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The One Major Tech Company that Actually Gives a Hoot About Privacy

How Apple Has Been Valuing People’s Privacy After All of the Privacy Scandals

NOTE: This information is no longer relevant as of macOS Big Sur because Apple now has a service where they send every application you run to Apple’s servers along with your IP, and even circumvents VPN servers. It seems as Apple no longer cares about its users’ privacy. The service can be disabled, but it’s opt-out instead of opt-in, which is still a problem. However, a total opt-out is still better than what Windows offers.

Recently, I have been working on implementing a new computer into my supercomputer. It was an iMac. I decided to keep macOS on there, as I didn’t expect to have to run any servers. During that time, I have noticed that Apple clearly stated where they would mine your data and always gave you the option to opt-out. They would put this icon anywhere where they extracted your data:

The Apple Privacy Icon
The Apple Privacy Icon

I found this interesting because Windows does not do this. If anything, they might put tiny text at the bottom of the screen that tells you that they mine your data here.

Things Apple Did to Protect Privacy

There are a few things that Apple did to protect users ‘privacy:

  1. They blocked cross-site trackers in Safari
  2. They enable users to not link themselves to an Apple ID (Windows now forces new users on new computers to connect to a Microsoft Account)
  3. The Privacy Icon
  4. Apple Maps doesn’t include Location History anymore
  5. Messages uses encryption, and Apple cannot see it.
  6. Photos Machine Learning is done directly on your device, instead of on their servers.

I will go through each of these things and what they mean.

Trackers in Safari

Here at Info Toast, we’re not a fan of trackers. The only tracker we use is Google Analytics. And we use Google Analytics to collect data anonymously so that we can improve our articles. Safari will block cross-site trackers, meaning it will block cookies that allow sites to see where you have been.

A Diagram of How Tracking Cookies Work
Diagram Credit to odosta.com

Enabling Users Not to Link Themselves to an Apple ID

Recently, Microsoft did an evil thing. I was at work, installing Windows onto a computer. We found when trying to create the user account that you had to link the account to a Microsoft account. This meant that you couldn’t create the account without a Microsoft account linked to it (so they can track you). Windows 10 has trackers all over it. This is because Microsoft decided to make Windows 10 free, meaning they could only make money by collecting information on users and turning it into Ads.

The Privacy Icon

We talked about this icon already; it’s mainly a transparency thing. It means even people who don’t understand technology can understand that they are being tracked.

Apple Maps Doesn’t Include Location History Anymore

This is a big deal. This means that Apple can’t track where you have been recently.

Messages Encryption

I’m not sure if this encryption is end-to-end or not. I do know that Apple cannot see it. However, the government may. They were somewhat vague about it. However, I am less worried about the government getting my data than a large company, as large companies will sell the data. The government will just make sure I’m not doing anything illegal.

The Messages Icon
The Messages Icon. Image credit to MacWorld

Photos Machine Learning is Done On Device

This is a pretty big deal too. One way that companies will get you is that they act like the Machine Learning algorithm is too large to be handled on your device, so it’s sent to their servers instead. However, most of the time, Machine Learning is fine being done on your device. Apple recognizes this and doesn’t send your photos to their servers. This means that they are not mined for data.

The Caveat

I find it essential that Apple will still do things to extract your data. Linux is way more secure than Apple. So if you are somebody who is targeted, I always recommend you use a Linux computer instead of a Mac. However, for somebody like me who is not necessarily targeted, but still cares about their data, Apple is a little better than Windows.

Why Is Apple Able to Take This Stand

Google and Microsoft have gotten into a bit of a pickle. Google has been in this pickle since the beginning because they are a web service. However, Microsoft had gotten into this pickle when they made Windows 10 free. If you have free software and still want to make money off of it, the only way to get money is to mine people’s data. One should never trust software that is free but not open-source. If something is free but not open-source, that thing most likely extracts your data or is a virus.

Apple has a different business model. Apple sells products. They sell Macs. They sell iPhones. And you can’t get macOS on a computer other than a Mac. Apple’s movies, music, etc. services are usually paid for. They are unlike Hulu or Netflix, where you pay them a certain amount of money, and you have full access to everything. And because of that, they mine your data and sell it for ad revenue. However, people pay for Apple media by the movie, or by the TV show, or by the album. This means they don’t have to mine your data.

Frank

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