Why doesn't Apple offer me the choice to opt-out of this "Differential privacy"?

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by AbsintheAbstinence, Jun 14, 2016.

  1. AbsintheAbstinence, Jun 14, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2016

    AbsintheAbstinence macrumors newbie

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    #1
    Some people do work on their devices that is very private in nature. By buying an Apple product I am not wishing to opt in to being a consumer research study specimen, why am I not given the opportunity to opt out? Even without a profile or identity attached to the information collection I am personally not interested in anything on my device being catalogged for research purposes

    http://www.macrumors.com/2016/06/14/apple-touts-differential-privacy-in-ios-10/
     
  2. aristobrat macrumors G4

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    #2
    The way that options have fluctuated in/out throughout previous betas, perhaps (if there truly is no opt-out option in this beta -- are you actually running the Developer Beta?) it's because they want to collect data during the beta period to verify the obfuscating features are working, and an opt-out option will be added later.
     
  3. oneMadRssn macrumors 68040

    oneMadRssn

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    #3
    I'm not sure I understand what you want to opt out of.

    Differential privacy is more of an idea than a specific feature. I don't think you can opt out of an idea per se. You can always choose not to use the features that employ the differential privacy idea. For example, you can turn off storing location data in photos you take, and thus the Photos app won't be able to use that information to arrange your photos based on location.
     
  4. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #4
    But shouldn't we as a consumer have the ability to tell apple not to collect the information if we choose? I understand to make their services on par with Google and Microsoft's, they need to increase the amount of data thy collect like Google and MS does, but do so in a way that protects our privacy. While I'll not argue if Apple's approach is better or not, I think selecting what goes back to the mothership should still be our decision.
     
  5. oneMadRssn macrumors 68040

    oneMadRssn

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    #5
    Are we sure it isn't? Currently iOS has a setting to limit ad tracking and to limit what reporting is sent back to Apple or developers. I don't see anything that suggests the idea of "differential privacy" will remove those choices.
     
  6. AbsintheAbstinence thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #6
    What differential privacy appears to be: Your information is being catalogged and sent to Apple without the use of any identifying information. So it would include the stuff you type. The phrases you use. Etc.

    Seems fine right?

    Cool

    This is a built-in market research tool in their device. To hire a group for market research would cost money and yet I'm paying my money to buy these products and I don't want my habits monitored and interpreted by an algorithm. I should be able to opt out. I should be able to change my settings so my information isn't sent to any third party
     
  7. aristobrat macrumors G4

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    #7
    Agreed.

    Have you seen anything stated by Apple (or in the Beta) that says that you can't?
     
  8. lennyeiger macrumors member

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    #8
    I don't think you folks understand. This war is over. We lost.
    The idea that you could put a setting on your computer, or your browser, that suggests that you want to be left out of marketing is simply not in consideration. Apple wants to pre-load everything, so their systems look fast. Every other company wants to know what's on your computer, who you talk to, etc. Apple makes this available. Why are tracking cookies allowed at all? I mean, even my medical provider, Kaiser Permanente, sent me a privacy policy that told me my info was going to be made available - to whomever they want. My bank sent me something that should have been called "Your lack of privacy rights". Have you gone to Top Sites, clicked off of Bing, Weather.com, Yahoo and the others? It's that checkbox that's supposed to mean they should never load there. Restart the browser and there they are. Do you have a Cookie manager that can show you what's going on? Ghostery? Have you ever looked at Little Snitch? Or inside your Console? The traffic is constant, endless. If you try to stop it, you will find its a full-time job. And, of course, then you won't be able to watch a video, read the news, etc.
    Even the adorable Eddy Cue said he thought everyone had a right to shop from any place they wanted to. Last I checked life wasn't really all about consumerism. There were at least a couple of other things to consider....
    There ought to be a major revolution against this... but it seems there is much ignorance and complacency.
     
  9. Phogro macrumors member

    Phogro

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    #9
    Maybe I'm naive, but I just don't see what danger this is to letting Apple interrupt my usage data in order to bring me a more predictive user experience. I could see it being a problem if this data was somehow able to be tracked back to me, or my device, but from what I understand (and I'm taking Apple's word for it) Differential Privacy makes that impossible.

    Is it the fear that Apple is lying?
    Is it the fear that Differential Privacy is not as secure as we assume it is because it hasn't be fully tested on a large scale system like this yet?
    Is there something else?
     
  10. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #10
    I'm not sure, but I'm puttting it out there, that it would be nice to have
     
  11. Pakaku macrumors 68000

    Pakaku

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    #11
    If it's not possible, then don't use it, don't upgrade to it, find a better alternative, etc.

    I'd like to know if an app like LittleSnitch could detect and block it, since it's all being sent to Apple over the network.
     
