for some non-monetary consideration, consideration which is most often surreptitiously extracted from us.  John admonishes us to simply be aware of the terms of trade, what is being exchanged for what, and be certain that those terms suit us.

Nemo

Dear wab95:  I don’t see any legal reason that would prohibit the contract that you propose, but there are some practical problems.  First, as Mr. Elgan discusses in the article that John references, it is not clear who owns the user’s location and other personal data.  Though it seems intuitive that one would own one’s personal data, the question before the law is unsettled.  Though the FTC is working on some privacy legislation and there is some primitive law forbidding the unconsented to acquisition and use of a person’s personal data, there is no legal authority that I am aware of that clear gives a person property rights in the unique personal data that he generates.

At best, we acknowledge a kind of quasi-property right in that we require consent but not necessarily informed consent to obtain and use a person’s personal data.  It is that right of consent that you’ve have to bargain with Google and its ilk.

But a more daunting problem is that Google and its ilk won’t bargain with you, because they don’t have to.  The isolated and few consumers who would insist on getting a cut of the action for their consent are too few and too isolated, so that Google and its ilk will simply tell such consumers/users to go drop dead, before they will negotiate away any of the revenue generated by a user’s personal data.  Perhaps, consumers/users could, without violating antitrust law, ban together to form a large enough bargaining unit that would have sufficient leverage to force Google and its ilk to deal.  However, there is authority to suggest that consumers, as consumers, could form a purchasing unit to bargain their right to consent, but forming such a sufficiently large unit is daunting task.

wab95

But a more daunting problem is that Google and its ilk won?t bargain with you, because they don?t have to.? The isolated and few consumers who would insist on getting a cut of the action for their consent are too few and too isolated, so that Google and its ilk will simply tell such consumers/users to go drop dead, before they will negotiate away any of the revenue generated by a user?s personal data


Many thanks, Nemo.

Pretty much what I figured.

If there is any lesson that we’ve learnt from the explosive emergence of the internet, it is that new paradigms are born by the day. To date, these paradigms have monetarily benefited corporations, while consumers have benefited from products and services. It is a conceptual stretch, but not a great leap, to make an alternative arrangement which does not involve service use by the consumer, but is instead a monetary arrangement - converting the consumer to a partner who contributes raw materials that in turn become a more refined product.

Without doubt, both steps (legislation on data ownership and contract negotiation) would require organisation and leadership on a grand scale - which could be done via Facebook and Google (like the Arab Spring). Deliciously ironic.

One wonders whether they could legally block such activities on their services.

ethan

Nemo, In the same vain maybe all the iOS users could band together and demand payments from Apple. Since Apple uses the carrot/privilage of access to those iOS users to generate 30% cuts from the sales of apps/products/and services from 3rd parties. Doesn’t the consent of “access” to you (through the garden wall) represent a valuable asset that Apple should cut all the iOS users in on?

I think all eyes need to be on Apple as the cloud solutions and iAds start to collect more data they will begin to act like Google to generate revenue from the data.

VaughnSC

demand payments from Apple

Couldn’t it be argued that you are already being directly and indirectly compensated in the form of substantially cheaper software prices and convenience using this model vis-?-vis the previous methods?

Ethan

P

substantially cheaper software prices

I think it would need to be compared to prices on other platforms like Android where there is software overlap. If the prices are similar on another platform where there is not a lockdown of app stores, ad platforms, and in app purchases then it would not be a benefit. Not to mention if you buy no software but only download free apps with say iAds in them then the cost is not a benefit for you.

I’m sure there is a clause somewhere in the EULA that basically prevents this type of thing and protects Apple .

mhikl

Clarity is thy name, Sir Henry!

mhikl

Go for it Ethan. Let us know how it turns out.

Ethan

mkikl. I was just asking nemo (a lawyer) for his opinion on applying the previous idea of wab95 to Apple’s financial benefit controlling access to all it’s users. A legitimate question. Yet when I bring it up suddenly you chime in with the sarcasm. This is the garbage I was talking about in another forum on here.

You guys are never willing to apply the same methods on Apple as you are on Google/MS/Facebook/etc. If anyone even dares draw a comparison to Apple (in this case the validity of a class action lawsuit) the sarcasm/arrogance/snide comments starts up.

