All the same to me: Apple and Google’s interest in tracking you

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Welcome again to another episode of False Equivalency Theater, the only half-hour entertainment program the brings you the most ridiculous conflation of two things that are really not the same!

Last week, we looked at spelling bees and killer bees and found no difference whatsoever. What will we look at this week? Google and Apple’s approaches to privacy!

Writing for Fox News, Brooke Crothers tells us “How to stop Apple and Google from tracking you.” (Tip o’ the antlers to DLAN.)

How to stop Apple and Google. Because, you know, they’re both doin’ it.

This is like saying “Swallowing arsenic can kill you. Swallowing ibuprofen on an empty stomach can make you a little nauseated. I’m going to write about why you should never swallow arsenic or ibuprofen.”

Apple and Google can track your every move.

They can. But only one really, really wants to.

The tracking and snooping that Apple and Google do isn’t necessarily a nefarious plot to spy on you.

Not at all! In both cases, it’s just to make services better for their customers! It’s just that in Apple’s case, the person who bought the phone is the customer and in Google’s case some advertiser is the customer. So if you are an iPhone owner or a Google advertiser, please know that there is a benefit to you!

There. We’ve taken care of all customer concerns.

For example, data used by Google Maps can be helpful in getting directions.

Yes, let’s talk about Maps for a minute. Because Apple famously ruined mapping on the iPhone for no good reason by eschewing Google Maps. Well, no good reason other than the fact that Google wanted more user data in exchange for new features and Apple didn’t want to hand that over.

Anyway, these two companies are totally the same in tracking you.

Crothers helpfully points out how to turn off tracking on iOS which is mostly about stopping third-party apps from tracking you. He even notes that iOS will alert you that apps are using location data. Then he turns to Android.

With Google, it can be a little more involved…

Oh?

“Remember that Google is a bit sneaky in this regard, as some apps collect location data even if your location history is disabled.” [says Comparitech’s Paul Bischoff.]

Oh.

So, in some situations you can’t even stop Google from tracking you on Android. That is very bad of these technology companies! A pox on both Google's and Apple’s houses.

The irony, of course, is that while some pundits paint Google's and Apple’s tracking as the same, others are complaining that Apple is behind in AI because it won’t collect as much data as Google will. Stupid Apple! Collect more data! Also, aren’t all these companies terrible for collecting the same amount of data?!

Of course there are apps you can get from Apple’s App Store that are desperate to grab as much of your data as they can. But Apple itself is uninterested in your data because using it is not its business model, unlike Google. These two things are not even comparable and should not be treated as such.

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