While other web browsers exist and thrive on iOS, Safari is the one Apple includes with it’s iOS system software, and it’s probably the one most of us use often, no small thanks to the fact that it’s integrated at the system level. Every click through, unless third-party apps (like Mailbox) allow something different, takes us to Safari as our main browser.
Therefore, if you’re looking for ways to protect more of your privacy, you’ll want to enable the Do Not Track feature in mobile Safari, as well as possibly block cookies, which are bits of code that store your preferences on website servers for return visits.
There are few tech terms more loaded than “user privacy” here in 2013.
Back in January Cult of Mac reported that Apple had lost its spot on a list of the 20 most trusted companies when it comes to user information. That was long before the revelations of Edward Snowden and PRISMgate (the subject of an entire recent issue of our Newsstand magazine), which made everyone super-jumpy about data collection and what it means for personal liberties.
This week’s edition of Cult of Mac Magazine explores the issue of privacy in the PRISM age. Whether you have anything to hide or not, awareness of what data you are sending out and who can see it as always a good thing.
We’ve got great how-tos to about keeping things locked down in your email, browser, instant messaging and backups as well as what to know about the key privacy settings in iOS 7 and how to cover your privates with social media apps.
For those of you who have, ahem, things to hide from a snooping spouse, roommate or parent, we’ve also got you covered.
And if you think you’re an open book, we talk to an artist who broadcast his life from his iPhone screen to an open web page for an entire year. He tells us what happens when your wife gets in the act and your mother always knows what you’re up to.
Publisher Leander Kahney discusses his foray into the private lives of Apple designers while researching his latest book and our exclusive Apple Genius column discusses drinking on the job and vintage Macs.
Chart Source: EFF.org Note: Companies are listed in alphabetical order.
When we share our innermost thoughts on a blog, send pictures of loved ones through Facebook, or even divulge the unhealthy foods we ate for dinner from our iPhone, we trust the companies that run those services with our data. Companies like Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and Google. Companies like Dropbox, AT&T, Foursquare, and Linked In.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), initially funded by three big donors in 1990 including Apple’s own Steve Wozniak, published its third yearly report on the best and worst of these companies.
The results may surprise you: Apple has one of the worst scores on the chart.
The Cupertino company gets only one star – on par with internet behemoth Yahoo and telcom giant AT&T – and that was awarded for fighting for privacy rights in congress. (It’s worth noting that Yahoo’s one star gets an extra sparkly patina due to the company’s “silent battle for user privacy” in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court).
The report examined the public policies of major internet companies, including service providers, cloud storage companies, blogging platforms, social networking sites, and the like, to figure out whether they were committed to backing us up when our own government wants access to our data. The point of the report is to motivate companies to be more transparent, and do better.
EFF’s scorecard was released in the spring, before NSA and PRISM were in the spotlight, but the criteria were prescient.
Companies were rated by whether they:
Require a warrant for content of communications.
Tell users about government data requests.
Publish transparency reports.
Publish law enforcement guidelines.
Fight for users’ privacy rights in courts.
Fight for users’ privacy in Congress.
Apple earned its lone star for joining the Digital Due Process Coalition. However it does not require a warrant, tell users about government data requests, publish transparent reports or law enforcement guidelines, nor does it fight for users’ privacy rights in court.
Compare this to a company like Twitter, which does all of these things. The microblogging service scores favorably across all the EFF categories, as does internet provider Sonic.net.
Google rates a five out of six, falling short a star for not telling users about government access requests; Dropbox ranks the same, demoted a star for not fighting for users’ privacy rights in court.
Overall, it’s great to know how private our communications are. (Or not, as the case may be.) Reports like this one are a step towards transparency and understanding of our own ability to interact privately, at least within the realm of the law. If a company we trust is cavalier about our own data, perhaps we should contact them and ask them why they aren’t scoring so well. Maybe the companies will make some changes in policy, or maybe they’ll lose some customers when they don’t.
Either way, if privacy is important to you, you can see above exactly how important it isn’t, and the companies it isn’t important to.
Cell phone numbers are a direct path that often lead straight to us, regardless of where we are or what we’re doing. And once we’ve given someone our number, they have it for good. And if things go south, the only option is to change your number, right?
Pretty much — but that’s easy to do if you used a new app called RingMeMaybe to give them a temporary number in the first place.
Google’s Chrome for iOS is a heck of a browser on iOS, and a great alternative to using Safari, except for the fact that it’s not quite as integrated into the experience as Safari is.
Because of that, if you use Chrome and want to clear out your browser data to keep others from checking out what you’ve been doing on the web, you won’t be able to do so in the official Settings app like you can with Safari data.
Here’s how to clear your cache files, browsing history, and any cookies from Chrome in iOS.
I have to admit, I’m less than wary of all the tracking that goes on with the iOS devices my kids have access to. Now that they both have at least an iPod touch and access to my iPads, I’m feeling a bit on the worried side about them sharing any of their web or app activity.
Luckily, there’s an app called Disconnect Kids that installs on any iOS device and then helps kids (and their parents) understand what this tracking stuff is, and how to block it. It then helps those very same kids and parents do just that.
We already know that companies can track our location in real-time through a smartphone’s GPS and serve deals or ads relevant to your location, but what if your iPhone could predict where you’re going to go in 24 hours?
A group of researchers have created an algorithm that uses location tracking data on people’s phones to predict where they will be 24 hours from the present. Shockingly, the average error is within a mere 20 meters.