Do We Really Want Privacy?

I really love reading Kim Cameron’s Identity Weblog. Fairly often it is thought provoking…

He recently wrote about his experience with the new iPhone privacy policy: Apple giving out your iPhone fingerprints and location. He was one (probably of the very few) reading the privacy policy and found the following statement:

Collection and Use of Non-Personal Information

We also collect non-personal information - data in a form that does not permit direct association with any specific individual. We may collect, use, transfer, and disclose non-personal information for any purpose. The following are some examples of non-personal information that we collect and how we may use it:

  • We may collect information such as occupation, language, zip code, area code, unique device identifier, location, and the time zone where an Apple product is used so that we can better understand customer behavior and improve our products, services, and advertising.

So, basically this says that they might collect everything from you, link it to your device identifier and do whatever they want with it. This is called “Privacy” policy.

What strikes me is, that a lot of people do not really see the challenges and risks behind this as this story shows: Non-Personal Information - like where you live?. If I know your device ID and if I have access to the location data of your device, how hard is it to find out who your are? Not really hard. You will be in certain locations more often than in others. In my case you could at least reduce it to four people living in the same household.

So, there is no such thing like “not being able to link a device ID to a person”. This is simply the price we seem to be willing to pay for our constant eagerness to get the coolest app and the best service. Does the consumer really care about privacy when he/she has to balance privacy vs. functionality? Unfortunately I think the more the less…