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The Independent on Apple and Privacy

Andrew Griffin, in a lengthy piece for The Independent:

“Privacy cannot be a luxury good offered only to people who can afford to buy premium products and services,” Pichai wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times. He didn’t name Apple, but he didn’t need to.

Pichai argued that the collection of data helps make technology affordable, echoing a sentiment often heard about Apple, that their commitment to privacy is only possible because their products are expensive and it can afford to take such a position. Having a more lax approach to privacy helps keep the products made by almost all of the biggest technology products [sic] in the world — from Google to Instagram — free, at least at the point of use.

“I don’t buy into the luxury good dig,” says Federighi, giving the impression he was genuinely surprised by the public attack.

“It’s on the one hand gratifying that other companies in space [sic] over the last few months, seemed to be making a lot of positive noises about caring about privacy. I think it’s a deeper issue than what a couple of months and a couple of press releases would make. I think you’ve got to look fundamentally at company cultures and values and business model. And those don’t change overnight.”

Griffin’s piece is an interesting read, and he was granted rare access to Apple’s testing facilities, but I think it’s a little all over the place, bouncing back and forth between security issues (testing Apple designed chips in extreme temperatures) and privacy issues. I think the above is the main point though — Google and Facebook are both pushing back against Apple, arguing that Apple’s stance on privacy is only possible because they charge a lot of money for their products.

I think the point that needs to be made is that free and low-cost products can be subsidized by privacy-respecting advertising — but privacy-respecting advertising is not as profitable as privacy-invasive advertising, as exemplified on Facebook and Google’s humongous platforms.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019