A young woman named Ellie opens a door in a music store and discovers herself at an auction. And guess what’s up for auction – her own data (Ellie’s Data Auction). She watches people in the audience bid on her private emails, purchases, location data, browsing history, and more (even her contacts). She literally stands and sees her own digital life being sold to people in front of her. “It’s not scary, it’s trade,” the auctioneer announces to an eager audience, even as Ellie watches in horror.
Privacy is important on an iPhone
This is not a script from a dystopian fantasy book or series. This is the latest iPhone ad, aptly called Data Auction. And through that, Apple has once again highlighted something other brands seem determined to ignore: the importance of user data.
It’s not something the brand has done for the first time either. Last year, it highlighted how giving your data to one place could lead to it being shared among multiple people in its “Privacy on iPhone – Tracked” announcement.
And before that, there was another advertisement where people randomly announced private information about themselves in public places.
User data privacy has been a big issue with Apple, and while other phone brands have been busy talking about megapixels, processors and camera designs, the Cupertino brand has been stressing the importance of protect the data of its users.
To give Apple credit, it doesn’t just talk about protecting user data, but actually embeds measures to do just that in its devices. For example, in the latest ad, Ellie ends the auction (literally blowing up the auctioneer and the audience) by pressing a number of commands on her iPhone, preventing apps from tracking her, and protecting messaging activity. The fact that these measures to stop tracking are very effective is proven by the fact that Facebook CFO David Wehner admitted that Apple’s privacy measures could cost Facebook up to $10 billion in 2022. , or 8% of its income.
But does privacy matter as much to Google, Facebook, etc.? ?
Unfortunately, and ironically, this is in stark contrast to what other brands are doing. Ironically because Apple was the brand that was meant to be a walled garden that restricted entry to others, while Google and others represented a more free and open world. Well, it’s becoming increasingly clear that this freedom also represents the freedom to simply barter and sell their users’ data.
What’s even more disturbing is that none of these brands seem to really care about solving this problem, even if they pay a lot of talk. We’ve used our share of non-Apple devices, but the option to stop an app from tracking your data rarely, if ever, comes up front.
Yes, you can go to settings and change things to improve privacy, but by default your data is there most of the time. You rarely, if ever, receive warnings that your data is being tracked. In fact, it’s almost as if some brands try to make sure you don’t get an option to protect your data – one faces long and difficult to understand terms and conditions when setting up a phone , and is often asked to sign up for “user experience programs” and even download third-party software, which potentially makes your data available to the brand.
It’s not like an operating system like Android doesn’t have great privacy features or that smartphone makers don’t put their own measures into their devices – it’s just that Google and other brands don’t seem to be as keen as Apple when it comes to promoting them.
Use user data? Yes, but at least ASK users clearly!
Of course, this also stems from the revenue model of a number of brands. Compared to Apple, user data is of much greater importance to Google and Facebook, which don’t have the same type of hardware sales as Apple.
It is therefore a bit naive to expect them to encourage users to be more careful when sharing data. Also, let’s face it, all this data that we share with Google and some other services sometimes gives much better and effective search results and suggestions. However, what worries us is that unlike the iPhone, users on other platforms are not told that they have the option to actually stop this tracking.
We know that mining user data is part of a perfectly legitimate business model. And if used effectively, it can actually benefit users as well as brands. But is this really the case? How many users would voluntarily give a site or app permission to track them if the option was presented to them in advance or if it were easy? Not much, if the iPhone is any indication – the fact that Facebook has taken such a hit illustrates that most users aren’t comfortable being tracked by apps.
These are YOUR data, not those of the brand!
That’s exactly why we think Google, Facebook and others should take a cue from Apple’s book and start giving users more control over their data. Yes, it could change revenue models, but ultimately brands should never forget that they exist because of their consumers, not the other way around. And the least they can do for the consumers who invest in it, whether in terms of time, storage space or real money, is give them the ability to protect their own data.
To use the tagline from the latest Apple ad:
“It’s your data. The iPhone stays that way.
We so wish we could say the same of others.