Maybe only Apple can correct Facebook’s penchant for trampling users’ privacy

“It’s nowhere in his job description, but Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, has recently taken a moonlight gig as Facebook’s privacy watchdog,” Erica Yoon writes for The New York Times. “On Wednesday, Mr. Cook and his lieutenants took aim at Facebook for violating Apple’s rules with a research app that allowed Facebook to snoop on users’ online activity. Facebook promoted the app through an Apple program that gives trusted developers the ability to install apps for testing without going through the App Store’s normal approval process. Apple responded by cutting off Facebook’s access to apps and updates that it was working on internally, causing chaos among the company’s software engineers.”

“Mr. Cook, who has called privacy a ‘fundamental human right’ and taken Facebook and Google to task for the misuse of user data in the past, could effectively become a technology regulator of last resort — using the power of Apple’s iOS operating system as a cudgel to force software companies to respect user privacy and play by the rules, or risk losing access to millions of iPhone users,” Yoon writes. “There’s no doubt that Apple took a firm stand here. But if Mr. Cook truly wants to protect Apple users from privacy-violating apps, he could remove all of Facebook’s products — including Instagram and WhatsApp — from the App Store until the company can prove, in a real and measurable way, that it cares about its users’ privacy.”

“Shutting off Facebook’s access to Apple devices would be a radical step, tantamount to declaring war on a major competitor. But Apple has banned developers for smaller infractions in the past. And in the absence of government regulation, there may be no other option for bringing the company to heel on privacy,” Yoon writes. “Is such a big crackdown necessary? It probably is, if Apple is truly serious about protecting privacy. Time and time again, Facebook has shown that it cannot be trusted to protect users’ privacy unless it is forced to do so. And while regulators have fined Facebook for privacy violations, those punishments rarely amount to anything truly meaningful — at most, the company pays a few million dollars, promises to do better next time, and goes right back to work.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Again, as we wrote earlier:

The problem is that government is slow and always behind the curve. Privacy-trampling Facebook and Google need to be regulated. This much, by now, is blatantly obvious. Until or unless the governments of the world get their acts together and begin to protect their citizens’ privacy rights, we’ll settle for Apple standing in as regulator. At least some modicum of restraint on Facebook and Google is capable of being applied by someone who believes in privacy rights.

Although we’d love for Apple to banish Facebook off the App Store forever for serially abusing users’ private data, it’s not really feasible unless Apple wishes to immediately sell far, far fewer iPhones and iPads. Facebook has 2.32 billion users as of December 31st. Apple doesn’t have as nearly much power over Facebook as Newton seems to think.

SEE ALSO:
Should Apple’s power over Facebook worry the rest of us – January 31, 2019
Big surprise: Google is also abusing Apple’s Enterprise Certificate system to collect extensive data on users – January 30, 2019
Apple blocks Facebook from running all of their internal iOS apps by revoking distribution certificate – January 30, 2019
Apple bans Facebook’s ‘research’ app that paid teens to install VPN that spies on them – January 30, 2019
Hidden documents reveal how Facebook made money by bamboozling children – January 18, 2019
Roger McNamee: I mentored Mark Zuckerberg. I loved Facebook. But I can’t stay silent about what’s happening. – January 17, 2019
Apple CEO Cook calls for U.S. Congress to pass comprehensive federal privacy legislation in TIME op-ed – January 17, 2019
Senator Marco Rubio introduces privacy bill to create federal regulations on data collection – January 16, 2019
Apple endorses comprehensive privacy legislation in U.S. Senate testimony – September 26, 2018
Trump administration working on federal data privacy policy – July 27, 2018

6 Comments

  1. “using the power of Apple’s iOS operating system as a cudgel to force software companies to respect user privacy and play by the rules”

    Finally, a social justice warrior cause I can get behind.

    1. The only thing that motivates Tim Cook is the satiation of his lust for abject GREED.

      Since Google pays billions for the privilege, he willingly gives them access to our personal information.

      With Facebook it’s complicated. FB never had to pay to play, because since most people use FB, the two companies viewed FB/iOS integration as merely a “benefit” to iOS users.

      Now, in the aftermath of all the FB privacy scandals, hypocritical Cook has been lambasting Zuck. So unless Zuck is willing to open his FB treasure chest, Cook is now hanging him out to dry.

      If you hear some type of agreement being struck, believe that Cook raked in more billions. Also believe ALL our data is now in FB’s hands.

  2. While I am crying no tears for Facebook or Google – I heartily dislike both companies – I am a bit concerned that Apple had to resort to certificate revocation. Now that the power of that approach has been revealed, you can be that every major company (even those with good intentions) are weighing the potential threat to their operations. I am afraid that corporations will starting moving towards Android thinking that they should avoid that iOS risk, however slight it may be to the vast majority of companies.

  3. As I read these articles, I began wondering whether Facebook or Google could spoof the necessary certificate and continue with their business outside of Apple’s control. That would seem to be right in line with how those companies operate…

    Any thoughts on that?

  4. Tim Cook won’t be able to beat Facebook or Google. Those companies dominate the internet and won’t go down easily. They also have Wall Street’s blessing with some of the biggest investors who aren’t going to stand by idly when their money is at stake. Privacy and security are a joke to Wall Street. There’s no big money to be made in either of those intangibles. Wall Street believes if something can’t be monetized, then it’s not worth protecting.

    Apple has very little power because it has such a small global market share percentage. Apple seems to be the only company worrying about protecting security and privacy. Even consumers aren’t concerned about it, so Tim Cook is on his own. Data-harvesting will continue because it offers huge profits. Profits always win out. Wait until Facebook and Google are firmly planted in India. Those Indian consumers are going to be data-harvested until they bleed. Facebook and Google will be raking in mountains of cash from those poor suckers. Apple will completely miss out on that party. India is 99% Android smartphone territory.

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