Sal C

Let’s not elevate Apple’s ethics and morality above the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Consider the iCloud terms of service and look specifically for “Conduct”, “Removal of Content” sections and what follows. By using iCloud you agree not to use it for unlawful purposes; you agree that Apple has no obligation to pre-screen your content (good) but you also have to agree that: “Apple reserves the right at all times to determine whether Content is appropriate and in compliance with this Agreement, and may pre-screen, move, refuse, modify and/or remove Content at any time, without prior notice and in its sole discretion, if such Content is found to be in violation of this Agreement or is otherwise objectionable.”

Just a few paragraphs below that Apple states: “Apple reserves the right to take steps Apple believes are reasonably necessary or appropriate to enforce and/or verify compliance with any part of this Agreement. You acknowledge and agree that Apple may, without liability to you, access, use, preserve and/or disclose your Account information and Content to law enforcement authorities, government officials, and/or a third party, as Apple believes is reasonably necessary or appropriate, if legally required to do so”

And of course there are provisions for DMCA (heavens forbid you copy MP3s) and a statement granting Apple unlimited rights to publish the content you marked as public: “However, by submitting or posting such Content on areas of the Service that are accessible by the public or other users with whom you consent to share such Content, you grant Apple a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive license to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform and publicly display such Content on the Service solely for the purpose for which such Content was submitted or made available, without any compensation or obligation to you.”

None of this is morally or ethically different from Google Drive TOS,or Dropbox TOS. Any other cloud service that offers you a mechanism to store personal information is going to give you the same exact or similar in spirit terms of service document. Facebook does the same thing, Instagram, Flickr, etc.

Nowhere in the legal documentation does Apple state that they completely recuse themselves from control over what is stored in iCloud or how it is encrypted. They also go out of their way to point out that the TOS may change without advance notice at any time. Apple’s attorneys won’t let them turn themselves into Freenet (which, by the way, you should consider using if you are really concerned about your privacy).

The issue with Android device encryption has more to do with Android’s relative immaturity compared to iOS (and it is catching up fast), and fragmentation of the market. It is not up to Google to hold the keys to every Android phone manufactured — it is up to the manufacturers. This is why you don’t hear often about Google not complying with the FBI requests. Only with Android 6.0 has Google started requiring phones to be encrypted. Google’s CEO did side with Apple in the FBI encryption case as well.

More importantly is the question of trust. I use a 1 Terabyte Dropbox Pro subscription, for instance, but I would never put something truly private in Dropbox. I store that on my own hard-drive, encrypted. If one does need to store things in a cloud provider they are free to use their own encryption if they don’t trust them — and they should.

We all use plenty of cloud services beyond the core functionality offered by Apple or Google. We provide our personal information to these companies in exchange for some convenience. But in the end, we need to remember that we are the ones who are fully in control of the situation.

Like what you read? Give Oleg Dulin a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.