Apple Says They Aren't Going To Help The CIA And NSA Illegally Spy On Their Customers Any More
Do you believe them? Or any of the big tech companies? They all lied and lied about protecting our privacy while allowing the spy agencies easy access to all our personal information and communications, as though we are all legitimate suspects in some kind of Orwellian dystopia.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, is savvy enough to know how that cooperation with the worst aspects of the National Security State has damage Apple's precious, hard-earned brand, which has already been tattered around the edges. Yesterday Cook released this statement at Apple.com:
At Apple, your trust means everything to us. That’s why we respect your privacy and protect it with strong encryption, plus strict policies that govern how all data is handled.
Security and privacy are fundamental to the design of all our hardware, software, and services, including iCloud and new services like Apple Pay. And we continue to make improvements. Two-step verification, which we encourage all our customers to use, in addition to protecting your Apple ID account information, now also protects all of the data you store and keep up to date with iCloud.
We believe in telling you up front exactly what’s going to happen to your personal information and asking for your permission before you share it with us. And if you change your mind later, we make it easy to stop sharing with us. Every Apple product is designed around those principles. When we do ask to use your data, it’s to provide you with a better user experience.
We’re publishing this website to explain how we handle your personal information, what we do and don’t collect, and why. We’re going to make sure you get updates here about privacy at Apple at least once a year and whenever there are significant changes to our policies.
A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realize that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product. But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy.
Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple.
Finally, I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will.
Our commitment to protecting your privacy comes from a deep respect for our customers. We know that your trust doesn’t come easy. That’s why we have and always will work as hard as we can to earn and keep it.
Earlier today we looked at the widespread belief that Obama Administration has the very worst record in history for transparency, even worse than Cheney and Bush, which is saying a lot. Apple claims that they are "working for greater transparency and protects on behalf of our customers" and that their "commitment to customer privacy doesn't stop because of a government information request. Government information requests," they write, "are a consequence of doing business in the digital age. We believe in being as transparent as the law allows about what information is requested from us. In addition, Apple has never worked with any government agency from any country to create a 'back door' in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed any government access to our servers. And we never will."
Last week we took a look at what Ed Snowden had to say about these kinds of claims that, are, obviously very self serving. From Michael Gurnow's book, The Edward Snowden Affair:
Snowden divulges that his greatest fear is not death but his efforts might ultimately be in vain, "[ ... ] that nothing will change. People will see the media, all of these disclosures [and] they’ll know the lengths that the government is going to grant themselves powers unilaterally to create greater control over American society and global society, but they [the American people] won’t be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and fight to change things, to force their representatives to actually take a stand in their interests." He closes the interview with a prediction of where the current state of affairs might ultimately lead: "And the months ahead, the years ahead, it’s only going to get worse until eventually there will be a time where policies will change because the only thing that restricts the activities of the surveillance state are policy. Even our agreements with other sovereign governments, we consider that to be a stipulation of policy rather than a stipulation of law and because of that, a new leader will be elected ... they’ll find the switch ... say that 'Because of the crisis-- because of the dangers we face in the world-- some new and unpredicted threat, we need more authority, we need more power' and there will be nothing the people can do at that point to oppose it and it will be turnkey tyranny."Apple admits that the "most common requests we receive for information come from law enforcement in the form of either a Device Request or an Account Request. Our legal team carefully reviews each request, ensuring it is accompanied by valid legal process. All content requests require a search warrant. If we are legally compelled to divulge any information and it is not counterproductive to the facts of the case, we provide notice to the customer when allowed and deliver the narrowest set of information possible in response. National security-related requests are not considered Device Requests or Account Requests and are reported in a separate category altogether.
Early in the dialogue, Greenwald bluntly puts to Snowden, "Does it [the intelligence community] target the actions of Americans?" Greenwald wants to have the world hear, directly from the lips of a high-ranking ex-CIA employee and NSA contractor, what is taking place behind the surveillance curtain.
"The NSA, and intelligence community in general, is focused on getting intelligence wherever it can, by any means possible. It believes-- on the grounds of sort of a self-certification-- that they serve the national interest. Originally we saw that focus very narrowly tailored as foreign intelligence gathered overseas. Now, increasingly, we see that it’s happening domestically and to do that they, the NSA specifically, targets the communications of everyone. It ingests them by default. It collects them in its system and it filters them and it analyses them and it measures them and it stores them for periods of time simply because that’s the easiest, most efficient, and most valuable way to achieve these ends." He continues, "Any analyst at any time can target anyone, any selector, anywhere. Where those communications will be picked up depends on the range of the sensor networks and the authorities that analyst is empowered with. Not all analysts have the ability to target everything, but I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone from you or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the president if I had a personal e-mail." He adds that the American populace should take notice "[b]ecause even if you’re not doing anything wrong, you’re being watched and recorded, and the storage capability of these systems increases every year consistently by orders of magnitude to where it’s getting to the point where you don’t have to have done anything wrong. You simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody even by a wrong call, and then they can use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you’ve ever made, every friend you’ve ever discussed something with and attack you on that basis to sort of derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer."
"On devices running iOS 8, your personal data such as photos, messages (including attachments), email, contacts, call history, iTunes content, notes, and reminders is placed under the protection of your passcode. Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data. So it's not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8."
Sounds like an ad. But the trade press seems persuaded and, of course, Yahoo couldn't be more eager to sing Apple's praises. How about you? Do you believe them?