Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 8th Jun 2015 20:04 UTC
Talk, Rumors, X Versus Y

Over the past few weeks - following an important-but-barbed talk from Apple CEO Tim Cook - the rhetoric has turned to privacy and security and data and how only products you pay for are good and any sort of free services are inherently bad and basically whore out what's left of your post-Snowden soul.

It's an important discussion to have. And one we'll continue to have. But it's not one-sided. It's not binary.

And, actually, it's interesting to see how the rhetoric has changed recently.

Ouch.

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A couple of nitpicks:
by Morgan on Mon 8th Jun 2015 20:54 UTC
Morgan
Member since:
2005-06-29

Google does things differently. But it also continues to do them openly, and did so from the beginning.


Um, no. They went from an open protocol (XMPP) to their completely closed Hangouts platform for messaging. They took mass storage support away from us on Android, and along with it the nearly ubiquitous OS support it offered. They replaced it with MTP/PTP, which works natively on Windows, but has no official support on OS X. Linux support is hit-or-miss, with different releases of the same distro dropping or adding support at random, and often requires third party packages. Google keeps the information they store about you (and they store everything) possibly forever[1].

Or go back to when Google Now was announced in 2012. The all-knowing predictive service is still being attacked as demanding to know too much about our lives — never mind that we have to explicitly let it in.


Except that it starts tracking your information before you explicitly allow it. It does this so it can show you what it does, and that seems fairly innocuous, but the fact remains that it has your information from the moment you log into your Google account on the phone. All your "permission" does is allow it to show you what it already knew about you.



[1] https://tosdr.org/#google

Reply Score: 3

RE: A couple of nitpicks:
by chithanh on Mon 8th Jun 2015 22:39 UTC in reply to "A couple of nitpicks:"
chithanh Member since:
2006-06-18

You can still connect with any XMPP client to Hangouts. Open federation no longer works, but that was mainly a source of spam anyway.

PTP works fine with almost any desktop Linux distribution. MTP also works fine at least with Ubuntu official packages.

MTP is standardized by the USB IF by the way. If Apple chooses to not implement this standard, their loss.

Also dropping USB MSC in favor of MTP (or a similar file based instead of block based protocol) is a prerequisite to get rid of FAT32 on Android.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: A couple of nitpicks:
by ddc_ on Mon 8th Jun 2015 22:51 UTC in reply to "RE: A couple of nitpicks:"
ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

Open federation no longer works, but that was mainly a source of spam anyway.

It also was a source of legitimate traffic. It was also a way to connect to some transport services and have all your different IM services in one application, at least until lemmings rushed to walled IM services that dominate the industry now.

Edited 2015-06-08 22:52 UTC

Reply Score: 6

RE[3]: A couple of nitpicks:
by chithanh on Tue 9th Jun 2015 00:04 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: A couple of nitpicks:"
chithanh Member since:
2006-06-18

Indeed, for a few users (myself included) open federation was a good thing.

For the vast majority however, it was an annoyance.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: A couple of nitpicks:
by Morgan on Mon 8th Jun 2015 22:52 UTC in reply to "RE: A couple of nitpicks:"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

PTP works fine with almost any desktop Linux distribution.


Sure, if all you want is to pull your pictures off very slowly. It doesn't allow you to access your other files, and it doesn't allow you to rearrange files and folders on the device via your desktop OS.

MTP also works fine at least with Ubuntu official packages.


Again, that depends on the release. I've seen it work on older versions of Ubuntu and not on newer ones, and on the ones lacking support it may or may not be available via PPAs. If you're not on Ubuntu, forget it. Of course, as far as Google is concerned there are only two Linux distros: Ubuntu and Gentoo.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: A couple of nitpicks:
by chithanh on Tue 9th Jun 2015 00:12 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: A couple of nitpicks:"
chithanh Member since:
2006-06-18

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS can do MTP using only official packages.

Of course, as far as Google is concerned there are only two Linux distros: Ubuntu and Gentoo.

With Ubuntu and its derivatives you have already covered the Linux desktop market pretty well.

