Is Apple becoming evil?

November 19, 2007

Apple has a reputation of being a fair and open company and has acquired a massive die hard fan base thanks to this approach. They are seen as one of the good companies compared to others such as Microsoft (and sometimes Google).

However, they’ve not been doing themselves any favours of late…

First they crippled peoples iPhones when they tried to update, hack or unlock them. I can understand the desire to do this but it’s fairly narrow minded and unnecessarily antagonises the types of customers they rely on as a tech company.

Now they’ve committed what to me is a cardinal sin. According to Techcrunch there is a feature in the iPhone which sends data back to Apple all the time. This data includes IP address, stock quote preferences and other preference data, worst of all though it sends the IMEI number for the users phone back as well.

Now an IMEI is one of those rare bits of data which can instantly be linked to a person, unlike things like IP address which are more transient and changeable. This means that Apple could be building a profile for all it’s iPhone users with more than just who they are and the fact they own an iPhone. This could contain data that would be hugely attractive to advertisers around the globe.

So could Apple be planning a Facebook? Possibly. Are they harvesting information on their users? Undoubtedly, yes they are. What they plan to do with that data is anyones guess at the moment but Apple should expect to receive some backlash from their customers for this as it seems a breach of privacy to me.

Update – 20th Nov: The latest from Techcrunch is that this isn’t 100% true, apparently the iPhone doesn’t send an IMEI back to home base.

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