Apple’s privacy push in Safari is just PR grandstanding

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I finally got around to watching WWDC and noticed how strongly Apple is pushing the privacy angle especially in Safari, even throwing Facebook under the bus. I was excited but then remembered: Google is the default search engine in Safari and I believe Siri too! If this privacy push was genuine, Apple would demand a special privacy centric version of Google search as the default for Safari, or they would just set DuckDuckGo as the default. I like Apple but this made me roll my eyes

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13 responses to “Apple’s privacy push in Safari is just PR grandstanding”

  1. Avatar

    TEAMSWITCHER

    I think you are conflating a Google problem with an Apple one? Apple is trying to protect you where they can, because your personal information is NOT what they derive profit from. Unfortunately .. other tech giants don't have that business model. In other words ... Google would never provide Apple a privacy centric search engine.

  2. Avatar

    Chris_Kez

    If Apple was really serious they could make DDG the default search engine and create their own ad-blocker that was turned on by default. But that would piss off too many people.

  3. Avatar

    lvthunder

    How can you prescribe motives to what they are doing? None of you know why they are doing this. Did you talk to the developers writing Safari? My guess is no you didn't. So how can you possibly know what there motives are?


    I look at it this way. At least they are shining a light on the issue that most people don't even know is happening. You don't see any of the other popular browsers doing that.

  4. Avatar

    aThingOrTwo

    I think after cookie consent and GDPR it is obvious that fixing privacy on the web will involve more than adding dialogs and buttons which most users will just click anyway.


    I agree if Apple was really concerned about privacy they would be looking at the following strategies:


    * Building or buying their own search engine.

    * Making Safari the best and most used browser (bringing it (back) to Windows and Linux and spending many millions on advertising).

    * Working with W3C and other standards organisations to introduce new standards and policies for privacy by default.

    * Researching and developing alternative revenue models and strategies to acknowledge value on the web (blockchain?).


    This just feels like fixing the symptom (in a rather inelegant way) rather than tackling the root causes.



    Edit: And it's been tried before:



    • Avatar

      lvthunder

      In reply to aThingOrTwo:

      Here are my comments on each of your *s.


      Ask Microsoft how well it's going running a search engine. It's just a money pit.


      Why does Apple care about you on Windows and Linux? They want you to switch to the Mac or an iPad. They aren't a charity.


      Do you know they aren't doing that?


      Again do you know that aren't doing that?

    • Avatar

      jimchamplin

      In reply to aThingOrTwo:

      Sure, it would be nice if they did all of that. If they did all of that instead, though, the current issues would still exist. I’m happy that someone out there is thinking of my privacy. Sales point or not, it’s a differentiator that matters to a lot of people.

      • Avatar

        aThingOrTwo

        I think either I have failed to explain properly or you are not thinking it through properly.


        Of course the current issues around privacy would be addressed if Apple had success in these strategies because they all aggressively target the revenue streams of "data" companies. Hence the need to go after Windows and Linux and add a search engine - it is about taking control and redefining the rules of play to put the needs and priorities of users first, not advertisers. Of course Apple is not a charity so part of that redefinition would also involve putting the needs of Apple first as well.


        Throwing up dialogs in a browser with ~10% market share doesn't really move the needle in tackling the issues. A profound shift would be required to reinvent the business model on the web - it is needs a far more ambitious and holisitic approach.


        I can only judge Apple on the actions they have taken against the actions which they could be taking given money and resources are pretty much not a problem. None of us know what they are planning - so it is a bit irrelevant bringing it up.

  5. Avatar

    Rick Foux

    I don't believe for a second that Apple has my best interests in mind when they try to spin privacy as a selling point, but then again I feel the same about Google, Microsoft, or Amazon. These are corporations who are looking to turn a profit and will use me (an average consumer) to do so, albeit each one of them has their own way(s) of achieving that. None of these corporations give me warm fuzzies or instill a sense of brand loyalty in my mind when they talk about privacy and/or security.

  6. Avatar

    jimchamplin

    Unfortunately Facebook was only thrown under a proverbial bus. I’d love to see the thing just crushed into bits.


    As for the core of this, I'm happy that the choice exists. Apple isn't doing it out of pure altruism, that's for sure, but they are doing it and I feel better using their products and services because of it. In the end, all it does is make me give my money to Apple instead of Google, right? Okay, so the tactic worked. I could choose the greater functionality of Google's ecosystem and OS but I don't.


    Whenever I imagine these companies as individuals, personifying their nature, I see Google as the "Honest John" type who's over there with coupons and loss-leader offers and "cuttin' me own throat 'ere" tactics. The products he's selling are just as good, but something about how he's offering them just makes you feel funky. He really plays down that he's trying to get all your money and also puts up a front that he's gonna really change the world.


    Apple is a smooth Tony Stark who comes and says up front that he's here to make money today, intends to keep making money in the future, and tells you the ways he's going to give you something that's better in these key ways that he can do better because he wants you to keep coming back as a customer. There's no pretense. He makes a thing that's great for certain people who are willing to pay more, and also know how to talk to other businesses and get them to make special stuff for his customers which makes his gadget even better. All to make sure that you keep coming back. You either trust the guy because he's up-front about wanting your money, or you think he's a crook.


    Microsoft is the honest but senile and doddering old mom-and-pop shopkeeper who still likes to "do things the old fashion way" who can't seem to ever understand why these younger businessmen keep stealing their customers. At least again, he's up front about wanting your business. He just can't figure out how to get it.

  7. Avatar

    jimchamplin

    In reply to Chris_Kez:

    First-party site cookies enable a lot of the functionality expected from the web. It would be like saying that an app can't permanently save to disk, but can only have a temporary cache that will be killed at the OS shell's leisure. Did you have any data in that app? Screw you, scalawag! It's gone!


    This stuff is a balancing act between privacy and functionality. To say that they'll screw over third-party trackers and not first-party cookies isn't fair. If they were as aggressive as what you're talking about, then it would break a lot of sites.


    To be certain, I'm not calling you a scalawag, Chris. Instead, it's the hypothetical end-user in that hellish alternate reality which works that way.

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