TIM COOK HAS put the privacy cat amongst the data-broking pigeons with an op-ed for Time Magazine in which he calls on the American government to bring in new tools to let consumers "delete their data on demand, freely, easily and online, once and for all."
That sound you hear is Mark Zuckerberg gently weeping. If you're hearing it in stereo, you must be equidistant between Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
"Consumers shouldn't have to tolerate another year of companies irresponsibly amassing huge user profiles, data breaches that seem out of control and the vanishing ability to control our own digital lives," writes Cook. "This problem is solvable — it isn't too big, too challenging or too late."
Well that's good. So what's the answer, Tim? He wants the Federal Trade Commission to create a "data-broker clearinghouse" where all companies that trade in data would have to register all activity. Cook says this would let customers "track the transactions that have bundled and sold their data from place to place" and grant "users the power to delete their data on demand, freely, easily and online, once and for all."
That's a very easy cause for Apple to champion, of course and it frequently does. Unlike the other super-rich companies in the space, it doesn't make much money from tracking users or from selling data. That puts a clear line between it and the likes of Microsoft and Alphabet (albeit one slightly muddied by letting Google be the default search engine on iPhones), but especially for free online services that have little or nothing to sell. Think Facebook, Twitter, Snappety Chat and the like. As the old mantra says: "if you're not paying for the product, you are the product."
Still, if Mark Zuckerberg wants to come on INQ and write an op-ed about how it should be illegal for phones to cost more than $500 in a fit of petty revenge, our door is always open. µ
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