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Apple backed themselves into a corner by marketing themselves as the super-privacy company in contrast to Google. The problem is that all the data collection lets you do some really useful stuff that benefits the user. So now they're spreading FUD while trying to pretend that they're not collecting the same type of data that Google does. Google has been using differential privacy for a while in different projects.



How do you explain their insistence, then, on doing object recognition in photos on-device? Is it possible that they have understood the affordances of various data collection and obfuscation techniques and will apply the appropriate ones after taking into account their desire to protect privacy?

Google indeed has RAPPOR (and other projects, I'm sure), but the cultural difference Apple claims is "we consider privacy in everything we do" instead of "we add privacy where we can."


> the cultural difference Apple claims is "we consider privacy in everything we do"

I'm pretty sure that should be interpreted as "we've determined privacy is a differentiator in the market, so as of some indeterminate time in the past, ranging from a few years ago to our inception, we consider privacy in everything we do."

Now, there's nothing wrong with that, and that's not to say they haven't been privacy conscious in the past, but let's not confuse the current stance as entirely altruistic, when there are are multiple incentives at play, one of which is concern for the user.

Edit: s/months/years/, that's much more accurate.


Steve Jobs was pretty passionate about this and they are continuing on with it.

http://www.recode.net/2016/2/21/11588068/heres-what-steve-jo...


Sure. But you can replace Apple in my comment with Jobs, and it would apply equally as well, had Jobs not passed away. The article you reference points this out specifically:

> His comments arrived as Apple started to identify Google, and its ascending Android operating system, as its chief competitor. Here we see the first signs of the hardware seller deploying its privacy position as a branding and competitive tactic, a strategy that has come to the fore during its current standoff with the feds.


If Tim Cook wasn't part of a frequently and historically persecuted minority, I'd be more cynical too.


I don't see it as being cynical, just as being rational. People rarely have a single motivation for their actions, even if they may report a singly motivation if asked (possibly the primary reason, or the one they feel comfortable talking about). I don't see why this would be any different for a corporation, generally being made up of many people.

Like I said, there's nothing wrong with this. We just need to be sure we don't fall into the trap of thinking we can take what is presented at face value as the whole story, just as you can't when dealing with individuals much of the time. Apple is not our trusted old friend, that will look out for our best interests. They are at best an acquaintance that we have a business relationship with. That doesn't mean they won't act in a manner we appreciate, but it does mean we should not assume they will act as a good friend.


Whoa you just opened my eyes I always believed big company were fundamentally altruistic!

What a bummer!


Agreed. I find it vastly amusing to hear praise for Apple because they're applying some sort of obfuscation to the telemetry they collect ("Proprietary and totally secret, of course. Oh, what telemetry is Apple collecting? That's secret too but, trust us, Apple cares about your privacy.") and yet people are up in arms about Windows 10 telemetry and little, if anything, is ever said about the telemetry collected by Android. How does that work?


I agree, I just wanted to point out that it is slightly different, as historically microsoft has had a "pay us and we dont care what you do" (my words) agreement with users, whereas google has always been a free and ad supported company. But yeah there is a triple standard here.


But I can't forget that Google is the company that somehow managed to suggest ads on my personal phone based on browsing on my professional PC.

Theses devices are never on the same network, the only shared parameters is an exchange account. As a rule I always log-out of the only Google service I rarely use, so this must be some cookie/tracker dark magic.

Sadly I have no proof, but I use gosthery to block trackers since then. (Side note: gosthery also claim to use DP btw)


Facebook recently recommended to me a "friend" who was a person that worked at another company which was a client for my previous employer. The only means of online communication I've had with this person was through my old work email. My Facebook account uses a unique email address used only for Facebooking, I've never friended anyone from my previous employer, my demographic information is all made up (except for my name), I've set privacy controls in Facebook to be as strict as possible, I run uBlock Origin/NoScript on all browsers, I clear browser history/cookies/etc on exit...yet, here is this person being recommended to me. The lengths that these companies go to fingerprint you online is incredibly scary and creepy.


It's possible that the person being recommended has lax settings.

Connections are a two way street. Facebook can assume that if he has connections to you, then you may have a connection to them.

Nothing nefarious is necessary.


It's fairly straight forward - cookies + Google's ad network + Analytics on your phone allow them to track you across devices.


Ok, so maybe we are talking about the same field of science, but it seems that, from what they say there is two very distinct approach.

1.Collect personal data, send them to mainframe, use them to profile and deliver custom tailored services. When sharing hash so that individual records can't be extrapolated

2.Collect personal data, use them locally sometimes using mainframe provided 'models'. Return to mainframe hashed records to improve models.

Google is clearly using 1. while Apple claim to target 2. (I don't think it's actually the case now because I though Siri actually store some personal data on the cloud so far)


How would the cookie from the work get to the phone?


You don't need to rely on cookies anymore to identify someone online: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Device_fingerprint


Sure, but that's not cross device.


I must have been connected to the same Gmail or Facebook account at some point on both devices. However as I said I purposely never stay logged in to google services. Yeah, I can flush all cookies (thus annoyingly resetting all legit cookies as well).

But this is not how privacy should work, cause there is a lot of people out there that don't read HN and only recently found out that there is a lot pastry inside their computers.


Your browser (Firefox, Chrome, Safari) most likely uses Google SafeSearch. That phones home with a super cookie every 30 minutes.


Apple is a hardware company. The not as dependant on data as Google is.




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