Hypocritical Privacy Regulation: Tech Giants Aim to Keep Earning on Ads - Pundit

© REUTERS / Rick Wilking / Computer screens display the Facebook sign-in screen in this photo illustration taken in Golden, Colorado, United States July 28, 2015
Computer screens display the Facebook sign-in screen in this photo illustration taken in Golden, Colorado, United States July 28, 2015 - Sputnik International
n a statement Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has said people’s data is being weaponized with by companies who are using it to make a profit for themselves.

Data issues and the way in which companies use personal information is under the spotlight following a series of large breaches of data privacy involving millions of internet users across Europe and the United States.

Sputnik spoke to David Glance, Director of the UWA Center for Software Practice, for more insight on the issue.

Sputnik: Apple boss Tim Cook says that people's personal data is being "weaponised with military efficiency" by companies who are using it to make profit for themselves. What is the significance behind Mr Cook's comments?

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David Glance: I think Apple has been trying to differentiate itself from Google and Facebook, and potentially Amazon, by taking a particular stance on privacy; so it encrypts things and keeps it on your phone rather than sending it to a server whereas Google and other companies send a lot of data back to servers to process.

It’s really taking a firm stance against personalized advertising, which as a business model requires huge amounts of private data and they are seeing that as the driver for all of these complaints that have been made in terms of privacy violations by these companies.

Sputnik: Isn't this a bit hypocritical from Apple as they are one of these large companies collecting data?

David Glance: They are far from perfect – that is absolutely clear so there is some way to go but it’s an interesting differentiation point for them.

Of course they [Apple] have the luxury to do this because they make their money from hardware and services that don’t necessarily rely on this but they do personalized targeted ads so there is data that is being used for that but what they are sort of saying is that where possible they keep that sort of data on the phone and their services potentially suffer from that e.g.

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So Siri is not quite as good the Google Assistant, because it isn’t collecting the massive amounts of data that Google potentially does. Google and Facebook have absolutely no choice in this matter. As long as there business model is based on advertising it is going to require the hoovering up of massive amounts of data.

Cook also took aim at Google in terms of the way it is manipulating content, which is really honed into this internet filter bubble that has been the case for many years where you only see the content that Google thinks you’re interested in; so that they [Apple] are claiming that has helped in the US, for example, polarizing the different political views of the population there. That’s another aspect that really Google has no way out of.

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Sputnik: What measure do we need to see if companies are serious about not infringing on people's personal data and information?

David Glance: We certainly do. The CEO of Google followed Tim Cook at this privacy conference and said almost exactly the same thing that Google is all for privacy. You’ve got to treat all of this with a little pinch of salt because all of them are claiming they are doing the right thing, all of them are claiming that they want regulation.

The degree of regulation, Tim Cook wanted something similar to the GDPR in Europe, whereas Pichai from Google basically talked about privacy principles which are two very different things.

So Facebook and Google want regulation but regulation that they can live with, that keeps them able to make money out of advertising and personalizing search results and content to people. Clearly it’s all about attention and keeping attention to their sites, whereas Apple has the luxury of making money from other sources. All of them are going to have to do this.

Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of David Glance and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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