Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Zero Privacy, Big Data, Oxygen-Deprived Birthers

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Woo boy, there’s a whole bunch of news breaking on this pre-Royal Wedding hump day.

First, the birther movement took a shot through its bow after U.S. President Barack Obama released a copy of his long-form birth certificate.

You could almost feel Donald Trump’s personal jet decompress on approach to New Hampshire as wind of this release was announced.  After he was off the plane and in front of the microphones, he had this to say: “I am very proud of myself.”

Ooh boy, it’s going to be a long presidential campaign season, particularly as Trump tries to navigate his way through the mine fields of the global media.

But before he can claim to fire anyone, he first probably needs to get his bearings a bit, what with being on the move so much.

And what better way to do so than to buy an iPhone!

Unlike the Donald, Apple is working to get ahead of the end of the story and released this long Q&A about iPhone location data.

First question:

Q. Why is Apple tracking the location of my iPhone?

A: Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.

The Q&A went on to explain just how Apple is not tracking the location of iPhones, and that UK data scientists Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden instead found a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and celltowers that can help the iPhone quickly calculate one’s location.

We say pry-vacy, the Brits say priv-acy, you say tomato, I say tomoto.

Apple insists they will shortly be offering up a fix to minimize how much of this data is stored, and also to encrypt that data moving forward.

See, I seem to have the opposite problem.

Whenever I need to use my iPhone, I can never seem to find the darn thing. So maybe they need to offer up a software fix that allows me to locate it when I’ve once again left it embedded somewhere deep in my couch.

Good thing Apple, then, seems to be doubling-down on the practical benefits of privacy invasion.

That is to say, also found in the Q&A: Apple is now collecting anonymous traffic data to build a crowd-sourced traffic database with the goal of providing iPhone users an improved traffic service in the next couple of years. 

Regardless of your own privacy paranoia (my privacy threshold is pretty moderate, and even this story didn’t get that much under my skin), Apple may have not done itself any favors waiting a week to respond, as the imbroglio has only blown all out of proportion during the interim.

But the Apple PR team seems to consistently operate on at least a one-week delay, so no new news there.

And I still love their products, Orwellian or no.

But yes, I do chuckle when I think back to their commercial targeting IBM as the consummate Big Brother in Apple’s 1984 Superbowl TV spot.  I hope Ogilvy Vice Chairman and Chief Creative Officer Steve Hayden gets a laugh from it as well.

Steve was at Chiat-Day working for Apple in those days and guided the development of that classic commercial of Apple woman freeing humanity from the IBM corporate drones (although we much prefer the work Steve and Ogilvy did for IBM on our e-business campaign.)

Speaking of loving products, according to the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo is considering spinning out the engineering group responsible for Hadoop and has apparently been in talks with Benchmark Capital about forming a company.

IBM and Cloudera are already major Hadoop supporters, and considering that Yahoo was the Hadoop dance that brung us all, would say welcome (back?) to the Big Data Analytics party.

What with all that iPhone data being gathered, and all the various short, long, medium, large and other formats of the President Obama’s birther certificates, and all the variant ways the Donald is congratulating himself for having made the President, err, blink  — well, there’s going to be ample big data to analyze for years to come.

I just wonder if it will help lead us anywhere…anywhere but deep back into the folds of my couch.

Written by turbotodd

April 27, 2011 at 4:01 pm

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