Spying on you is all the rage these days. Everyone does it. Governments, corporations, social media, search engines, applications you use. From one perspective, all that spying and tracking and culling of personal information is done with your approval. You know it’s being done and you allow it to continue. Except for all those times when the government, hackers, and criminals do it. But you know it’s being done, right?
Perhaps the largest perpetrator tracking people’s whereabouts and activities online is Google. That’s how the company makes money. Tracking users, collecting data, selling advertising. Sure, that playful, colorful logo seems innocuous enough, and Google touts itself as a modern technology company, but have you ever talked to a Google employee? Maybe it’s because Google employees cannot look their users in the eye.
Word on the proverbial streets is that Apple plans to track you, too, but in a somewhat different, more open and collaborative way. While Google rummages through all your email, documents, and photos as part of a deep machine learning project to gather even more information about you; to the point of predicting your behavior, Apple is taking a different approach.
First, Apple will harvest your personal data. If you opt in. Otherwise, it’s mostly hands-off.
Second, Apple plans to use a technique called ‘differential privacy‘ to gather personal information that is– unlike Google/s efforts which are highly personal– not personally identifiable.
Third, some of the company’s efforts to gather personal information will be accomplished on your Mac, iPhone, or iPad, and not sucked up into some massive cloud computing behemoth to be sliced, and diced, and julienned (and sold to the highest bidder) and still somehow remain fully identifiable back to you.
In other words, Apple is coming down– again– on the side of personal privacy while fully recognizing there is value in gathering such data, especially with artificial intelligence, Siri, and personal intelligent assistants.
If you want Google to stop spying on you, about all you can do is leave the internet entirely, or jump through a bunch of difficult hoops to get the legal pilferage down to a minimum. If you want Apple to not spot on you, just keep doing what you’re doing. If you want to help Apple improve it’s deep machine learning then you’ll have to opt in first.
Apple seems to think there are enough of us who are willing to have our personal information tracked that there will be sufficient data gathered to make Siri much smarter.
I appreciate the posture Apple takes because it sets the company apart from Google. With Apple, you’ll need to opt in to be tracked. With Google, it’s nearly impossible to opt out.