If Apple’s Tim Cook is right, isn’t he also suggesting we monetise privacy?

An interesting story from the Telegraph today.  I’m sure Apple’s Tim Cook’s views are heartfelt, but it’s also a clever case of marketing.  Or at least that’s how it strikes me – especially as it’s made me change my mind, all of a sudden, about the company’s apparently expensive pricing regimes.  And anything which makes a tight-fisted Luddite like myself do that has to be sourced in the Dark Arts of manipulative adland.  No?

First to the Telegraph‘s treatment of the story.  The URL tells us the original headline was:

“Terrorists should be eliminated,” says Apple’s Tim Cook

Meanwhile, the headline as I see it whilst writing this post runs as follows:

Apple boss: We have a human right to privacy


So it’s clear that the paper continues to act as confusingly as the unfolding tragedy that was Peter Oborne’s recent resignation bombshell made absolutely patent.  But hey-ho, I suppose we can be grateful that it did finally show itself capable of identifying the real meat of today’s story.  Everyone can agree that terrorism (or even terrorists, for that matter – as long as their elimination doesn’t turn us into a sub-group of such behaviours) pretty surely needs eliminating.  Not so many are prepared to come out so fulsomely in favour of the concept of privacy:

Privacy is central to Apple’s belief system, Cook argues, and he is clearly prepared to fight on this issue. He believes that opinion in Europe on this is probably closer to his position than opinion in the US.

And so:

This philosophy has had a number of consequences for the way Apple conducts its operations and how it makes its money.

“Apple has a very straightforward business model,” he said. “We make money if you buy one of these [pointing at an iPhone]. That’s our product. You [the consumer] are not our product. We design our products such that we keep a very minimal level of information on our customers.”

Which means:

[…] Apple is of limited use to the security services: it simply doesn’t retain that much data. The company has only received between 0 and 250 national security orders (it is banned from giving an exact figure) from the US federal authorities, asking it to hand over information; the rumours were that it had been hit by tens of millions of such requests.

That, I have to say, is a bloody incredible stat.  And I can now see the advantage of paying double what you pay for a competitor’s device if you really are skipping the skimming of your personal data and life.

There is that proviso, of course: someone has to demonstrate it is true.  But if it is, I’d far rather pay for a device in dosh than pay for a device with my metadata, my emails, my SMS – or even my medical records (for example).

It does, however, beg the question: you pay if you can afford it.  But what if you can’t?  Is it really fair that only the well-off, those who can afford Apple devices over their Samsung- or Microsoft-based alternatives, should be able to purchase their way into a greater level of privacy than the majority of citizens are currently going to have access to?

Shouldn’t such rights like these exist for everyone, equally?

And as a right to be exercised – not a privilege to be purchased?


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