Pashtun Wally

@ geoduck:  with respect, not true.  I spent years in radio & records, and have close to 10k discs/albums.  There is no portable device on which I can have “everything”...or even a representative sampling of “everything”.

I don’t see how pay-for-cloud-storage worked for me.  I think lots of people will have the same basic issue - even if they *can* get EVERYTHING on their iPod.

Bob

I don’t understand why so many people obsess over the 30% taken by Apple. Any dealer, retailer, distributor takes a similar amount on everything they sell. So why should Apple take less. You could easily argue Apple spends more on advertising than any alternative stores so they should probably get even more. Anyone running a business can tell you that selling something yourself will also cost you at least this much after paying for showroom, advertising, commissions, admin, returns, etc. I find it admirable that they are so upfront about it and fair (same for everyone).

amergin

to wab95 and the others - if a company gets a dollar from a million people it makes a million dollars, if a million people get a dollar from a company they make a dollar. Google and the others make money from the sheer scale of their user numbers. How can those users possibly expect a worthwhile payment for their data? Even Apple, with its huge cashpile would be broke in days if it started giving out even minuscule sums to each and every user!

Daniel

Great article. I couldn’t agree more. Thanks to the location debate at the moment I’v only really begun to appreciate how deceiving these companies are, and have stopped using Gmail, and rather switched back to Mobile Me, because at least Apple isn’t scouring my emails to send me advertising…

That’s just the beginning and as you point out, each person needs to decide for themselves what price they are willing to pay for privacy, or alternatively, give in and give them everything.

Ironically, I trust Apple more now than ever before since this “scandal” has pointed out that they generally ARE very careful about privacy, although there is room for improvement.

Google on the other hand has been totally exposed by this scandal and it practically has zero defence because it’s guilty of data mining.

Ethan

“Ironically, I trust Apple more now than ever before”

To put ANY trust in Apple is naive. They, just like Google, Facebook, Verizon, MS, etc, have a bottomline and all the data they pull from your use of their products/services will be used for profit. Apple will have more of these issues as it enters the cloud service area. Nature of the beast-security is an overhead cost and never gets the $$$ it should unless regulations are passed. When you use MobileMe email ASSUME that your data is being analyzed because it is. It’s too valuable to Apple’s bottomline not to know everything about you.

mhikl

Ethan, it is easy to accuse. Not so easy to prove.

Again, I challenge you. Show what backs up your words.

No sarcasm. What I can’t prove, I preface with “I suspect . . .” or other. Then, because I don’t know for sure, I listen. I learn.

Sort of how I was brought up. Some are lucky, I guess. Again, a fact, not sarcasm.

And do come again.

ethan

mhikl, I should clarify-the user should take a stance of ASSUMING that their data is being analyzed. They should believe that it is as that is (from a security view) the correct standpoint to then assess your risk tolerance for the given data. Assume gmail and mobilme emails are read by others. Do not put anything in them you don’t want others to read (perfect example:Enron emails). Don’t post anything to iDisk that you don’t want analyzed by Apple. Don’t do anything on an iPhone if you don’t want Apple to know (same with google/android.)

Assume Apple is looking at your data and your in the correct frame of mind to make a risk calculation, same with Google, Facebook, etc. This is why financial institutions have set up secure internal email systems. They assume that outside their smtp servers the risk is 100% for a breach.

mhikl

Ethan,
much better, much clearer, much more useful. Very practical.
Following such rules is safer than dawning blinders in any game.

Namaste,
mhikl

Ethan

As a caveat I do truly believe Apple is mining our data and analyzing stuff that falls outside the “opt-in” guidelines they have.They have plenty of lawyers who they can have drafting legal stances on how they can sidestep their own guidelines. Then they can pull them out if they ever get caught.

I simply do not believe that they are so morally pure that they are willing to give up all that useful user data. In the end they put on a good show but money corrupts. We’ve seen it time and again.

Lee Dronick

As a caveat I do truly believe Apple is mining our data and analyzing stuff that falls outside the ?opt-in? guidelines they have.They have plenty of lawyers who they can have drafting legal stances on how they can sidestep their own guidelines. Then they can pull them out if they ever get caught.