  12. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #12
    Dollars to donuts, a LittleSnitch like app would never pass Apple's approval process for iOS apps - especially if it was trying to monitor apple's services dialing back to the mothership
     
  13. lowendlinux Contributor

    lowendlinux

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    #13
    Why should the user not have the choice? Things like this should always be an explicit opt in.
     
  14. lennyeiger macrumors member

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    #14
    I don't want to be mean or disrespectful, but in fact, I believe you are being naive. Before recent changes in medical coverage, if a company knew you had diabetes (or any other expensive medical condition) you might not get a job as it would raise the cost of their insurance. What if you did everything right in your life but had HIV, from say, a bad transfusion? You likely wouldn't get the job even without the new "pre-existing condition" laws.

    Consider in today's political climate if you were from an Arab country, and living in the US, regardless of your religious or political leanings. Would it be safe to have that information available to everyone? Of course not.

    What if you were gay? What if you were Black or Latino and never did anything illegal, but just knew someone who did. Maybe a neighbor, or, maybe the parents were a family friend. If someone wanted to make a "by association" case they probably could. Especially if you are on Facebook, search for things on Google, use Google apps, Gmail, etc.

    My brother, a while male, was once picked up by the police because he was driving the same kind of car as someone who had just committed a crime. He was held all night, had the crap beat out of him before they let him go, saying, "Gee, we're sorry".

    I hear from a lot of people that the have "nothing to hide" that it doesn't matter. But it does matter. Studies show that when people know they are being watched, they exhibit different behavior. We live in a dangerous world. What would you do if you were the child of an illegal immigrant? Would you want the government to know about your parents.

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely. That's how it goes. When the government, Apple, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc., know everything about you it won't be healthy.

    Even the most subtle shift of searching for something and having the results tuned to who they think you are - well it means you won't discover anything new or different in your life - your growth (and understanding) will be severely hampered. These are the issues of our day and it is important that everyone educate themselves about this and make up their own mind. Read 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 and a few others and see if there are parallels to what is happening today. is it a world we want? Has it already happened?

    I'm pretty sure the corporate media have us right where they want us. It's going to get quite a bit rougher soon.
     
  15. NT1440 macrumors G4

    NT1440

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    #15
    From watching the Platform State of the Union, there is a hard limit on the number of data points that can be brought over from any particular user, and Apple cannot identify individual users if they wanted. This means that they are dealing with data points and not you personally.

    All the other AI stuff is done on the device itself.

    In a world where anytime you visit any website whatsoever and are tracked, this is a decent compromise. I'd vastly prefer your suggestion, but unfortunately none of these services will work without these kinds of collection.
     
  16. Zirel Suspended

    Zirel

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    #16
    Who said you cannot choose?

    It's opt-in, not opt-out, even!
     
  17. Phogro macrumors member

    Phogro

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    #17
    I think we are on the same page in regards to privacy - I think it's important and should be secured. What I think we disagree on is the concept that what Apple is doing here is fundamentally different than what Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft etc. are doing.

    I agree that we have to take a leap of faith that Apple isn't lying to us, but I have to believe that a company as high profile as Apple who has stood out as an advocate for privacy so publicly in recent years, has our best interests in mind.

    So the question to you, and everyone else who wants to opt out of this idea is:

    IF (we are talking hypothetical here) you could prove without a doubt that there is 0% chance of Apple or anyone else seeing your data and using it in any other way than to simply improve your on device experience, are you still against this? And if so - what's your objection?
     
  18. loby macrumors 6502a

    loby

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    #18
    Agree. The average consumer does not know or care about these things. Cannot just use the "don't buy" mentality. That will not work. The tech companies have done a good job at training the next very large consumer market generation to not be concerned about privacy, but set the stage for being "transparent" in all things generation as we see that with selfies, social media etc.

    This battle was lost longer than most realize...
     
  19. lennyeiger macrumors member

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    #19
    When I buy a computer, why should it give anyone access to my info, my buying habits, whether or not it can be traced directly to me? Why are they entitled to that information? I see nothing wrong with a store tracking what I bought in the case I want to buy it again, on their local servers. I don't think that I should have to show others on Facebook what I bought, unless I really want to. I don't think the information should be available to any other vendor. I don't think it should be invisible to me, either. What is Adobe reading off my drive? Why? Why are there so many things going back and forth in Little Snitch, or the Console?

    I don't follow this closely, so I can't speak authoritatively here, but there is also a fairly extensive set of research that suggests that filtering one's search results based on perceived personal preferences limits one's vision, the width of the info that is presented, etc. It limits one's creativity and ability to think out of the box.

