Free Markets, Free People

Hey iPhone users, how do you like this?

Unsurprising, really, but certainly something I think Apple needs to hear about from consumers:

Apple Inc. is now collecting the “precise,” “real-time geographic location” of its users’ iPhones, iPads and computers.

In an updated version of its privacy policy, the company added a paragraph noting that once users agree, Apple and unspecified “partners and licensees” may collect and store user location data.

When users attempt to download apps or media from the iTunes store, they are prompted to agree to the new terms and conditions. Until they agree, they cannot download anything through the store.

The company says the data is anonymous and does not personally identify users. Analysts have shown, however, that large, specific data sets can be used to identify people based on behavior patterns.

Now I’m like most people – I don’t have the time or interest, usually, to read the “I agree” statements that accompany many software updates and licenses. Most of us automatically hit the “I agree” button and get on with business.

And I also know that it is up to me (i.e. my responsibility) to read those things and if I don’t then what they do is on me for not doing so.

That said, when I either have to agree to use the produce and software I’ve already paid for or else, then I think there’s a certain level of coercion involved that I find disturbing.

So – given the circumstance (and no, I don’t have an iPhone), this should be something clearly stated by Apple with an “opt in” clause, where it is the customer’s option to let the consumer decide to share their data – not the other way around.

Until then, I think iPhone users ought to raise holy hell with Apple until they change their agreement.



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16 Responses to Hey iPhone users, how do you like this?

  • There is an opt-in, on a per app basis. No application, including Apple’s own, gets to use your location without you first agreeing to let it. This is just a clarification of existing rules, as far as what the app owners (and the advertisers they use, if they have ads in the app) can do with that information. Transparency is good, yes?

  • Using your zip code, your birth date and gender they can identify you, uniquely,  most of the time.

  • Aww…I don’t know – my family just bought me a, to me expensive, IPOD – before I can use their device to do what it’s supposed to do, I have to register it.  Before it can be registered I have to give them my credit card information even though I’m not an on-line buyer type and given my collection of music, it’ll be a while before I feel the need to buy from Itunes.  Yet, there it is, I had to agree or the thing is effectively a paper weight.
    So, as Bruce noted, to use their device, which was paid for, I have to give them information that really isn’t their business.   They need my credit card info the minute I buy something from them, NOT all the time.   I do data processing, I don’t like my data laying around on someone else’s storage if I can help it.  I agree, it’s coercive, but then I guess I don’t HAVE to use this thing and could return it (except for the fact that I AM having a good time with it…heh).
    For years I’ve joked that the Microsoft agreements have a clause buried in there that obligates you to become Bill Gate’s unpaid houseboy for 6 months via random lottery.  I guess now I’ll be mowing Steve Job’s lawn for a while.

  • All tech companies should tread carefully wrt to privacy issues becasue abuses will likely result in an onerous policy response.  My guess is that companies pushing the enevlope of what is acceptable will cause a regulatory reaction that will see rules put in place to restrict the collection and use of personal data.

    Generally, I see this as a good thing as long as the consumer remains in control of their data.  This is the approach used in Canada and I think the US is a but behind the curve on privacy.

  • Now I’m like most people – I don’t have the time or interest, usually, to read the “I agree” statements that accompany many software updates and licenses. Most of us automatically hit the “I agree” button and get on with business.
    And I also know that it is up to me (i.e. my responsibility) to read those things and if I don’t then what they do is on me for not doing so.

    “What rules? We didn’t see any rules, did we, Charlie?”

    “Wrong, sir! Wrong! Under section 37B of the contract signed by him, it states quite clearly that all offers shall become null and void if – and you can read it for yourself in this photostatic copy:
    I, the undersigned, shall forfeit all rights, privileges, and licenses herein and herein contained, et cetera, et cetera… Fax mentis incendium gloria cultum, et cetera, et cetera… Memo bis punitor delicatum!

    It’s all there, black and white, clear as crystal! You stole fizzy lifting drinks! You bumped into the ceiling which now has to be washed and sterilized, so you get nothing!

    You lose! Good day, sir!

    • Great, now I don’t get the Chocolate factory, AND I have to mow Steve Jobs lawn.  Just great.

  • There’s no problem here.
    As Jeff said, it IS opt-in.
    “The iTunes portion of the article” is just a change to the iTunes agreement <I>saying that you can opt in to such things</i>, and that if you do, non-personally-identifying information may be collected, used, and shared.
    And that some features from Apple (and only Apple), like “Find my iPhone”, require such information – and they’re all opt-in.
    (“To provide location-based services on Apple products, 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 and improve location-based products and services. For example, we may share geographic location with application providers when you opt in to their location services.
    Some location-based services offered by Apple, such as the MobileMe “Find My iPhone” feature, require your personal information for the feature to work.”)
    “Oh, no, someone could, if I installed an app and let it do this, <I>know where I am while the app is running</i>”? That’s supposed to make me care about something and “raise hell with Apple”?
    LA Times linkbait success, I guess.

  • (And, damn. Still. The text-entry widget here produces horribly formatted crap, randomly interprets CRLF as noise, and doesn’t do HTML.
    Seriously? It’s 2010!)

  • One more reason of many not to buy Apple products.

  • This is why I’m waiting till november to get a tablet, and even then I’ll be getting Notion Ink’s Adam. Android based…

  • Anything for which I don’t receive any direct consideration and is not required to support direct consideration at the time of sale, should be an explicit opt in with it clearly stated they are optional.

  • Gee…that hard left bunch at Apple is acting like…hardassed capitalists?
    Is it just me or do I sense the need to bring a lawyer every time you go shopping for something more than groceries?