Apple announced enhanced privacy protections for iPhone users and will soon offer end-to-end encryption of data phone users store in the iCloud. For most users, this includes not only photos but copies of texts, notes, and other data. End-to-end encryption means that Apple cannot see or read the data and cannot share it with law enforcement. Many privacy advocates are saying “It’s about time.” I agree with them.
Law enforcement, of course, is not too happy about this change. Tough, I say. Cops could conduct investigations and arrest people long before we had iPhones or stored data online. They should be able to continue to do so without access to information we all assume is private.
You don’t have to be a criminal or have something to hide to want data security. It’s a good general practice to maintain. Why make things easier for hackers, regardless of whether they work for your government, another government, or just to enrich their pocketbook?
My plan is to enroll a month after they roll out the new data protection plan. That will give them time to work out any last-minute bugs.
It’s None of Their Business
There is far too much invasive data collection going on today. Sometimes it is hidden under the guise of “marketing,” but that’s just a convenient excuse.
For example, I don’t think it is your credit card or your bank’s business if you buy a gun. They are not part of the government. There is no justification for them collecting and holding this information. Likewise, Fedex and UPS should not be monitoring what guns they shipped to their customers. The Second Amendment gives us the right to keep and bear arms; it doesn’t appoint banks or delivery companies to enforce, limit, or restrict people who choose to exercise this right.
Tired of talking about the Second Amendment? Ok, let’s talk about the First Amendment. Why does Twitter have the right to blacklist posters, limit who sees their tweets, and use other “shadow ban” techniques that restrict our rights to free speech? How can they get away with accepting lists from the Biden campaign of accounts they want to shut down? We had an enormous scandal when people thought the Russians were interfering with the election. That wasn’t true, but we have proof Twitter interfered.
It’s also wrong that technology lets the FBI, NSA and even your local police department “suck up” cellular data to track suspects, in part because the data of thousands of innocent people get sucked up at the same time. That’s why I use Signal when I want to communicate securely.
Private Business Should not be the Enforcer
If a guy named Al calls up his congressman and threatens to kill him, no one blames the phone company for transmitting Al’s threat. If Al mails his senator a letter in which he berates him for his political views and uses a few words that someone in the Senator’s office finds offensive or thinks is threatening, no one calls the U.S. Postal Service to task for delivering the mail.
So why should UPS get in trouble for transporting a gun from point A to point B, especially if both points are licensed gun dealers? Why should Twitter, or Reddit, or other forums or social media platforms be responsible when someone gets offended by what someone else said on the platform? Shouldn’t we blame the person who made the post? And if you are offended by someone else’s post, just block the person or the keywords and you never have to see that kind of content again. Better yet, delete the entire app Poof! Problem solved.
The case law on the Internet is complicated, contradictory and years from being settled. Until then, my advice is to pay for guns with cash or pre-paid debit cards, keep social media apps off your phone, turn off your location services, and use end-to-end encryption whenever possible.