If you updated the operating system on your iPhone recently, you probably noticed that the first screen to appear after the phone reset was Apple’s introduction of a handshake logo, which will be visible now whenever your personal information is being requested. Apple’s explanation was as follows:
"Apple believes privacy is a fundamental human right, so every Apple product is designed to minimize the collection and use of your data."
Is the timing of this a coincidence given Facebook’s recent troubles? It would be easy to assume this to be the case, but that is misguided. Furthermore, CEO Tim Cook’s dialogue on this issue is necessary and forthright.
The update itself is meant to put Apple in compliance with Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It’s fair to wonder whether anyone would have given this much thought had Facebook’s recent troubles not created such a stir. In case you missed it—there’s no chance—Facebook has come under heavy fire for granting access to the private data of more than 50 million users to Cambridge Analytica, a firm hired by the Trump campaign and funded by a Republican donor and Stephen Bannon. In doing so, Facebook took an already sensitive issue, data privacy, and poured kerosene on it by introducing politics into the mix.
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To be clear, it’s one thing to use someone’s personal data to show them an ad for Allen Edmonds, but it is altogether different to seemingly coerce them into voting for a specific candidate.
Data privacy and security are paramount at Harvest. In this vein, the complexity of the issue causes much consternation because it is not always black and white. For example, sharing personal information or identities is an obvious red line. On the other hand, the use of behavioral data is more philosophical. For example, approximately 70% of the content consumed on Netflix is the result of recommendations made by the platform. We similarly try to support our readers at Harvest by curating articles that seem to be consistent with their interests because it helps them cut through the clutter.
There are certainly other more nebulous uses of personal data, so it’s important to take a stand in the debate. So we do not view Tim Cook’s recent declarations about data integrity as schadenfreude at the expense of Facebook. Instead, we view it as an important and necessary dialogue that tech companies must be having with their customers or users.