I simply do not believe that they are so morally pure that they are willing to give up all that useful user data. In the end they put on a good show but money corrupts. We?ve seen it time and again.

See this interview with Eric Schmidt and his take on smart phone security.

Ethan

Saw that already. Yes, thats the reality now : the financial benefit to all these companies to cross the privacy line far outweighs any kind of fine they may face for doing it. Better to ask forgiveness than permission…

Nemo

Gentlemen:  Let me offer some facts about Apple that may advance this discussion.  Though Apple charges 30% for apps and the sale of media, Apple does not make much profit on iTunes and on its subsidiary online stores (iTunes Stores), such as the App Store.  I’ve reviewed Apple’s 10K and 10Q reports, and Apple unsurprisingly runs its iTunes Stores at littel better than break-even.  This isn’t surprising, because Apple uses its iTunes Stores to sell its devices, not the other way around.  And because Apple runs its iTunes Stores close to break-even, there is not much money there for anyone, much less consumers, hoping to extract money from Apple for their personal data.  While the iTunes Store help Apple make money from its devices, they are not a big direct profit center for Apple.

The other problem is that, unlike Google and Facebook, Apple does not control or even acquire personal data for the apps on your mobile iOS devices, unless the apps are Apple’s or the purchase is of media content from iTunes.  Under Apple’s rules, the developer much obtain your informed consent to acquire and use your personal data, and it is developer of the app who gets your personal data, if you consent, so Apple isn’t getting most of your personal data and, therefore, isn’t generating most of the revenue from personal data.  And thus, Apple couldn’t pay its users’ personal data with revenues from that date which it doesn’t earn.

The same is true for iAds, with Apple getting a cut but not the personal data, which once again goes to the developer provided that you have given your consent.

And is Apple just like Google and Facebook and their ilk?  No, it is not for two reasons.  First, Steve Jobs could not be more different from senior leadership of Google, Facebook, and most other companies on the Web with ad-supported business models, when it comes to privacy.  As we all know, Jobs highly values privacy, and seems to require that Apple’s privacy policy reflects how he would want his private data handled, subject only to necessary compromises with developers and business partners, so as not to impair Apple’s business prospects.  However, even with that qualification, Apple at least and, as far as I can tell, uniquely among for-profit companies requires that developers obtain a user’s informed consent to acquire and use his personal data, and does so individually for each app.

Second, Jobs’ virtue is reinforced and enabled by Apple’s very different business model.  See http://precursorblog.com/content/google-vs-apple-how-business-models-drive-disrespect-vs-respect-privacy.  Apple’s makes its money, unlike Google and Facebook, not by giving services in exchange for customers/users’ personal data, but by selling devices and services that people want and are willing to pay money for.  The now famous saying on the Internet, to the effect that if you aren’t paying for the service, you are the commodity being sole, applies here.  Apple charges money for its stuff, whereas Google and Facebook’s price for what they provide is your personal data.  Therefore, Apple, because it makes its money by charging money for what it provides, does not, unlike Google and its ilk, acquire or needs to acquire its customers’ personal data in exchange for its goods and services to make a profit. 

However, Apple does make use of some personal data from its own apps or from its iTunes Stores to, as Apple would put it, provide enhancement to certain services, such as recommending music to iTunes’ customers.  However, Apple does not share that data with others.

Will it always be thus with Apple?  I hope so, but people are always such suckers for free that Apple will have to continue to make things that people want enough to pay a price that is commensurate with top quality, for we never want to come to the day when Apple is offering less than top quality.

Ethan

Nemo - your opinion of Steve jobs is nice but its as subjective as mine is. It’s not a fact other than you believe it.  I trust Steve less than the distance I could throw him and I’m not very strong.  Apple is already in two lawsuits for failing to block apps that don’t adhere to their “privacy policy.” They convince people to buy their products because (in part) they protect all the doors (“Apple will protect me”) but then do not actually protect all the doors. What’s the point of a privacy policy if they are not fully enforcing it?  This on top of last years hacking of users accounts for fraudulent purchases. They have issues and their oversight of security/privacy is not where it should be.

In the end if you come to your risk tolerance assessment based on what Steve Jobs “seems” to think about privacy, your already lost. It’s this prevalent sense of “we are safe from the bad stuff because Apple defends me” Apple promotes in it’s users that is a real security threat. If they fail in some way you are toast.

