Steve Barnes' World of Happiness

Craig Federighi on digital privacy.

More conferences are online this year, and the 10th Annual European Data Protection & Privacy Conference picked this American guest well.

To an Apple fan, much of this speech is repeat material (with the feeling of, "oh, Bernie Sanders thinks health care is a right? I wasn't sure"). Of course, health care is best regarded as a right, and Craig advocates users' privacy is equally so. In this speech, he does it with Jobsian-sounding common sense and efficiency, dipping into technical concepts only when needed.

Among those concepts are a recollection of Safari's pioneering blocking of third-party cookies, its recent advent of Intelligent Tracking Prevention in browsers, and the assertion that App Store apps will soon gain something similar – and could face expulsion for misbehaving. Craig also mentions that Apple has called for a GDPR-like digital privacy law in the United States, which I hadn't heard. (I can't say I think the dump truck's worth of "we use cookies" banners is a proud consequence, but I have the feeling Apple's proposition will reveal a better way.)

I write about this because I think it's important. It's great to enrich yourself by learning a little about encryption or whatever – but fostering an attitude of entitlement to privacy generally can influence software companies' choices, which could help shape the future like a gardener helps shape a plant. It seems analogous to Carl Sagan's feeling that a healthy democracy's citizens should understand the basic principles of science, such that the elite and government appointees aren't the only ones with a clear view on their own choices, their consequences, and their accountability.

Last decade, with the evolving web was at its least secure and most abusable, there seemed an attitude that privacy was eroding and the mature response was resignation or adaptation. Apple really has "thought different" about this from the beginning, starting with Steve Jobs. I'm not sure I'd be typing this myself if they hadn't. If they could inspire me to adjust my outlook, I think most people today can help inspire each other.