Reply Score: 3

RE: A couple of nitpicks:
by ddc_ on Mon 8th Jun 2015 22:42 UTC in reply to "A couple of nitpicks:"
ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

They took mass storage support away from us on Android, and along with it the nearly ubiquitous OS support it offered. They replaced it with MTP/PTP, which works natively on Windows, but has no official support on OS X. Linux support is hit-or-miss, with different releases of the same distro dropping or adding support at random, and often requires third party packages.

FWIW this decision had technical merits. Mass storage interface required separate FAT-formatted partition for user-accessible data, which introduced a race-to-bottom among vendors, who tended to asign most weight to user data when partitioning storage device. One would argue that getting rid of FAT partition outweights the benefits of mass storage access.

MTP has a lot of rough edges, and Google could do better. The very fact that MTP enumerates data formats shows that it is as much crap as most other products of its developer. Still, it allows concurrent access to data on Android device and on host machine. I don't know about OSX support status, but elsewhere in Unix land it is supported by libmtp with several dedicated tools, including fuse-based filesystem and GVFS plugin. Synchronous transfers are also a nice feature for devices suffering from fast datacable rot.

All things considered, I belive that technical merit vastly overshadows loss in interoperability in this particular case. I wouldn't mind if Google used ftp instead though.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: A couple of nitpicks:
by Morgan on Mon 8th Jun 2015 22:57 UTC in reply to "RE: A couple of nitpicks:"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

I get that it's to enable them to move away from fat32, and I don't blame them for that. My thing is, if they are going to take away mass storage, how about making sure what they move to works as good as or even better. MTP has always been a mess and a kludge, it's like replacing a broken glass with a broken mug and still expecting it to hold water.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: A couple of nitpicks:
by Flatland_Spider on Mon 8th Jun 2015 23:56 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: A couple of nitpicks:"
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

A mess and a kludge is pretty much sums up the way physical interoperability works between operating systems.

I can format my flash media with ext2 and just use them with Linux/Unix-like operating systems.

I format them with HPFS+ and just use them with OS X.

I can format them with exFat and just use them with OS X and Windows.

Alternately, I can format them with Fat32, and have everything I could possibly encounter read them. This includes my car.

I've been waiting for everyone to adopt a common standard that isn't based on fragile 80's technology, but that's apparently not going to happen anytime soon because no one cares.

It's not like people aren't putting in the work to make better filesystems for flash devices. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_file_system)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: A couple of nitpicks:
by hobgoblin on Tue 9th Jun 2015 19:46 UTC in reply to "RE: A couple of nitpicks:"
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

Funny thing is that if Google wanted they could make Android talk UMS at one end, and treat it as an app doing RW actions at the other.

But no, they had to adopt the hairbrained Microsoft created extension of PTP.

I swear the whole thing reeks of a backroom agreement between Google and big media so that the latter would offer music and video via Google's storefront.

This because the initial introduction of MTP happened alongside a new permission for SD cards that in effect made them read only (the write permission could only be requested by system apps unless the OEM patched their Android release), and the introduction of media content to Android Marketplace (soon after rebranded to Google Play).

Reply Score: 2

Comment by shmerl
by shmerl on Mon 8th Jun 2015 21:12 UTC
shmerl
Member since:
2010-06-08

It completely misses the point. Google / Facebook services aren't free. People pay for them with their privacy. However trusting anyone like Apple just because they are charging isn't any better at all. I.e. the fact of charging itself doesn't guarantee anything - a lot depends on the service and those who run it.

Fully distributed services can offload costs by distributing them to the end user and can as well be more privacy respectful because they have no monetary interests.

Edited 2015-06-08 21:15 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE: Comment by shmerl
by WorknMan on Mon 8th Jun 2015 21:26 UTC in reply to "Comment by shmerl"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

I.e. the fact of charging itself doesn't guarantee anything - a lot depends on the service and those who run it.


Wasn't it Verizon that was hijacking HTTP headers to track everything their customers did? I think it's safe to assume any online service you use is whoring out your data, regardless of whether you're paying for them or not. Even if they say they aren't, there's really no way for you to know.