From your link: “In a word, who would you more likely trust with your privacy?” The real answer is neither, you never trust any of them. You choose an acceptable risk level but the idea of trusting any company is just not smart. Look at the Sony Playstation mess as another example of what trust gets you.

By the way-if you opt in to iAd data collection-Apple most definitely IS getting the data:
http://www.directtrafficmedia.co.uk/blog/apple-targets-core-demographics-through-mobile-adverts-67643611840

Not sure I could come up with a dollar amount for how much that data is worth.

Nemo

Dear Ethan:  Apple’s privacy policy is exactly why it can be sued, because its policy actually grants users of its iOS devices some rights over their private data.  Google, Facebook, and their ilk are much more difficult to sue for a privacy violation based on their privacy policies, because their policy don’t grant their respective users any significant rights.  For Google and its ilk, it is essentially a take it or leave it deal with them reserving to themselves the right to use you information as they see fit, cabined only by the slim protections afforded by applicable U.S. and state laws.  Apple goes much further than that with its privacy policy. 

But Apple’s privacy policy has another problem for Apple:  Because it affords some real rights to its users, Apple can be sued and is potentially liable, if a developer violates Apple’s privacy policy.  Now, the suits that you mention are ongoing, and what they’ll will reveal is undetermined.  However, neither Apple or any company, which must process thousands of apps per day can perfectly enforce a privacy policy that affords real rights, and the legal standard won’t be perfect enforcement.  Provided that Apple has been reasonable diligent in enforcing its privacy policy, that is all the law is likely to ask of it.  So unless Apple hasn’t been reasonably diligent in enforcing it privacy policy or otherwise wrongful in its conduct, its prospects for defending those lawsuits should be good. 

But more to the point for our discussion, there is no evidence that I am aware of that Apple isn’t being reasonably diligent in enforcing its privacy policy, and until there is some such evidence, something more than your calumnious insinuations, Apple can’t be charged with fraud or hypocrisy in promulgating one of the better privacy policies in commerce, yet not enforcing it.

Since you couldn’t refute that Apple’s business model, as I described it supra, and as distinct from the business models of Google, Facebook, and their ilk, removes from Apple any commercial pressure or need to take and misuse its customers private data, you take a quote from my citation out of context to completely misrepresent what the writer said.  The writer’s true view is that Apple’s business model permits and enables it to respect its customers’ privacy, while the business models of Google and Facebook and others like them require them to disregard and disrespect their customers’ privacy as far as the law will permit, and today that is pretty damn far.  However, notwithstanding that Apple’s business model permits Apple to respect its customers’ privacy, the writer warns in the language that you quote that we should never trust others with our privacy, especially not for-profit enterprises.  I don’t take issue with that. 

For those who want to read for themselves just how utterly misleading your quote is, I once again cite the article: http://precursorblog.com/content/google-vs-apple-how-business-models-drive-disrespect-vs-respect-privacy.

Finally, I did mention that Apple does uses its customers’ data from its app and its iTunes Stores, and I gave an example of that use, which is very similar to the type of use noted in the article that you cited.  Apple’s belief, that its particular use of that data better adapts its services and products to its customers needs and desires, is not prima facie unreasonable, though in practice it could certainly be abused and is what even Facebook and Google say they do.  What distinguishes Apple is that it, unlike Google, Facebook, and their ilk, does not share that information with others, which is a major advantage in protecting its customers’ privacy.  Whether Apple’s use of private data is in any instance abusive is a question of fact.  I’ve never found it to be so, while I have found Google’s use of my private data to be abusive, so much so that we don’t permit its use for professional matters.

And none of the foregoing—Apple’s different business model that permits respect for privacy; that it doesn’t share the personal data which it does collect; that it has one of the best privacy policies in the business—depends at all on my view of Mr. Jobs’ high respect for privacy.  What establishes that my view of Mr. Jobs is correct is the only thing that really matters, which are Apple’s actions in respecting and protecting its users’ privacy.  Those actions have spoken so loudly to demonstrate that Apple, unlike Google, Facebook, and their ilk, has at least a decent respect for its customers’ privacy that what Steve Jobs believe about privacy and what I think about his beliefs on privacy matter only in that Apple’s actions to respect and promote its customers’ privacy confirm them.

