Followups: Tim Cook’s Magnum Opus (Four Rights and Wrongs)

The following highlights provided by Annotote: Don’t waste time and attention, get straight to the point. All signal. No noise.

Antitrust Is Tech’s Endgame

by Annotote TLDR 2017.05.01

The real story about Apple and the Paradise Papers (Parts I-III)

by Annotote TLDR 2017.11.07

Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, and Other Weakest Links: The many failures by many players throughout the app ecosystem

by Adventures in Consumer Technology 2018.03.26

The Power of the Narrative

by Annotote TLDR 2018.07.03

Of Chinese Walls and Tech’s Principal-Agent Problem: When Platforms Exploit Platform Risk

by Adventures in Consumer Technology 2018.09.25

Proposal: Comprehensive privacy legislation for US Congress (OpEd)

by Tim Cook (Apple CEO) 2018.10.24

Right now, all of these secondary markets for your information exist in a shadow economy that’s largely unchecked — out of sight of consumers, regulators and lawmakers. Let’s be clear: you never signed up for that…

[T]he Federal Trade Commission should establish a data-broker clearinghouse, requiring all data brokers to register, enabling consumers to track the transactions that have bundled and sold their data from place to place, and giving users the power to delete their data on demand, freely, easily and online, once and for all.

Apple’s Chinese Wall of Worry: App Store Impunity and Vertical Foreclosure

by Adventures in Consumer Technology 2018.12.03

Apple Was Slow to Act on FaceTime Bug That Allows Spying on iPhones

by The New York Times 2019.01.29

The bug, and Apple’s slow response to patching it, have renewed concerns about the company’s commitment to security, even though it regularly advertises its bug reward program and boasts about the safety of its products. Hours before Apple’s statement addressing the bug Monday, Tim Cook, the company’s chief executive, tweeted that “we all must insist on action and reform for vital privacy protections.”

Privacy advocates and lawmakers say Apple is an ally in name only on tightening privacy laws

by The Washington Post 2019.07.15

Lawmakers want [Apple’s] talk to turn into action. As states introduce privacy legislation, the tech giant is either absent from those efforts or backs industry groups that actively lobby against them… On the issue of privacy, Apple itself has helped create sky-high expectations with its public pronouncements. For months, it has been running advertisements touting its privacy bona fides…

[For example, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)] noted that Apple hasn’t signed on to privacy legislation that other companies, such as Web browser DuckDuckGo, have supported, including an amendment to the new California law that prevents consumer data collection by default and gives citizens the right to sue tech companies for violations.

Siri, Privacy, and Trust

by Daring Fireball/John Gruber 2019.08.16

This is a privacy fiasco, and a betrayal of Siri users’ trust. [Apple] were keeping copies with identifying information for six months. This defies everyone’s expectations of privacy for a voice assistant…

If I graded Apple on the privacy and trust implications of this, I’d give them an F. I don’t think it’s debatable whether users of any voice assistant should have their recordings listened to or even reviewed (in text form) by human employees without their express consent. But especially users of Siri, given Apple’s prominent position as a privacy focused company. Apple literally advertises on the basis of its user-focused privacy policies — but apparently the billboards should have read “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone, except for some of your Siri recordings, which we listen to”…

We should expect Apple to lead the industry on this front, but in fact, they’re far behind.

Facebook’s data abuse bug bounty program is a good solution for enlisting security experts, hobbyists, and users to sniff-out data privacy abuses

by TechCrunch 2019.08.19

Facebook is expanding its data abuse bug bounty to Instagram. [It] first rolled out its data abuse bounty in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal…

The idea was that security researchers and platform users alike could report instances of third-party apps or companies that were scraping, collecting and selling Facebook data for other purposes, such as to create voter profiles or build vast marketing lists.

