Don't believe the hype - Apple doesn't care about your privacy - The UpStream

Don't believe the hype - Apple doesn't care about your privacy

posted Friday Jan 24, 2020 by Scott Ertz

Don't believe the hype - Apple doesn't care about your privacy

For the past few years, Apple has constantly talked about their focus on privacy and security. However, their behavior has inconsistently lined up with that claim. Sure, they very publicly denied the FBI's request to decrypt an iPhone that could have contained information about the San Bernadino shooting. The company claimed that once a process for decrypting a device existed, it was a bottle that couldn't be recorked. They also pointed out that the device was encrypted because they made a mistake.

On the other hand, the company recently announced during their first appearance at CES in decades, ironically during a privacy roundtable, that iCloud device backups were not encrypted and, in fact, the company regularly scans those backups. While they tried to justify the behavior by hiding behind the auspices of looking for child exploitation content, it doesn't change the fact that the company is scanning your files. Technologically, for Apple to be able to scan for any particular content, they have to create an index of all of the searchable content. That means that they are indexing your emails, photos, files, and more, whether you like it or not.

It is important to note that the argument made, searching for child exploitation content, is the same argument regularly made by the Justice Department when they talk about wanting to outlaw encryption. This is important to note because a new report from Reuters suggests that the company had been working on encrypting device backups but abandoned them because of a complaint from the FBI. The complaint was that encrypting the data on the device and the cloud would place Apple in violation of warrants, especially in cases of "national security" are in question. Of course, a lack of encryption also led to Apple being able to scan and index your data, as well.

This is far from the first time a technology company has lied about its commitment to user privacy. We do live in the age of Facebook, after all. However, the idea that Apple markets itself as a guardian of user privacy and violates it every day is wrong and potential liability for the company.

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