Ethan

“Since you couldn?t refute that Apple?s business model, as I described it supra, and as distinct from the business models of Google”

I never said they don’t make money from selling products. I said that user data is incredibly valuable to companies, I personally do not trust Apple/SJ (just like I don’t trust Google, Facebook, MS, etc). I was not misleading with the quote-I was pointing out that the final question presented by the author is a non starter when speaking of security (Maybe it was done for creative impact for the end of the post. I get that but it’s still not the right question ) I expect anyone who cares about this thread to go read your link and then see my point in context to the author’s last question. In security world you trust no one. I spend everyday developing training for companies to drill that point through their employees heads.

In regards to the iAds here is what you said: “The same is true for iAds, with Apple getting a cut but not the personal data, which once again goes to the developer provided that you have given your consent.” Actually Apple does get the personal data that it then studies. It says it scrubs the data first, well so does Google. I choose to come from a view point that neither do and make my risk assessment from there.

Nemo, when dealing with security you can’t sit around trusting everyone and waiting for a court case to prove something one way or the other. In many industries (that I work for) that will lead to security breaches/fines/suits and expensive legal bills. You have to come from a rather controlled paranoia point of view. It is a sad way to live but thats the world we have. And since our society likes to sue, companies need to protect themselves. In my non legal view it’s opposite of what your used to in the legal world-innocent until proven guilty. In mine it’s dangerous until proven an acceptable risk.

“However, neither Apple or any company, which must process thousands of apps per day can perfectly enforce a privacy policy that affords real rights, and the legal standard won?t be perfect enforcement.  Provided that Apple has been reasonable diligent in enforcing its privacy policy, that is all the law is likely to ask of it.”

On a personal user point : maybe Apple can’t be sued because it’s not negligence (those court cases will probably help figure out that question). That does not help the users whose privacy/security is broken-to them the result is a 100% failure (for Apple it’s probably less than a fraction of a percent). Their toothpaste is already out of the tube. That’s the crux of my whole point here. Users need to be proactive in their own security and be very careful in their risk assessment BEFORE they become a victim. If you run a business on those services then even more so. You may be one of the next “too small a number to worry about” security breach victims. Don’t be mindless about it, research it yourself and avoid the marketing hype.

Maybe this is a nuanced argument from me (trust vs risk assessment) for this site as many here do put a lot of trust into Apple (and in my view too readily). Yet I think it’s an important mental adjustment that we need to take as more and more data is online.

wab95

Ethan:

I don’t think anyone involved in data security would take issue with your premise that you are primarily responsible for the security of your data, or that protection, even by professionals, is imperfect. Even Apple recommend that you take additional steps to safeguard your own data. No one, then, should cede security of their data entirely to a third party. However, Nemo is right to take issue with your making an absolute from a statement of relative comparisons, “...who would you more likely trust with your privacy?A company you don’t pay at all, or a company that you pay a lot?”. Quite a different proposition than the one you posed as a follow-on,  ?we are safe from the bad stuff because Apple defends me?. Perhaps you did not understand Scott Cleland’s point, which is better than the alternative, but neither he nor Nemo suggested entirely trusting the security of your data to a third party. In fact, I’m reasonably certain that none of the regulars to this website would make such an argument.

But that is only one of two thought threads in your argument (trust no one with your data). Agreed. It is the second thread, however, that is more problematic.

Actually Apple does get the personal data that it then studies


This goes beyond simply being imperfect at protecting your data, but alleges what sounds like a wilful and deliberate breach of privacy. I would be grateful if you could tell me what is your evidence, or information source, that Apple ‘studies your personal data’, and if you could specify what personal data they study.

archimedes

John, I understand what you’re saying - free services and software from Google, Facebook, etc. aren’t really free, and may not be worth the price we pay by giving up privacy and having personal information sold to advertisers.

The title of the article mystifies me, however.

Could you explain more clearly what day was “the day software changed forever,” and how exactly did software change?

ethan

“Rachel Pasqua, director of digital marketing firm iCrossing, highlighted the impressive wealth of behavioural and buying pattern data available to the company: “Apple knows what you’ve downloaded, how much time you spend interacting with applications and knows even what you’ve downloaded, don’t like and deleted.”

