Look For Apple to Make Life More Difficult for Apps That Violate Privacy

2 minute read
| Editorial


Apple has the power to wisely clamp down on apps that clearly violate our trust and privacy. Look for life to get more difficult for developers who misbehave.

A perfect example of this is provided by a planned change to iOS 13. “Apple Just Dealt A Major Blow To Facebook With This New IOS Feature.”

In the interest of privacy, Apple’s updated version of its [iOS] operating system will not let apps run voice over internet protocol (VoIP) in the background when programs are not actively in use, according to news site The Information.

Kate O’Flaherty at Forbes explains.

Because it will no longer allow apps such as Facebook and WhatsApp to do this on devices such as iPhones and iPads, the move will mark a major change in how they are run. In fact, they will need to be rewritten in order to comply with Apple’s new rules by the time iOS 13 comes out this September.

Protecting the Customer

Developers and some litigious minded people might consider this an intrusion by Apple, but I see it as basically a safety issue.For example, many consumer products, such as car baby seats, baby carriages, child toys, etc., must be deemed safe and comply with U.S. federal regulations. Home electrical wiring must be installed by licensed electrician and meet code. That’s so homes don’t burn down or electrocute people. Apple is doing the same thing, even as there are few comprehensive, related regulations in the tech sector in the U.S.

Given that iPhones and iPads are often used by novices or the very young, no one is in a better position than Apple engineers to diagnose an app that purports to provide some innocent sounding service, but then digs around for ways to steal personal information, listen in, or with malicious intent, track and monitor the user’s activities and locations.

Apple saw this coming years ago when it designed iOS and started folding related technologies into macOS.

But, as Lord Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Apple must continue to act responsibly and stay ahead in the conversation, clearly conveying why it takes these kinds of actions. That’s because there are powerful competitors who would be happy to make Apple look like an evil overlord.

Even as that happens, I trust Apple more than any other company to protect my privacy and security. In order to place that trust in Apple, I must also be willing to accept limits or compromises in what (I think) I can do. No app service is so overwhelmingly important that it deserves free reign, and customers must ever be mindful of better, safer—if inconvenient—ways to do many things as an alternative.

The road to disaster is to believe that offers of app services are never too good to be true. Apple, so far, has been our trusted companion in saving us from ourselves. Expect restrictions to become more severe.

And just smile.

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