Apple customers recently learned that the cellular versions of their iPhones and iPads are storing detailed tracking information about users in an unencrypted format.
Ace New York Times tech reviewer David Pogue belittles anyone concerned about the threat to privacy. He himself has “nothing to hide,” lacks the “paranoid gene.” In conclusion, “So what?”
Chiming in online, reader “Diana” avers that “Privacy is dead. It is time to get over it” — a familiar yet incoherent sentiment which assumes that privacy is an all-or-nothing commodity.
If there were a spate of break-ins in a neighborhood, would anyone feel justified in blithely asserting, “Security is dead. It is time to get over it”? Would you be making a pointless fetish of security by continuing to lock your front door or improving the lock? Should everyone suffering under dictatorship be instructed that their freedom is dead, get over it?
The costs of breaching privacy can be minor or great. With respect to unencrypted and archived tracking data, the practical costs of the vulnerability may be zero until the wrong person with the wrong motive exploits it. The danger may be a lot greater in other countries.
It’s appropriate to debate how great an apparent threat to privacy may be, and the best way of countering that threat. But it is wrong to assume that institutionally persistent but unnecessary assaults on personal privacy are either irreversible or silly even to notice.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.