    We believe to the extent of the information stream we have access to. My politics lean one way and I listen to media that is in the same vein. When I find someone else that listens to another set of media, their beliefs are very strong in another direction. Limiting the channels is a bad idea.

    Still, this is laziness. It used to be that computers got faster and faster each year. The MacPro is long in the tooth. They have spent all their energy in "pre-loading" everything so that it looks faster instead of giving us a more advanced machine.

    Finally, I don't want targeted ads. I don't want any ads at all. I remember when the movie Blade Runner first came out. It was striking as there were TV screens everywhere, and ads on everything. It was quite a shock, feat the time could believe that was a possible future. It didn't look so good... Now we live there. Life is not about consumerism, it isn't about how much you've been able to acquire or how you've been able to acquire products that really define you, or express who you are. Life is about much deeper things...
     
  20. aristobrat macrumors G4

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    #20
    IMO, some data collection lends itself to that. Not all data collection leads to targeted ads and/or direct consumerism.

    I'm very excited that Photos in iOS 10 (and presumably the new macOS) will be able to sort automatically photos by location, brings back face recognition, and appears to do some background recognition (scenery type [beach, mountain, etc], animals in photos, etc), as well as auto-group them to help remember events.

    I'm also very excited that this is all done directly on my devices, and that unlike with Google (and other services, all who have had this feature for years), I don't have to create an account that identifies who I am, and then proceed to upload all of my photos to them.

    If generic metadata collection results in two decades worth of photos being better organized for me in a way that brings back memories of things I've since forgotten (not because I don't have the pictures to remind me, but because I don't have a realistic way to manually sort through 90,000 photos to be reminded of a memory that may have slipped my mind), then sign me up.
     
  21. lennyeiger macrumors member

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    #21
    I appreciate that Apple has finally decided to get with it on privacy. They have a better solution than Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Adobe, Att, Sprint, and every web site that tries to install tracking cookies on everyone's machine. I don't mind things going out to the net to get something done. I don't need a closed system, I just think the whole concept of using our information for their own purposes is wrong. Especially the personal information.
     
  22. Phogro macrumors member

    Phogro

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    #22
    From what I understand Apple isn't using this data for anything other than to improve the end user's experience on their devices - that is to say they aren't using it for their own purposes.
     
  23. lennyeiger macrumors member

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    #23
    You may be correct. However, I'm guessing it wasn't always this way. The other services, Gmail, for example, has been very clear that they read all your email. The NSA records every phone conversation. not only in the US but in many other countries. Location services allow them to track your movements everywhere. Is that good?

    I'm not a criminal and don't plan on becoming one, but this tracking is not right...
     
  24. mildocjr macrumors 65816

    #24
    This is the nature of deep learning algorithms and helping software create things for you. You can't very well paint a picture of a circus if you don't have any context to go off of. (e.g. circus in the 1900s vs today, traditional circus or something more like cirque du soleil)

    The point that is made here is that Apple has to say they collect your data because it's your data that is being processed by their server. Even if it's never seen by human eyes, they have to say this. The big criticism that deep learning and big data has around it is due to companies like Google and Microsoft, who were known to take this data and sell it to third parties. Apple isn't looking to sell data to third parties, instead they want to be a one stop shop for you.

    Take your photos for example, in order to create memories the server has to "look" at each picture and determine things like when it was taken, where it was taken and what's in the picture to determine which order your memory album should be in. Based on the colors and actions of the album determines the default sound.

    Apple looking at your data is the equivalent of you looking at the picture below, or any picture of a random person on the web and telling me who it is. The context is there but nothing of great personally identifiable information is there.

    [​IMG]

    For text suggestions in Messages, it doesn't care about you specifically, it's just looking for new trends, it collects all of the words and says ok which word has the most hits. "I" probably has a lot; "love", "have" "am" would be good choices for a follow up word just because it saw that 90,000,000 other users used these words behind "I".

    When you convert this to a data point, it works about like a dictionary, any time a new word is given to the server it adds it to the dictionary, the number of times it has been used is the definition of the dictionary and this is incremented by 1 everytime it sees it. For the "see also" section of the definition it will contain the words "love" "have" and "am" next to the word "I".

    Going off the past two paragraphs, you might end up with "I": 90,000,000 : "love", "have", "am".

    If you were to say "I have diabetes" It would add one to each of these words "I" would have yet another association to "have" but would know nothing about "diabetes" so "have diabetes" could be you, me, the neighbor, or anyone else.

    This is essentially data points and how businesses use them in context. The problem is no one ever explained it out, instead they just get caught up with "sold it to third parties" and people assume the entire sentence was sold off.

    TL ; DR: I spent some time writing this, be an adult and read it.
     
  25. C DM macrumors Westmere

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    #25
    And that doesn't really have much to do with what Apple is doing here, does it?
     

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