Apple cultists have long argued that Apple is superior to the Facebook Amazon Google Twitter technocabal because it protects user privacy in its walled garden. But that does not, in fact, appear to be the case, at least, not any longer.
On modern versions of macOS, you simply can’t power on your computer, launch a text editor or eBook reader, and write or read, without a log of your activity being transmitted and stored.
It turns out that in the current version of the macOS, the OS sends to Apple a hash (unique identifier) of each and every program you run, when you run it. Lots of people didn’t realize this, because it’s silent and invisible and it fails instantly and gracefully when you’re offline, but today the server got really slow and it didn’t hit the fail-fast code path, and everyone’s apps failed to open if they were connected to the internet.
Because it does this using the internet, the server sees your IP, of course, and knows what time the request came in. An IP address allows for coarse, city-level and ISP-level geolocation, and allows for a table that has the following headings:
Date, Time, Computer, ISP, City, State, Application Hash
Apple (or anyone else) can, of course, calculate these hashes for common programs: everything in the App Store, the Creative Cloud, Tor Browser, cracking or reverse engineering tools, whatever.
This means that Apple knows when you’re at home. When you’re at work. What apps you open there, and how often. They know when you open Premiere over at a friend’s house on their Wi-Fi, and they know when you open Tor Browser in a hotel on a trip to another city.
Now, there is only so much you can do to avoid this sort of thing. I prefer to operate under the full knowledge that my every online activity – and probably the greater part of my real world activities – are being watched, recorded, and processed for analysis, although at this point that’s completely redundant given the fact that I am a confirmed badthinker and thought criminal.
The thing is, living in a digital panopticon is really not a problem for any student of philosophy, much less any Christian. We are perfectly aware that all our secrets and our sins are known.
When you close your doors, and make darkness within, remember never to say that you are alone, for you are not alone; nay, God is within, and your genius is within. And what need have they of light to see what you are doing?
– Epictetus, Book I
But it is still good to know who the Watchers are, and Apple is now confirmed to be among them.