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Today: Why you shouldn't trust Apple
The two-trillion dollar company in Cupertino, California is hungry for more growth at any cost. Recent news shows what Apple is willing to do – like surveilling iPhone users without their knowledge or consent, doing shady deals with the Chinese Communist Party, and more. On this episode, all the reasons to “avoid Apple.”
Profiting from Google’s surveillance
• Google Will Continue to Pay Apple Billions to Keep You From Using... Bing? (Gizmodo, Aug 26, 2021): "Google is expected to fork over $15 billion to Apple this year to keep its search engine the default on Safari."
Defending (and denying) its monopoly
• (From the June 20, 2022 show) – About Tim Cook: Tim Apple Takes On Washington (Politico, June 10, 2022): “Apple CEO Tim Cook took his charm offensive to Capitol Hill on Thursday, holding meetings with senators on both sides of the aisle to discuss a host of pet issues — especially the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (S. 2992), the tech antitrust legislation that could receive a vote in the upper chamber as soon as this summer. Cook’s Hill meetings are only the latest effort by Apple to deploy its CEO’s star power to wreck the bill’s prospects. He also called members of the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year ahead of the markup of both S. 2992 and the Open App Markets Act (S. 2710). Passage of either bill could fundamentally alter Apple’s business model.”
Growing ad business
• Compare all news below with this clip of Steve Jobs speaking about privacy and Apple (from D8 conference, June 2010)
• Apple Is an Ad Company Now (Wired UK, Oct 20, 2022): “Apple has sold ads inside Apple News and the App Store since 2016 but in recent months has shown a new determination to muscle into an industry dominated by Google, Meta, and Amazon. In June, Apple expanded the ways companies could pay to get in front of its customers’ eyeballs, allowing them to buy ads on the front page of the App Store. In August, Apple job postings suggested it was building a self-service platform for businesses to book ads to be served to customers through Apple products. This month, reports surfaced that Apple was courting potential buyers for ads on Apple TV+.”
• Apple is becoming an ad company despite privacy claims (Proton blog, Nov 24, 2022): “Apple’s advertising operation follows the surveillance capitalism model of its rivals, using data it collects from various Apple services and your Apple account to show you ads in the App Store as well as its News and Stocks apps. Notably, these are all platforms or services that Apple has complete control over, allowing it to lock out its competitors. Apple currently brings in roughly $4 billion from advertising and is forecasted to bring in as much as $30 billion by 2026. While these amounts are an order of magnitude smaller than the $210 billion Google made from its ad services, they represent a change in philosophy for Apple, which only earned around $300 million for ads in 2017.”
“Apple monitors your every move in the App Store and its News and Stocks apps and then uses that data to sell ads targeting you in those same apps. To meet its growth forecasts, experts expect Apple to start selling ads in its Maps, Podcast, and Books apps, meaning it could replicate this model across more of its services. Much more of your activity could be monitored in the future. You can disable ad personalization on your iPhone. However, this doesn’t prevent the App Store or News and Stocks apps from collecting and using your data, nor does it prevent Apple from using other information it has on you, such as your network provider or device type, for ads.”
“This all might seem surprising given Apple’s various claims about privacy, “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone”, and ATT. However, ATT targeted a very specific niche of data collection. An app only needs to ask your permission to collect data if it has trackers that follow you outside the app onto another app or website. ATT doesn’t prevent companies from monitoring your activity within an app and collecting that data, like Apple does with the App Store and its News and Stocks apps. “
...(below, on Apple’s redefinition of privacy)....
“Unfortunately, this is another example of Big Tech introducing privacy measures that prevent competitors from accessing your data so that it can keep it all for itself. To these companies, privacy means ‘no one can access your information but us.’”
• Apple Is Tracking You Even When Its Own Privacy Settings Say It’s Not, New Research Says (Gizmodo, Nov 8, 2022): “An independent test suggests Apple collects data about you and your phone when its own settings promise to ‘disable the sharing of Device Analytics altogether.’”
“. . . The iPhone Analytics setting makes an explicit promise. Turn it off, and Apple says that it will ‘disable the sharing of Device Analytics altogether.’ However, Tommy Mysk and Talal Haj Bakry, two app developers and security researchers at the software company Mysk, took a look at the data collected by a number of Apple iPhone apps—the App Store, Apple Music, Apple TV, Books, and Stocks. They found the analytics control and other privacy settings had no obvious effect on Apple’s data collection—the tracking remained the same whether iPhone Analytics was switched on or off.”
. . . “Privacy is one of the main issues that Apple uses to set its products apart from competitors. It emblazoned 40-foot billboards of the iPhone with the simple slogan “Privacy. That’s iPhone.” and ran the ads across the world for months. But the company is slowly introducing many of the internet’s privacy issues into the once sacrosanct Apple ecosystem. Apple is working hard to build an advertising empire. Apple’s ad network runs on your personal information just like the ones Google and Meta operate, albeit in a more reserved way. Along the way, Apple developed a very convenient definition of what privacy means that lets the company criticize its rivals’ privacy practices while harvesting your data for similar purposes.”
