Let's be clear about the settings for Google using a vulnerability in Safari that allows itself and other online advertisers to set cookies even when the user has explicitly disallow third-party cookies to be uploaded. Google acted like a hacker in this. Forget about the technical details of how this happened. They did it, got caught, and came up with the only explanation they have: the opportunity was there and we took it. And Apple is at fault for allow this to happen because this vulnerability is only inherent with Safari, not even with Chrome or Android's browser which shares the same Webkit framework as Apple's own browser, Firefox, or Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
Now, Congress is looking into this matter. The thing is that Apple could have made this all go away had they come up with the patch to plug this old from the start. I can't understand how Apple could have possibly not know about this.
So far, Apple has stay customarily silent on this matter. And even with a more vocal Tim Cook at the helm, I think for the moment, they would be happy to allow the various reports on the Internet to crucify Google and allow Google's own explanations to hang itself.
That doesn't mean that Apple should not say more publicly about this. After all, Congress is looking into this and, probably, the FTC, FCC, and the DOG are going to want to chime in.
So, Apple is at fault in some of this.
Now, about Google. It acted like a hacker. It broke the faith that users have with Google and went against even the spirit of the Internet as far as trust and privacy is concerned. Google was very much evil in this situation. We did not want to be tracked and Google used a form trick to allow them to install cookies on other sites we visit.
Again, we said "no" to tracking and Google insisted. I hope they get burn big time, regardless of the fact that they claim no personal information was taken. Who really knows if that is even true? We trusted Google on this "no tracking" thing so we can't well take Google's word at this either.
Back to Apple. They really need to make sure that our mobile privacy is protected. Apple has to institute an opt-in policy, which will make it stand out among its competitors like Facebook and Google that has a much more privacy-busting opt-out policy at best and "we're sorry" policy at worst when they are caught trying to circumvent fundamental understandings of privacy.
And Apple should not only allow universal privacy settings like some others have. I like Apple's notification and location services options in settings in its iOS devices. I like to see Apple bring those kinds of control to not just contacts but also other Internet services.
So, hopefully, with future iOS settings, Safari updates, and the upcoming Mountain Lion update for the Mac, Apple will give us the tools to fend off these predatory practices coming from Facebook, Google, and other ad companies.
Saturday, February 18, 2012
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