Apple inserts a laughable trick into its new privacy policy


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Et tu, Apple?


Image: Alisina Elyasi

The thought is tattooed across my forearms every time I pick up an Apple product.

Tim Cook’s company stands truly, madly, deeply for privacy. The likes of Google and Facebook stand for deep intrusion into every nook of your personal space. At least, that’s Cook’s contention.

I tend to respect Cook’s intentions, even if I know Google and Facebook can still furiously scrape at my soul when I’m using my iPhone or MacBook Air.

Yet I wonder just how often Apple’s intentions are headbutted by Apple’s realities. Take the company’s new, shiny reinvented privacy policy for its splendidly private card on iOS.

As TechCrunch reported, Apple has decided to expand the data its passes along to its financial partner Goldman Sachs. And if you don’t like it, oh I’m working up to that.

May I first remind you that when the card was launched, Apple boasted of its deep commitment to keeping your purchasing history on your phone, not in Cupertino’s bosom. Or Goldman Sachs’s drawers. (The feared, revered bank is Apple’s financial partner in this venture.)

Now, however, Apple is loosening things up a little. It’s going to look at your overall history with the company “such as what Apple products you have purchased, how long you have had your Apple ID, and how often you transact with Apple, to improve Apple Card by helping to identify Apple metrics that may assist Goldman Sachs in improving credit decisioning.”

I’m not sure who invented the word decisioning, but I feel sure they endured difficult personal relationships and look forward to a future in political consultancy.

You can see where this is all headed, I’m sure. Apple wants Goldman Sachs to, um, decision more people for cards, so it’s going to send more information the bank’s way in order to help.

Cupertino insists all this information will be — a now-familiar phrase — “aggregate and anonymized.”

Unfortunately, there’s now quite some evidence that anonymization doesn’t guarantee anonymity. Computers and their handlers are quite good at putting two and two together, especially given how much data they can now gorge upon.

But if you really don’t like Apple sharing all this you can simply opt-out. And, as Apple is the home of simplicity, there’s a big blue opt-out button right there.

Oddly, I’m kidding. I regret to say there isn’t a button of any color.

If you want to opt-out of this increased, if allegedly anonymized, distribution of (more of) your personal financial details, you have to really make an effort.

You have to send Apple’s privacy team an email.

And not just any old email. This email has to be headed: “Apple Relationship Data and Apple Card.” And then, good Lord, it’s not as if Apple’s telling you what to write. You’ll have to compose it yourself.

Should you start it with: “Hi, I hope you’re well. After carefully considering you sharing more of my data, I’ve made some tough decisioning.”?

Why would Apple resort to this emailing ruse? Because it knows you won’t bother sending an email.

If there’d been an easy opt-out button, you might have been tempted. Instead, you’re going to accept this sort of stuff yet again because everyone does it, the world is an awful place, the rich will always win and we’re all going to die.

Send us an email? I ask you. What a sadly un-Apple maneuver in order to achieve the company’s ends.

I leave you with the words of one of my favorite privacy defenders: “These stockpiles of data serve only to make rich the companies that collect them. This should make us uncomfortable.”

Of course, that was Tim Cook. Who else could it be?

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