How Apple is risking your privacy

Hey, Apple. If you’re reading this, I’m more than a little upset right now.

Let me preface this complaint by establishing that I have had a long-standing love affair with your products.

But I have one major complaint at the moment, and it affects every individual who uses your operating systems. And it boils down to one simple human rights issue:


You’ve screwed it up big-time.

Sounds like a good idea, right? Wrong.

Sounds like a good idea, right? Wrong.

You see, after upgrading to OX X Yosemite and booting into my new OS for the first time, I was prompted to sign in to iCloud services using my Apple ID. Here I’d like to get one thing straight with you:

I don’t trust iCloud and I don’t want to store my sensitive data on it.

And my “sensitive data” includes my photos.

They’re my photos. And some of them are private.

So, why the fuck would I want to store them on the cloud, Apple?!

It’s not just OS X Yosemite that wants to store my stuff on the cloud. I found out recently that my iPhone has also been uploading my photos to the cloud.

iCloud Photo Library, My Photo Stream, and iCloud Photo sharing are a terrible risk to privacy. Disable these options under: Settings -> Photos & Camera (iOS 8.x)

iCloud Photo Library, My Photo Stream, and iCloud Photo Sharing put user privacy at tremendous risk. Disable these options under:
Settings -> Photos & Camera (iOS 8.x)

The funny thing is, I don’t remember being asked if I wanted to store my photos on the cloud. My Photo Stream and iCloud Photo Sharing options were enabled by default.

Apple, I don’t believe that the majority of your customers (many of whom flock to the Apple Platform owing in part to its ease of use), have a complete comprehension of what exactly the cloud is, and that their data may be at risk. And let’s face it:

You cannot guarantee our privacy, and you cannot deny the risk to individual privacy when storing data in the cloud.

You must acknowledge the security risks implicit in cloud storage. You must acknowledge that data stored in the cloud stands at risk to interception by individuals or organizations using methods known and unknown, including:

  1. Interception and collection of data by unlawful means, such as by hackers.
  2. Interception and collection of data by lawful means, such as by law enforcement agencies.
  3. Interception and collection of data by unconstitutional means, such as by unchecked domestic and foreign surveillance programs.

Data stored in the cloud poses a tempting target for the unscrupulous.

You must accept some responsibility because you are enabling by default an increased risk to privacy for every individual who uses your products. And the worst part of it is,

you aren’t giving your customers a clear choice to protect their own privacy.

You make it easy to surrender one’s data into the murky mist of the cloud where it stands at risk to be picked though by anyone.

You owe it to your customers to do better job protecting their right to privacy. Whatever profit motive you have in practically forcing your users to store their data on the cloud is no acceptable excuse for endangering the privacy of millions of people.

Thanks AppleRecently (as of this writing) it was brought to light that some of your very highest profile customers — female celebrities — had their personal and private photos exposed to the world by hackers exploiting flaws in iCloud security.

That’s entirely on you, Apple.

Do you think any of those high-profile individuals would have chosen to have their private photos stored on the cloud where they stood at risk to be exposed?

It’s not just celebrities who are at risk. It’s every single user of your operating systems.

The bottom line:

You cannot guarantee the security of data stored on the cloud. You need to make it easier for customers to opt out of storing their data online and be more transparent with your customers about the inherent risks of cloud storage.

When you put people at risk to invasion of privacy by default, you are responsible when that privacy is invaded.

You can do better, Apple.


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  • Alex

    Just updated my iPhone to iOS version 9.1 and was pleased to see that Apple asked me a series of questions for turning on location services and enabling certain iCloud features. I’m glad that this manual setup now exists. Thank you, Apple. I opted out of storing my password keychain on the iCloud. That seems super risky!