Thursday, February 25, 2016

Open Letter to Tim Cook: Privacy Vs. The Illusion of Privacy

Over the past few weeks we have seen a lot of debate over the ongoing fight between Apple, the FBI and the DOJ over a request being made of Apple to help bypass security software on a specific iPhone 5C once used by known terrorists Syed Farook, the man who with his wife shot 36 people and killed 14. By now most of us have taken up our sides and formed our opinions, with many of us ardently supporting our positions.

Just this past week I expressed several thoughts, concerns and questions when I asked why we fear our government, yet embrace corporations? I now realize that I have been looking at this from the wrong position the entire time. No, I do not now support Apple's position over the government's, I just realized that we are focused on the wrong aspects of this case.

I initially thought my question should be: Why is it that we should trust Apple over the government? Or give Apple the power to completely dismiss the government when they are making what appears to be a totally legitimate lawful request? 

I now realize the question we really should be asking is not why should the government want or need access to our data, but why isn't our government fighting for our privacy and limiting the amount of data that companies like Apple collect on us? After all it is the government's job, not Apple's, to protect the public trust. 

Like it or not our government is bound by the Constitution, our laws, Congress and the 
Supreme Court. They are the one's that have true public accountability, not Apple. Apple holds carte blanche on what it decides to do with your data it collects, not the government. Now of course we can argue government over-reach, misuses of information and the government's ability to reach far beyond anything Apple can do to you and of course those are all valid concerns. 

But think of this, Apple has for years collected all this data on you, and can still be compelled to share what it has collected. Double that with their lack of accountability for how they decide to share that data and with whom, and you see my issue!

So if Apple comes out on top in this case all we end up with is the illusion of privacy, not actual privacy. Companies like Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft will still be collecting that data and the government will still have some ability to subpoena what is being collected!

Tim Cook has gone on record stating that, "All that information needs to be protected from hackers and criminals who want to access it, steal it, and use it without our knowledge or permission. Compromising the security of our personal information can ultimately put our personal safety at risk."

Well Mr Cook if you are truly about working for the public interest and working on doing the right thing when it comes to privacy and security then I ask you this: Why does your company continue to collect our personal private data for its unadulterated use by your company? Why is it every iPhone user is so stringently tied to your services, services from which you collect large amounts of personal information? Information that includes everything from our private conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts, our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we are going.

Tim Cook you say say, "Some things are hard, and some things are right and some things are both and this [battle over privacy] is one of those things."  If Apple truly wants to proclaims an ethical duty it has to protect the privacy and security of millions of iPhone users worldwide then why not allow those users to divorce themselves from Apple once they have purchased their devices? Why not make using your services opt-in instead of opt-out?

So yet again I ask!! Why is this so called 'battle' for privacy' not being spearheaded by our government on behalf of us all? And why is it that the focus is not about what our government may access, but what our corporations are collecting on every user out there? 

I don't think we shouldn't be fearful of a government that wants a key to the lock, what we should be fearful of is a company that wants both the lock and key!

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