Reply Score: 6

Comment by stormcrow
by stormcrow on Mon 8th Jun 2015 22:43 UTC
stormcrow
Member since:
2015-03-10

...how only products you pay for are good and any sort of free services are inherently bad and basically whore out what's left of your post-Snowden soul.


What a hypocrite! OS-X's userland is based on the completely free and BSD licensed FreeBSD. If free software is such an anathema to security and privacy why the is OS-X based upon several free software projects, and not just FreeBSD!

I realize he's trying to justify his own company's software's premium price tag, but he's building an air castle to do it. Apple isn't known for secure software practices, and without secure software practices and implementations you can't have privacy. It's debatable that OS-X & iOS are any more (or less) secure than their competitors and therefore any more private. As for data that Apple keeps, I wouldn't trust them as far as I could throw Apple HQ.

What keeps Apple from selling their customer data? Nothing! Corporations change policies at the drop of a hat and there's nothing stopping Apple from doing a 180 and start selling customer data to anyone with the money to buy it even if you are paying for the service. There are plenty of corporations that do just that! Think a class action breach of contract lawsuit is going to stop a company with over $40 billion in cash in the bank? This is Apple and what they tell their customers is best, always. The king can do no wrong.

Just how safe is any of that information they are keeping on their own servers? Impossible to know without source & practices audits from reputable security institutes and reviewable source code (including all firmware code as recently been so dramatically pointed out with firmware malware hacks in the wild). Somehow I could just see Snowden giving Cook the Linus Salute.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by stormcrow
by Flatland_Spider on Tue 9th Jun 2015 00:05 UTC in reply to "Comment by stormcrow"
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

Free, opaque services is what Tim is targeting. You know the sweet treats Google and Facebook give away.

Free open source software which is transparent and auditable is something entirely different.

The billions of dollars they have in the bank is what's keeping them from selling the data, and brand reputation. Selling data would be the quickest way to sink the Apple brand.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by stormcrow
by Lennie on Tue 9th Jun 2015 17:28 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by stormcrow"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

For all you know, they could already be selling their customers data.

Most of the time customers don't know what is being sold and to whom.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by stormcrow
by leos on Tue 9th Jun 2015 01:47 UTC in reply to "Comment by stormcrow"
leos Member since:
2005-09-21


What keeps Apple from selling their customer data? Nothing! Corporations change policies at the drop of a hat and there's nothing stopping Apple from doing a 180 and start selling customer data to anyone with the money to buy it even if you are paying for the service.


If you consider destroying their reputation nothing, then yes, nothing is stopping them.

Fact is, Apple is hanging their hat on privacy more and more these days. They talked about it at length again today at WWDC. For them to turn around and betray that would cost them massively.

The simple fact is that Apple makes their profit from hardware sales. They want to keep that going, and a huge differentiator from Google is that they don't advertise to you and don't live and breathe off your data. Always follow the money.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by stormcrow
by Alfman on Tue 9th Jun 2015 03:27 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by stormcrow"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

leos,

The simple fact is that Apple makes their profit from hardware sales. They want to keep that going, and a huge differentiator from Google is that they don't advertise to you and don't live and breathe off your data. Always follow the money.


This is an assumption though, there's nothing intrinsically true about it. Can you find anywhere that apple's privacy demonstrably better than googles? If so, then it's definitely worth highlighting so it can be discussed here. But if not then why would you assume one company uses the data differently than the other? It's safest to assume both companies are using your data to the fullest extent permitted by their privacy policies, which users are agreeing to.

The "pay = privacy" is a false comfort and there's already plenty of precedent for companies selling paying customer data. From banks, stores, cable tv providers, phone carriers, airlines, etc, consumers should never just assume their information will be kept private especially if they don't read the terms.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/adamtanner/2013/10/17/what-chase-and-ot...

http://money.cnn.com/2011/07/06/pf/banks_sell_shopping_data/index.h...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/adamtanner/2013/08/22/what-united-airli...


I don't value the word of apple any more or less than google, but until/unless they update their terms to indicate that they won't share our data with anyone in any form, then it is wise to assume that they do or will with the right offer.

Edited 2015-06-09 03:35 UTC

Reply Score: 5