Letters of Mass Construction

Privacy Pirates


So Apple is at it again. Proving to us everyday no matter how cool they like to make the world think they are, in the end they are just another big company. They might care a tiny bit more about their reputation and their users but not much. The bottom line is still money. How to make it and make lots of it.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with this. They are a company and they are in it to make money. Despite what people might think nothing is free. Not Twitter, not Facebook, not Google. They are all trying to make money. It’s just that along the way to making money the consumer keeps getting stepped on.

This week Apple updated their end user agreement for iTunes. It was 28 fucking pages long. Really Apple what are you smoking? No one reads though those things. But seriously would it be that hard to make an agreement I could read and understand? I know I am letting my geek flag fly a little here but I actually care a little about what I am agreeing to.

For instance, I was very disheartened to find out that Apple is tracking our movements with this new update. The actual passage which pissed me off was this one, “Apple and our partners and licensees may collect, use, and share precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device. This location data is collected anonymously in a form that does not personally identify you and is used by Apple and our partners and licensees to provide important location-based products and services.”

In other words, they are spying on us for the delivery of iAds. While you can opt out of iAds for data collection (by the way I will always believe companies should have to ask you to opt in) you can’t, to the best of my knowledge, opt out of the location based services. I admit to a deep rooted sense of paranoia and distrust to all companies. I don’t care if they say it is anonymous, lots of companies say things are anonymous only to have it turn out they weren’t. It is just one more piece of my privacy nipped away.

I know Apple isn’t the only one who does this. I know many, many companies release user agreements which are longer than the health care reform bill. I know most companies would pull your heart out of your chest and sell it back to you. There was a time Apple wasn’t one of those companies. Those days are gone. They join the long list of companies who feel they owe nothing to their consumers. Who feel privacy is a word which means we get to keep our company secrets but the end use is screwed. All of these companies are just privacy pirates.

Today, Google won a very big lawsuit against Viacom which kept YouTube in videos forever more. As I read the article I chuckled a little and wondered when they were going to start looking out for the consumer. I don’t get to copy my movies, I don’t own my digital content, I don’t own the privacy of my movements. I love all the limitless possibilities of the digital age but I think we have started walking down a slippery slope for consumer rights and I don’t see it changing anytime soon.


Art by Brian Despain

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One Response to “Privacy Pirates”

  1. Okie says:

    >It reminds me a bit of the advertising in Minority Report where the advertisers immediately know who you are as you walk through the mall and pound you with ads tailored exactly for you and the location you're at…part of me likes the idea that the advertising will at least be tailored more directly to me….the other (larger) part of me wants the companies to back off and stop the ads altogether.

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