A long time ago, in a galaxy not too far from ours, there was a tech company. Really, all it had was a search engine. And a misspelt name. But, amazingly, that search engine company went on to become one of the biggest tech companies on Earth. I am, of course, referring to Google. Are you old enough to remember what Google’s motto was: Do No Evil. They’ve since found those three small words to be terribly inconvenient and have dropped it from their PR stack. It appears that Evil keeps the lights on and food on the table much better than No Evil did.
Then there’s the pretentious designer’s favourite, Apple. Even when my husband and I were working in Silicon Valley, we never had the faintest desire to work for Apple (Infinity Loop, Cupertino) because Steve Jobs’ tantrums were legendary. Who wanted a boss like that? And, with its walled garden of software and the smugness of its users, Apple could basically datamine the hell out of its clueless users without anyone being the wiser.
Over the past few years, however, what with the NSA/Cambridge Analytica/bounty hunter news, people have become alarmed with Big Tech, although I personally tend to think that they’re trying to close the barn door after the horses have been led out, turned into dog food and the barn renovated into a trendy co-working space. Big Tech says the right things…
- At Apple, we believe privacy is a fundamental human right.
- And so much of your personal information — information you have a right to keep private — lives on your Apple devices.
- Your heart rate after a run. Which news stories you read first. Where you bought your last coffee. What websites you visit. Who you call, email, or message.
- Every Apple product is designed from the ground up to protect that information. And to empower you to choose what you share and with whom.
- We’ve proved time and again that great experiences don’t have to come at the expense of your privacy and security. Instead, they can support them.
- Google was founded on the belief that everything we do should always respect the user. As the Internet evolves, this means continuously advancing our security technologies and privacy tools to help keep you and your family safe online.
- We protect you online with industry-leading security.
- Everything we make is protected with powerful built-in security technologies that help detect and block threats like spam, malware, and viruses from ever reaching you. And we share these security technologies with partners and competitors alike, raising industry standards that help keep everyone safer online.
- We build privacy that works for everyone.
- Data makes Google services more helpful and relevant, but how we use this information is an individual choice that belongs to you. We keep you informed about what data we collect, how it’s used, and why. And we build powerful data controls into your Google Account, so you can choose the privacy settings that are right for you.
- “We have also heard that some people don’t understand how their personal information is used and worry that it is shared in ways they don’t want. I’d like to clear that up now. Many people choose to make some of their information visible to everyone so people they know can find them on Facebook. We already offer controls to limit the visibility of that information and we intend to make them even stronger.
- Here are the principles under which Facebook operates:
— You have control over how your information is shared.
— We do not share your personal information with people or services you don’t want.
— We do not give advertisers access to your personal information.
— We do not and never will sell any of your information to anyone.
— We will always keep Facebook a free service for everyone.”
- At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. We are doing this by building an intelligent cloud, reinventing productivity and business processes and making computing more personal. In all of this, we will maintain the timeless value of privacy and preserve the ability for you to control your data.
- This starts with making sure you get meaningful choices about how and why data is collected and used, and ensuring that you have the information you need to make the choices that are right for you across our products and services.
…but they don’t live up to it. No wonder stand-up comedians can’t get great gigs. How can they possibly compete with the Legal Departments of Big Tech?
But Big Tech isn’t just concerned about your privacy, no sirree Bob. Big Tech is also concerned about the direction the world is heading in. You may think of them as nothing more than insatiable, grasping, datamining behemoths, but they have a kind, caring side that’s looking out for you, dear reader, because you obviously can’t be trusted to look out for yourself. In the recent YouTube purge, for example, inconvenient right- and left-wing channels were removed. Twitter shadowbanned people not following the “liberal” SJW line. Zuckerberg talked about censoring people posting on issues such as flat earth, 9/11 vaccinations, etc. I remember years ago having to be very careful because a (female) nipple on a cover could lead to Apple pulling a book. But mantitty A-OK Joe! LOL
So I just want you to know that Big Tech knows best. Which is a roundabout way of bringing up Absher.
Absher is an app created by the National Information Center of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Apple and Android platforms that enable male citizens to track the whereabouts of their female relatives and workers.
Absher is the official individuals eServices Mobile Application that provide the services of Absher portal in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
– With Absher, which is available in both Arabic and English, you will be able to perform many services for individuals in KSA whether they are citizens or residents.
– Absher has been designed and developed with special consideration to security and privacy of user’s data and communication. So, you can safely browse your profile or your family members, or labors[sic] working for you, and perform a wide range of eServices online.
As of this writing, the app has a rating of 4.6 from 28,000+ downloads. The thing I wish to point out here is that, with all the outrage over women, this app also enables Saudi men to monitor their workers; basically, it’s an app for control. And, and I don’t know how much I can stress this, Apple and Google are okay with that. Need I remind you of Dragonfly, the China-specific search engine Google was crafting? And do you remember when Yahoo gave the Chinese government details on where their dissidents were located? What about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica? And Google’s cosy relationship with various intelligence agencies? Twitter’s shadowbanning of anything other than the SJW ideology? Yeah, this has been going on for a long time, but I’m sure you didn’t care too much, because who cares when you can upload a Starbucks frappuccino to your Instagram, right?
Of course the app will be pulled, because Big Tech has an image to maintain. But just like Dragonfly hasn’t completely died, I’m sure that Apple and Google will let the Saudi government slip something else very similar into their app stores once the furore dies down. After all, it’s what they do best.
Further reading (22-02-2019): Google says the built-in microphone it never told Nest users about was ‘never supposed to be a secret’ … Sure.