Apple must explain itself

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Apple must explain itself

“I know where you are!” That’s not the title of a horror movie but the mind-set of the information technology giant Apple Inc. The company turned out to have been secretly tracking and storing iPhone and iPad users’ location information in its database since it upgraded its operating system last June.

We are dumbfounded that such a high-profile technology company has been involved in illegal intrusion on people’s private lives without the consent of its customers. The blunder is reminiscent of the electronic bracelets worn by criminals. Apple should explain clearly why it attempted to collect a massive amount of customer location information because this is surely not an issue to dismiss lightly.

High technology always brings some danger, possibly as much as the convenience it provides. Smart electronic gadgets allow easy access to information about who is doing what and when. According to recent research, for instance, it is possible for high-tech companies to foresee where a smartphone user will be - with a maximum of 93.6 percent accuracy - solely based on information about how long a user talked and location. In other words, a company can further predict the future of a group, corporation and society, and it may be tempted to manipulate that information in the process. That’s a worrisome picture of the high-tech age we live in.

The authorities should put stiff restrictions on excessive collection of private information, including users’ locations, and other general information as well. The authorities must deal with such malpractice as swiftly and strictly as possible, unless they want citizens exposed to an “invisible threat” from state-of-the-art technologies.

Apple appears to be attempting to duck its responsibility for such grave infringement of privacy. It says the danger was already disclosed to customers. Not many customers recall hearing about that.

Apple is infamous for its high-handed approach to after-sales service, as seen in cases where it tried to pawn off on customers, who discovered flaws in their products, used replacements rather than fixing the faulty products.

Apple should clarify why it decided to imbed location-tracking software in its operating system. It should also find ways to allow users to kill the troublesome software. That would be a decision befitting a technology behemoth. The government must keep close tabs on IT companies to prevent clandestine and indiscriminate collection of private information.
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