Apple have already used this information for specific advert campaigns. For example, Apple and Unilever will be using iAd to home in on married men who have children and are in their late 30s to target them with the new Dove Men+Care soap. “

http://www.directtrafficmedia.co.uk/blog/apple-targets-core-demographics-through-mobile-adverts-67643611840


should have typed “user/use” data vs “personal” data when I typed this:

“Actually Apple does get the personal data that it then studies”
That was my bad.

Maybe I needed to parse Nemo’s words more precisely. The gist of what I was saying was if you opt in, do not think that your use data is not being collected and not being analyzed (which brings up the discussion of is use/behavior data also personal data-for another day i suppose). It has to study the data to produce the reports/metrics/demographics in relation to selling ads. If it didn’t collect it why have an opt out anyways?A reading of Nemo’s quote was to me promoting an idea that Apple is out of the loop on it’s own iAd tracking data. They need that data. Itunes account activity only goes so far in regards to demographics info.

“we are safe from the bad stuff because Apple defends me”

First that was not a direct reference to that linked article. full quote:
“It?s this prevalent sense of ?we are safe from the bad stuff because Apple defends me? Apple promotes in it?s users that is a real security threat. If they fail in some way you are toast.”

In general it often feels across the mac universe online (not contained to just Mac Observer or that linked article but all the news sites and forums) that there is a mentality of Apple products will protect me from-viruses, trojans, malware. I hear all the time from friends who want my help switching to a mac and are perplexed when I tell them they need to have antivirus, firewall and (when on an open wifi) a vpn connection. Some of them choose not to spend the cash when I explained that Apple does not equal safe.

Some links on current security landscape for Mac. Lots of links inside these which are interesting for the security minded.

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott/why-malware-for-macs-is-on-its-way/3243?tag=mantle_skin;content
Awareness recognition and thoughtful risk assessment is your best defense.

Apple to their credit has stepped up with a external audit for Lion: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-20036218-83.html why this has not happened in the previous releases is beyond me. Apple has a hard road ahead as they have never been such a juicy target due to their previous low numbers.

wab95

should have typed ?user/use? data vs ?personal? data when I typed this:

?Actually Apple does get the personal data that it then studies?
That was my bad

Fair enough, just wanted to be clear.

Maybe I needed to parse Nemo?s words more precisely

Nemo has a keen, analytical mind, and a quick repost; advice well worth taking to heart. At the same, I think most people who post here are willing to give the benefit of the doubt when there appear to be misunderstandings of intent; that they are just that, misunderstandings and not an attempt to misrepresent another’s viewpoint. In any case, diversity of opinion, second only to human genius itself, is a driver of human progress; and far from being a threat, is a thing to be welcomed and embraced.

About diversity of opinion, your point about malware protection, etc is a good one, and an understandable point of frustration. I do think that the prevalence of complacency in the Appleverse is waning, and that of antimalware use is on the increase. Most Mac users I know personally use some form of internet security software.

Any system can be hacked; trojans can be written for any OS, and now there are kits designed to develop malware for the Mac. In my own professional world, I interact with enough Windows users that I feel it good neighbourly policy to police my system for Windows viruses/malware as well, simply not to pass them along in attachments.

Many thanks for the clarifications.

Nemo

Ethan:  Let me attempt to clarify my remarks, supra.  I wrote, supra, that Apple does collect data from its apps and its services.  I think that must be read to include iAds, which is Apple’s app, but, if that was not clear, let me make it clear:  Yes, Apple collects personal data from iAds, provided you opt-in.  Not only does Apple collect that personal data, but since iAds is almost always included in an app, if one grants that app permission to collect certain of your personal data for certain purposes, then I imagine, though I don’t know, that combination of app and iAd collects personal data for the developer of the app, as well as Apple. 

If you don’t like, then don’t opt-in.  However, that may result in the app not working.

ethan

Nemo, much clearer on the iAds point.

Just for clarity for other readers: “If you don?t like, then don?t opt-in.”

As far as I know the default is opt-in, you actively have to choose to opt-out of the tracking by going here on your iOS device:

https://oo.apple.com/

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