Apple’s Great New Privacy Commercial vs Reality

Apple has unveiled a terrific new video/commercial for the privacy features of the iPhone:

While I do think Apple deserves real credit for resisting government attempts to get a back door into iPhone encryption, I can’t help but view that video a little cynically in light of reports, not so long ago, that more than half of the App Store privacy labels were false.

Bonus shout-out to “Mind Your Own Business” by Delta 5 which provides the background.

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8 Responses to Apple’s Great New Privacy Commercial vs Reality

  1. Vic says:

    Never mind that the Apple ideals are no longer convenient, and thus ignored, in China. On the one hand, this is just business and Apple should have the right to be subservient to the People’s Republic or China if it is for the betterment of the business, on the other hand it sort of makes the postering for non-Chinese audiences rather transparently lame. Never mind where ANY of our modern technology would be without (often, child) slavery and indentured servitude in Africa and China producing the raw elements of it all.

    I still chose to use tech extensively – I just have no illusions about it.

    Off topic: I don’t know if you are currently on it or not, but how about that story from the DOJ that they took back a bunch of Bitcoin from “hackers in Russia? Is it even true? The way Bitcoin works suggests it unlikely. But if it IS true, does this now show that the fundamental security paradigm of Bitcoin isn’t real? Or maybe does it suggest the whole thing was another, all too typical FBI operation where the Feds create the platform for the crime, entice criminally minded people into it, then take charge in some way to claim glory over breaking up something they, in fact, initiated? (I.e. these “hackers” were ALWAYS part of an FBI “sting” operation.). The explanation of HOW this all happened seems oddly absent from news reports, yet is critical for understanding the meaning of the news itself. I’m sure it will all be hidden away with the usual over-reaching “national security” claim, but it does raise some serious questions ancillary to the DOJ’s victory lap. I’ve been wondering if the story caught your eye, Michael?

    • Followed the bitcoin story with only one eye. I believe that bitcoin is not really anonymous but rather pseudonymous? In this case the feds tracked the payee for some set of coins, found they all went to a given wallet, figured out how to access the wallet, and hacked it. Not sure that breaks the model, properly understood?

      • Vic says:

        See, I don’t think it’s as simple as that. I’m no world-class expert, but my understanding is that Bitcoin transactions are all forward with no reverse. Meaning, if you use your Visa, and have a dispute, you can potentially get the transaction reversed or nullified – you get your money back. The proviso being that this works if the various banks involved all agree that it SHOULD work, and agree that it should be done in THIS case. The ledger is kept by and agreed upon by, the banks. There is no such provision in blockchain world. All transactions are complete and permanent once added to the chain (the block is verified). The ledger is decentralized. There IS nobody to appeal to. The transaction only exists at all once it is on the chain, and once there, it can only be “reversed” by the new owner of that coin making a forward transaction back to the original sender, which is eventually verified in another block.

        Bitcoin exchanges make using the currency transfer system easier, but it is not the only way to do it, and you still need to make an entry in the blockchain for the Bitcoin itself to be transferred. And the wallets necessary for making transactions can still, even on exchanges, be of no use for reversing things. (Speaking in very simplified terms here)

        So the question here is HOW the DOJ was able to involuntarily reverse payment in part? Effectively, they had to, maybe, steal it back, through a hack. At least how they describe it. (And is THAT legal?). This all has potentially huge ramifications for Bitcoin and all kinds of other things involving block chain transaction recording. There has long been talk of NSA back doors in certain encryption algorithms, is this a demo of that, or something else entirely?

        I think you are suggesting that they waited until the Bitcoin was transmogrified into some form of fiat currency by the hackers, then THAT was confiscated through the usual bank cooperation (no doubt coupled with a government boot on the neck). But I’m not so sure that rings true. I mean maybe the hacker criminals suddenly became stupid and forgot how and why Bitcoin works, but that seems odd, and oddly coincidental for the DOJ. I think there is a lot more to this story. There has to be. And given the DOJ’s tendency to “fight” crime by instigating it, I wonder if they’ve been part of this from the beginning (which would be a huge scandal): They created the hacking scenario on the pipeline, they instigated the hacking, they maintained access to the funds, and took back all that they could, acting the hero, just like they do all the time in hundreds of cases every year.

        I just think it reeks of a big and interesting story that is being hidden. Certainly the truth of what happened has huge import within the encryption using community.

        • Michael says:

          I don’t think they reversed anything. I think they hacked the wallet or exchange where they were stored and sent themselves the Bitcoin. But what do I know?

          • Vic says:

            Yeah, a story on NBC seems to confirm that the got ahold of the private keys to at least one Bitcoin wallet.

            Assuming that’s the “how,” then is it legal for the FBI to hack (if they had to)? Obviously, this was not the FBI’s authorized key. Were the “hackers” so stupid as to leave their private key in sight? And since there is no reversal, did the FBI then do a Bitcoin transaction (and to whom) to take the money from the hackers’ account?

            I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that the few facts we’ve been told only muddy the waters. This isn’t just another bank transaction. There are huge ramifications potentially involved.

            • Michael says:

              Cops seizing money as fruits of criminal activity is not new. With process they can break into houses and open a safe so assuming the right court order, this is just more of the same.

              • Vic says:

                Well, I’m not sure you are really getting what is important from both a technical and legal standpoint, so I’ll drop it.

                Unfortunately, all too often these seized funds are not given to the victims, but become part of the Government’s slush fund. Colonial will be lucky if they see this “returned” money again.

                • Always happy to be enlightened. AFAIK, the bitcoin model protects the payee if and only if the payee uses a fresh nym and contact email for each transaction. This person didn’t do that, so they became traceable. That’s the tech part.

                  Legally, this all seems standard. I was under the impression that it was common for LEOs to return stolen property to victims (which distinguishes this case from the ‘we think you a laundering money, smuggling currency, or other valuables cases, where you get a forfeiture). But I’m no crim law maven, so I’m prepared to be educated there too.

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