• Apple Sued for Allegedly Deceiving Users With Privacy Settings After Gizmodo Story (Gizmodo, Nov 11, 2022): "Apple is facing a class action lawsuit for allegedly harvesting iPhone user data even when the company’s own privacy settings promise not to. The suit, filed Thursday in California federal court, comes days after Gizmodo exclusively reported on research into how multiple iPhone apps send Apple analytics data, regardless of whether the iPhone Analytics privacy setting is turned on or off."
• Apple Says Your iPhone's Usage Data is Anonymous, but New Tests Say That's Not True (Gizmodo, Nov 21, 2022): "The findings are especially damning given the years Apple spent rebranding itself as a privacy company. Apple’s recent marketing campaigns suggest the company’s privacy practices are supposed to be far better than other tech companies. It emblazoned 40-foot billboards of the iPhone with the simple "
Harming users for ad money
• Apple developers are frustrated with gambling ads appearing across the App Store (The Verge, Oct 26, 2022): “Gambling app ads have even started showing up beneath apps meant to help users recover from a gambling addiction.” ... and soon after, Apple pauses App Store gambling ads after developer outcry (The Verge, Oct 26, 2022): “It’s unclear if [Apple] will actually address the the issue, or just wait for the smoke to blow over.”
Helping Russia and China suppress democracy and worker rights
• Apple and Google Pull Opposition App From Russian Stores Following Kremlin Pressure (Gizmodo, Sep 17, 2021): “The world’s two most powerful tech companies have kowtowed to Putin’s regime, it seems. On Friday morning, Bloomberg reported that Google and Apple have removed longtime opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s voter guide app from the App Store and Google Play store in Russia. Activists have charged the companies with bowing to Kremlin pressure. The Russian parliamentary elections began today and last through Sunday.”
• Workers Battle Police at China's Main iPhone Plant Amid Protests (Gizmodo, Nov 23, 2022): “Reports say that factory staff have been beaten and detained after protesting covid conditions and lies about pay. . . . AP cited a worker at the plant named Li Sanshan who said he had been promised 25,000 yuan, or $3,500 for two months work at the factory, but then Foxconn reportedly flipped the script and told workers they would need to do an extra two months at lower pay to receive that initial promised amount.”
• 7 Apple suppliers in China have links to forced labor programs, including the use of Uyghur Muslims from Xinjiang, according to a new report (by Katie Canales in Insider, May 10, 2021): covers a report by The Information (behind paywall)
• Censorship, Surveillance and Profits: A Hard Bargain for Apple in China (by Jack Nicas, Raymond Zhong and Daisuke Wakabayashi, NYT, May 17, 2021): "Apple [is] preparing to store the personal data of its Chinese customers on computer servers run by a state-owned Chinese firm." ... "A Times analysis found that tens of thousands of apps have disappeared from Apple’s Chinese App Store over the past several years, more than previously known, including foreign news outlets, gay dating services and encrypted messaging apps. It also blocked tools for organizing pro-democracy protests and skirting internet restrictions, as well as apps about the Dalai Lama."
• (repeating from the Nov 14 show) Apple Limits iPhone File-Sharing Tool Used for Protests in China (Bloomberg, Nov 9, 2022): “iOS 16.1.1, released Wednesday, caps the window in which users can receive files from non-contacts at 10 minutes. . . . Apple made the change to AirDrop on iPhones sold in China. The shift came after protesters in the country used the service to spread posters opposing Xi Jinping and the Chinese government.”
• Habituation and normalization. Fingerprint readers, and then facial recognition, widely accepted because “we can trust Apple.” Now those intrusions are spreading everywhere.
• An Apple Watch for Your 5-Year-Old? More Parents Say Yes (New York Times, Sep 1, 2022): “The [Apple] smart watch has found an unexpected audience: children as young as 5. . . . Apple has deliberately turned the watch into a device that can be attractive for children and their parents. In 2020, the company released the Apple Watch SE, which had fewer features than a premium model and was priced $120 cheaper. Apple also introduced Family Setup, software that let parents track their children’s locations, manage their contacts list and limit their notifications.”
• Apple is also reportedly working on surveillance glasses.
• The Next Big Battle Between Google and Apple Is for the Soul of Your Car (by Christopher Mims, WSJ, Oct 1, 2022): “In the future, your choice of smartphone ecosystem—Android or iPhone—could determine which make and model of car you choose.” On this topic, Elizabeth Warren writes (Nov 1, 2022): “Big Tech is setting itself up to be a one-stop shop for automakers—for everything from data collection, cloud storage, and analytics to in-car navigation to voice assistants to autonomous driving capabilities. To achieve this dominance, Google, Apple, and Amazon are leveraging their market power . . . to become the dominant players in the automotive sphere. This expansion has potentially alarming implications for developers, workers, and consumers.”
• Apple is rotting. Live Photos shows why (by Mark Hurst, May 20, 2021): “Apple is showing all the signs of a deep corruption. It's not just their cozy relationship with state surveillance actors, or their willful ignorance about forced labor used in their manufacturing, or their tax avoidance in Ireland, or their anticompetitive App Store, or their surveillance-capitalist revenue from Google, or their "gift to stalkers" known as AirTags, or their business model's moral equivalence with Facebook. Apple is rotting for all of these reasons and more.”
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|Artist||Track||Images||Approx. start time|
|Why you shouldn't trust Apple|
|Tomaš Dvořák||Game Boy Tune|
|Dennis Young||Morphogenic Waves||0:54:22 (MP3 | Pop-up)|