Apple caved to pressure from US government, law enforcement, and intelligence, quietly deciding not to provide an encrypted option for iCloud backups — defying its own privacy narrative

by John Gruber (Daring Fireball) 2020.01.20

[Reuters reported that in 2017] “Apple Inc. dropped plans to let iPhone users fully encrypt backups of their devices in the company’s iCloud service after the FBI complained that the move would harm investigations [which] shows how much Apple has been willing to help U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies, despite taking a harder line in high-profile legal disputes with the government and casting itself as a defender of its customers’ information”…

If that is the case — that Apple’s legal department killed the project to avoid “poking the bear” — then it’s ultimately irrelevant whether Apple briefed the FBI in advance or not. It’s acquiescence, and users will be left unprotected. Not just in the U.S., where the FBI has jurisdiction, but everywhere in the world where encryption is legal… This isn’t about Apple foiling law enforcement. It isn’t about Apple helping criminals. It’s about Apple enabling its customers to own and control their own data [as, surprisingly, Google/Android have].

As things stand, if you use iCloud backup, you do not own and control the data therein.In fact, it’s so contrary to Apple’s stance as The Privacy Company that I’ve already heard from several tech-savvy users today, in the wake of Reuters’s report, that they had assumed until now that their iCloud backups were encrypted.

The Paywalled Garden: iOS is Adware

by Steve Streza 2020.02.17

But to [grow its vaunted Services narrative], Apple has resorted to insidious tactics to get those people: ads. Lots and lots of ads, on devices that you pay for. iOS 13 has an abundance of ads from Apple marketing Apple services, from the moment you set it up and all throughout the experience. These ads cannot be hidden through the iOS content blocker extension system. Some can be dismissed or hidden, but most cannot, and are purposefully designed into core apps like Music and the App Store. There’s a term to describe software that has lots of unremovable ads: adware, which what iOS has sadly become.

If you don’t subscribe to these services, you’ll be forced to look at these ads constantly, either in the apps you use or the push notifications they have turned on by default. The pervasiveness of ads in iOS is a topic largely unexplored, perhaps due to these services having a lot of adoption among the early adopter crowd that tends to discuss Apple and their design.

How Apple uses anti-competitive practices to extort developers and support authoritarian regimes

by ProtonMail 2020.06.22

Following years of advertising itself as a company that puts users first, Apple has increasingly aligned itself with oppressive governments and curtailed digital freedom. There was a time when Apple portrayed itself as a rebellious alternative to giants like Microsoft. Today, Apple has become a monopoly, crushing potential competitors with exploitative fees and conducting censorship on behalf of dictators…

As we know from any mafia trial, the absence of witnesses willing to take the stand does not imply there was no crime, it only serves to highlight the power of the accused. By taking the stand today, we want to clearly refute Apple’s claim that only a “handful of companies” are objecting to these practices…

Even though ProtonVPN had been in the App Store since 2018 and the basic functionality of our VPN has not changed, Apple abruptly rejected the new app version and threatened to remove ProtonVPN entirely. They demanded that we remove this language around anti-censorship on the grounds that freedom of speech is severely limited in some countries. The options are comply or be removed from the App Store.

It is true that in countries around the world, such as China, South Sudan, and Saudi Arabia, freedom of speech is indeed severely limited, and thousands of activists have been killed or imprisoned for expressing themselves. However, by conceding to tyrants and enforcing the lowest common denominator, Apple is ignoring internationally recognized human rights and forfeiting progress we all enjoy and which activists have paid for with their lives.

Under shareholder pressure, Apple quietly publishes its human rights policy based on UN guiding principles, but will follow national law if the two conflict

by The Financial Times (FT) 2020.09.04

[F]ollowing years of criticism that it bows to demands from Beijing and carries out censorship in mainland China, Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong… Apple’s board of directors approved the policy and quietly published it ahead of a deadline of September 5 for shareholders to submit motions for next year’s investor meeting… seven months after two-fifths of its shareholders defied management and supported a SumOfUs proposal that would have compelled it to uphold freedom of expression globally. Apple had tried to strike the proposal from the agenda but was denied by the US Securities and Exchange Commission…

The four-page document, cited here for the first time, tries to walk a fine line between upholding human rights while conceding that Apple is “required to comply with local laws” in authoritarian countries… “Where national law and international human rights standards differ, we follow the higher standard. Where they are in conflict, we respect national law while seeking to respect the principles of internationally recognised human rights.”

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