Tim Cook of Apple is concerned about privacy invasions.  

Most of us are aware of the various data hacks that have occurred resulting in the release of private information.  Everything from stores, hotels, and places where you use your personal information to the services that maintain data, hacking has become the “new normal”.  In a Time magazine article Mr. Cook focused on the “invisible” privacy invasions.

What are Cook’s concerns about privacy invasions?

Cook’s primary concern is that anyone who has purchased through online retailers may of been subject of the use of a data broker.

Basically when you place your order with many online retailers your information is sold or transferred to a data broker.  These companies exists purely to collect your private information, package it and sell it to another buyer.

Cook calls this a “shadow economy that’s largely unchecked” by regulators.  He called on the Federal Trade Commission to register all data brokers so you know if and where your information gets sold.

Is Apple itself to blame for any privacy invasions?

There is always a price even if it says it is “free”.  Companies that provide services that you don’t pay for, which includes Apple, Google, and Microsoft, fund themselves by advertising and selling your information.

Apple says “it’s making it very clear on how it’s using your data” but the way it does so is far more obtuse than many of the other companies providing “free” services.

According to Apple’s privacy policy it will collect information such as your name, contacts, and songs in your music library and send them to Apple servers.   Your iPhone sends your location and calendar information.  This allows it to offer functions like predicting when you’ll have to leave to make your next appointment. Apples does seem to make use of encrypted connections and anonymized information to help secure data.  (Anonymized information is data that is in some way obscured to hide the actual information owner).

In many cases this information is used for target advertising.  Apple does have a process to opt out but it is somewhat difficult and roundabout to do.  The process to do so is left to the user to discover for themselves. End users can find some good third party tutorials online to assist in this process.

What is preventing regulators from cracking down on privacy violations?

Generally speaking the law is behind current technology.   This happens for a number of reasons. The main one being that technology changes and advances faster than the law can change and keep up.  In addition to write proper legislation requires specialists. When a piece of law is passed on a specific topic of technology in many cases the specific topic is no longer current and relevant and something new has taken its place.

William (Bill) Sikkens has been a technology expert for KXL on the Morning Show with Steve and Rebecca since 2014. With an expertise in I.T., cyber security and software design he has had more than 20 years’ experience with advanced technology. Sikkens conceptualizes and designs custom applications for many professional industries from health care to banking and has the ability to explain the details in a way all can understand.  Article edited by Gretchen Winkler.

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