Emily Cho
oh, (big) brother

Big Tech Splits Over Privacy Issues, at Least on the Surface.

Big tech companies are paying lip service to online privacy, but their efforts are paper-thin.

Doing the Least

Apple CEO Tim Cook, whose company stands to lose the least from strong data regulations, just made a public call to better protect personal data.

“Wow,” you may think upon hearing of Cook’s dire warning of how people can be exploited and abused via their personal data. “What a hero!”

The catch: his call for weak protections — overall, they sounded like a watered-down version of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation — would hinder competitors like Facebook and Google but largely spare his own business.

Vague Suggestions

Cook did make some good — though vague — suggestions. Amid implications that Apple was doing better than some mysterious, unnamed competitors, Cook called for minimal data collection along with better safeguards on that data and improved transparency so people know what tech corporations know about them, The Verge reported.

Meanwhile, Google also announced that it will repackage all of its privacy and data collection controls in one place, called “Your Data,” as WIRED reported. The idea is to give people a better idea of what personal information is being collected (tons!) and what they can do about it (not much!)

Empty Words

Of course, Google is notorious for offering people the illusion of control over how their data is collected, and even one of Apple’s top apps, Adware Doctor, was just found to be circumventing Apple’s security and sending user data to Chinese servers.

It’s nice to have a powerful CEO calling for data protection, but speeches and media relations do not a better digital society make.

READ MORE: Tim Cook warns of ‘data-industrial complex’ in call for comprehensive US privacy laws [The Verge]

More on privacy: Google Didn’t Report Its Data Leak Till Months Later. Now It’ll Face the Consequences.

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