Apple’s slice of our core private data – too much? Jim Duffy comment

Apple owns most of me.

Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 7:30 am
Owning an Apple Watch gives the tech firm access to such much data that the mind boggles, says Duffy. Picture: John Devlin.

But there is one tiny sliver of me still up for grabs. Apple owns my work apparatus. I’m writing this now on my MacBook Air. It owns my leisure time as I watch and surf on my iPad Pro. And it owns all my communications as my good old iPhone 7 covers it all.

But, up until now, I have resisted one last item. That one track and trace piece of tech that gives all of me to Apple. And this Christmas might be the one where I give in and buy an Apple Watch… Apple is a highly successful company. Valued recently at $2 trillion (£1.6tn), it is a story of innovation and ruthless business cut-through. Co-founders Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs are legends in the tech world.

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I recall sitting in second year science as a 13-year-old where my teacher, Mr Pendleton, would lust over his new toy – an Apple computer. It was sited right at the front of the class so he could see us all as he taught himself basic computing. More than 40 years ago, one Apple computer had made its way into a school. Now, I bet almost 90 per cent of the kids in a science class have an iPhone.

I’m on my fourth iteration of my iPhone journey. And here is where Apple truly owns me – and I suspect most of you. On this version, it has my fingerprint to access and lock it. Think about that for a second.

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The police do not have my fingerprints and need cause to take my prints. But Apple has many different versions of my fingerprint stored in its cloud servers. And while I do not have the next stage up of biometrics in the new phones where facial recognition technology rules the day, that is even more amazing and worrying.

Certainly, it looks to be safe in locking and unlocking the phone. But, wow! That image of you is stored somewhere. I wonder how that could be used in the future for positive or negative.

The iPhone also stores all my passwords. I think I have around 150 passworded apps and documents and files. And my iPhone makes it easy as it remembers them and my fingerprint authorises their use. Super clever tech, but I do feel sometimes that all my eggs are very much in the one basket.

All my banking is done by app, so is my HMRC stuff. Add to this all my crypto paraphernalia and my finances are corralled into a small screen, run by Apple. But, what about my more sensitive stuff? Apple stores all my photos. Years and years of images, memories and of course those more intimate photos that we all pretend we do not have, but most of us do have, right?

Privacy

The selfies and shots that the celebrities don’t want the hackers to get their hands on. Here is a quick test for you. Would you be willing to completely unlock your phone and swap it with me for five minutes? Ooft! I’m not sure I would, as I have so much sensitive and confidential data on it. But, hey ho, I’m happy for Apple to look after it all. Isn’t that the strangest thing…

So, Apple has me, my subscriptions and knows where I am and what I am watching. But if I am to completely surrender myself to this global tech behemoth, then there is one item, I need to buy – the Watch. And here is where I’m a little nervous.

Owning an Apple Watch gives the tech firm access to such much data that the mind boggles. The health options all sound great with so much more to come in the future. Blood oxygen, blood pressure and sleep analysis combined with heartbeat and activity could be great tools as I get older. But taking that next step and purchasing the watch means that I am a full disciple of Apple.

I will have spent about £3,500 on Apple hardware, not to mention subscriptions and iCloud storage. But despite appreciating the beauty of how it all works together for me, I’m still feeling a little apprehensive about this final purchase. I’ve still got a few months to hint at it landing in my Christmas stocking as I wax and wane in giving in completely to tech.

Jim Duffy MBE, Create Special

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