When privacy becomes a feature

Four large US government investors just wanted to set a tone: in addition to the New York City Court of Auditors, late Wednesday evening, the investment funds of the states of Illinois, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island also welcomed a proposal from the Trillium Asset Management hedge fund that included Mark Zuckerberg Facebook after the massive data scandals of recent weeks and months but please vacate his post as a management ratchet on Facebook may.

The Facebook founder controlled his company, however, so that only Mark Zuckerberg can sell even Mark Zuckerberg. After all, the man is not only chairman of the board, but also chairman of the board in the company.

In this respect, the current proposal to sell Zuckerberg is more of a symbolic act. However, it also shows how much trust Facebook and its founder have lost by now. Because in addition to the Cambridge-Analytica scandal makes Facebook felt at weekly intervals headlines with his lax handling of data and privacy.


Google, Facebook and privacy

Only in September, Facebook had discovered a renewed hacker attack on the group and granted an “access” to personal information. Initially, it was said that 50 million users were affected. A few days later, Facebook product boss Guy Rosen relativized the number: “Only” 30 million accounts were targeted.

Access tokens have been stolen. 14 million users were able to access personal information, while another 15 million were compromised “just” the email address and phone number. From the “access” was in Rosens explanation then a “tapping”.

The ever-new bad news about Facebook’s security issues coincides with a Google Group news that left the network community upset about a week ago: Google had announced that the Google+ social network would be closed.

The main reason was not the realization that 90 percent of the sessions on Google+ had taken on average only five seconds. The sudden shutdown was mainly due to a massive security leak that allowed third-party vendors since 2015 to access data from Google+ user profiles.

The leak, however, was discovered in March 2018 by Google. Probably the first expected reflex to inform the Google + community was missing, although Stand now revealed nearly 500,000 user names including email addresses, date of birth, gender, profile photos, location, occupation and relationship status for 438 third party app providers.

Only that Wall Street Journal (not Google itself) revealed the scandal. The WSJ had quoted from in-house Google meetings. There, those responsible believed that they had been flown “under the radar” during the Cambridge-Analytica scandal. A disclosure might lead to the fact that Google in addition to Facebook or even instead of Facebook would target the privacy advocates.

An absurd reason on the one hand. On the other hand, probably the last proof that users of Facebook and / Google must keep in mind: The only certainty is that both companies generally earn their money with data that can be resold to third parties to increase sales. And Google+ was created in 2011 as an “answer to Facebook”.

Privacy is Apple’s feature

All this, the network community must certainly remember once again to understand the step, the competitor Apple is now. Although the company from Cupertino had been informing for months with a small but rather good website about its privacy policy, Apple is taking the recent events surrounding Facebook and Google as an opportunity, a completely new page for dealing with data protection in the group to publish – also in Germany, the site has now been launched.

Although it is internally at Apple continue to believe that the user is not overloaded with small print privacy, but in the corporate headquarters already a rethinking has taken place: The data protection is a feature at Apple!

While companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon have collected the collection of personal user data and their resale to the business model, Apple now clearly documents on the new page that the products are the business model of the Group, not the data of the customers.

In times of uncertain data protection, where leading companies can become the gateway for criminal data hackers and sometimes even failing to discover the gaps for years, Apple’s move seems more than overdue, as it can provide good additional sales propositions for Apple products especially with previously rather indifferent users.

Also interesting: Jailbreak on iPhones: There is still room in the prison

Apple wants to earn an advance of trust

How seriously Apple is taking the step to more pro-actively proclaim privacy is also illustrated by Apple CEO Tim Cook’s opening keynote speech at the EU’s Data Protection Conference next Wednesday (40th annual International Conference on Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners “).

Fittingly, Apple had already made a statement last week to the Australian Parliament, in which the Group has documented the importance of strong encryption and the risk of backdoors on seven pages.

Meanwhile, US politicians in Washington are still brooding over a federal law designed to punish data breaches with heavy financial penalties. Europe is already there: Data leaks must be reported within three days, violations can be punished with up to four percent of global sales.

With his initiatives, Apple could develop a trust in Europe, which Google and Facebook will probably never be able to achieve again. For example, Apple points out that you can, for example, at Apple Music create user profiles and then resell them, but you refuse this type of business. In the US, such practice has long been commonplace in competing streaming services such as Spotify, Google Play Music, or Pandora.

Data leak in the last seen orders of magnitude, stressed Tim Cook in a VICE interview, are not at Apple at all possible, since the group personal data of the user left only on the device of the customer. Apple itself can not access it. Cook said he even urges his engineers “for data economy” and “to collect as little data as possible during product design”.

Goodbye to movement profiles

The privacy promise of Apple is (in detail spread on the new special page and also a 36-page white paper) in many areas underpinned. For example, with Intelligent Tracking Prevention, Apple users have full control over sharing buttons and comment widgets that companies use to track Internet browsing histories.

The new macOS Mojave also makes it difficult for advertisers to fingerprint very much. Typically, when browsing the web, the device configuration can be identified. Mojave removes these unique identifications. With a new password system, the software recognizes when you enter a password on a new website that you have already used multiple times.

The software can then replace this password with a secure and strong password directly on the website. And in Apple Maps, of course, there is the route guidance, but this does not save your movement profile. The route is previously split into several parts. So it is not recognizable for Apple, where you have run long or have run long. In short: Goodbye to motion profiles – in contrast to Google Maps.

Apple’s privacy campaign is based on interesting studies, which show that users in the US in particular, the unreliable data, especially on Facebook in the last few years register rather indifferent, without a large number of accounts would be deleted. With the Cambridge Analytica scandal, however, the tide has obviously turned to many US users. Assets like privacy could become more important in buying decisions.

And portal? It’s Facebook

And the competitors, so it looks at the moment, are likely to continue to play into companies like Apple, which promise not to make your data a product. Facebook had just launched its echo show competitor portal (LEAD reported) with the words, the device should connect friends and relatives through a video chat and, so at least Facebook’s hope, soon in every household.

For the presentation, Facebook explained the smart device, which can also follow the movements in the room and automatically zooms in to keep everyone in view, as an example of how Facebook has done “everything for security and privacy” on the portal. Do not store chats, encrypt video chats, identify people, and – crucially – not collect data from the device for advertising.

A few days later, Facebook had to admit that tracking contrary to first announcements was possible. Although Portal shows no advertising itself, but the product can access information about open apps on portal and sell to advertisers to personalize advertising. The bottom line is that Portal collects the same user data as Facebook Messenger, which is linked to the portal to find friends.

The explanation that could be tracked, was barely out, as the storm of indignation ebbed away again. It’s Facebook.

But the company knows how it continues to ride its product wave: According to recent rumors, Facebook is now also planning its own television set for Portal. The “Project Ripley” could already be presented next spring – with its own camera …

Also interesting: why Facebook is far from over

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