When privacy is an inhuman right

Apple prides itself on privacy, but it makes no exceptions to its rules. Rather than protecting human rights, the rigid policy can seem inhuman.


“Privacy is a fundamental human right. At Apple, it’s also one of our core values. Your devices are important to so many parts of your life,” proclaims Apple. The company is currently promoting a new feature for iPhones and iPads which will allow device users to say no to having their data collected by apps.

This seems like a good thing. But sometimes privacy comes at a price. Apple phones seem to be like Fort Knox. I’m speaking as a parent who has spent over a year trying to get into my daughter’s phone. Like most teenagers, she spent much of her life on her phone. It will be full of photos and voice messages and the like. Yes, the last thing she would want if she was alive would be for her parents to have access to them. But she’s not alive and she would know that those photos and messages would mean the world to us.

When friends send us photos of her it means so much more than they can know. We recently discovered that we can remove the disk drive from the Xbox and access images of her dancing with her siblings. Every image, the sound of her voice, every movement is precious.

It cannot bring her back to life, of course, but it is like finding lost treasure. I’ve kept a voice message on our phone for the last year which is just her answering the phone to someone from my work. I just like to hear her voice. My son is worried that he will forget her voice or her gestures.

Unless you have been through something like this you have no idea how important images and voice messages are. And yet when you try to get this across to Apple employees all they do is sanctimoniously cite their human rights ideals. There are, it seems, no exceptions.

We’ve tried ways around it – using the iCloud, though I doubt my daughter backed anything up. But when you enter the password it sends the code to her phone, which we can’t get into, of course. Typically, she has the phone on airplane mode so it is not connected to the internet and there is no way around it.

I’m not giving up, though. I will spend as many years as it takes to try and guess her password – she was fiendishly good at coming up with them. Usually they related to Led Zeppelin. Or I will find a hacker – or become one. Whatever it takes.

What I will never do is forget that Apple makes no exceptions and I will never buy one of their stupid products again because I really don’t care how many silly adverts follow me around. Maybe I should, but life is short. What I do care about is losing precious images of my daughter because of some ridiculous, inflexible inhuman rights policy.

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