bill's blog

Just another WordPress weblog

Browsing Posts tagged Apple

or are they taking the Flash war to another platform?

SLAs

No comments

Or Service Level Agreements are meant as a way to set the rules of the game. The game being, you (the customer) are buying a service from someone that has knowledge to help when you need it the most. Needless to say the more money you put up… the better the service you will be provided with. Wikipedia describes it like this:

The (expert) service provider can demonstrate their value by organizing themselves with ingenuity, capability and knowledge to deliver the service required, perhaps in an innovative way (Wikipedia.org, 2009)

WOW… sounds like a tall order! And it can be. But then again you’re paying for it so why not.

BUT… What if the provider hides behind heir SLA’s? Say for instance… you have a two-hour call back window? Can you ever expect to get a call before the SLA times out? Does that mean every time you call in, the provider waits the two hours before calling back? What if the problem is on going? Does it mean that every time you respond to one of their questions you have to wait another two hours? Where does good customer relations come into play? What do you think?

Various, (2009, March 13), Service level agreement, Retrieved on March, 16, 2009 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Service_level_agreement

I seems that no matter where you go on the web you’re asked to register!

“Please enter last name, email address, your favorite pet, the name of your first born…”

The Internet provides an extremely easy way for companies to collect massive amounts of personal data. Not only are web sites asking for more and more personal information, but it seems that every credit card company that calls is asking for personal information that has yet to be previously disclosed.

“How do they know my mother’s birthday?”

The problem is how are companies safe guarding this information. Unfortunately, TJX and the VA have been poster children for the careless disclosure of very sensitive data. This leads to some very interesting questions… Is the collection of fair benign data any less important than Social Security numbers for credit card account numbers? One thing to keep in mind is that there is a fine line between gathering information that can indentify you in the future from invading your privacy.

So what can you expect?

In May of 2000, the Federal Trade Commission presented to Congress a report Privacy Online: Fair Information Practices In The Electronic Marketplace. This is the third report the commission presented to congress and within this documents the FTC reiterates four key legislative suggestions (ftc.gov, 2000):

  1. Notice – Web sites would be required to provide consumers clear and conspicuous notice of their information practices, including what information they collect, how they collect i
  2. Choice – Web sites would be required to offer consumers choices as to how their personal identifying information is used beyond the use for which the information was provided
  3. Access – Web sites would be required to offer consumers reasonable access to the information a Web site has collected about them, including a reasonable opportunity to review information and to correct inaccuracies or delete information.
  4. Security – Web sites would be required to take reasonable steps to protect the security of the information they collect from consumers.

The Federal Trade Commission recognized the need to protect consumers as consumer confidence in the self-regulation of the sites was lacking and the need for government regulations were needed. The legislative recommendations set forth in this document were to build on/supplement the 1998 Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (or COPPA).

Where are we today?

So let’s take a look at Apple’s Online Privacy Policy.

Notice – Apple provides a link at the bottom of the home page of the web site. The link is located next to the sites copyright and terms of use. So to that end it’s conspicuous (the end user doesn’t have to search around for the site’s privacy policy). The second heading of the policy clearly states what information they collect and how they may use it. Apple delineates why they ask customers to use an Apple ID, what information may be collected in association with the ID. One important thing that Apple points out is any publically posted information that is posted to its forums is public information. Be careful what you post!

Choice – Apple does disclose how the information it collects on you is shared. They claim they do not share (bought or rented) collected information with outside marketers. It does share your information with strategic partners… for example it will share information with AT&T regarding the iPhone you purchased. Interestingly, it does say that they will disclose your information if they determine that for national security, law enforcement, or other issues of public importance, disclosure is necessary (apple.com, 2007). One thing to note… The policy doesn’t go into any detail on opting out of sharing your personal information.

Access – Apple does disclose how you can view and change the personal information that you have provided. They have a web page dedicated to changing your information. It should be noted that your will need an Apple ID to change the information Apple has collected. It is interesting to note that you originally provided this information to Apple. Information that is stored and can be changed includes: Passwords, security questions, your home and shipping addresses as well as phone numbers.  This may not be all the information that Apple has collected on you. Apple does keep track of credit card numbers… This information cannot be gotten to on this page! Additionally, you can opt in or out of various Apple mailings.

Security – Apple does disclose how it goes about protecting your data. Apple states that it safeguards your personal information against loss, theft, and misuse, as well as unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration, and destruction (apple.com, 2007). Apple does adhere to COPPA. Apple’s Online Store and iTunes Music Store uses SSL to protect your personal information while in transit over the Internet.

Other Interesting Information!

Apple does go into some length on various other bits of technology that it uses to track you. They use cookies. This should come as no surprise as most highly developed websites make use of this technology. They do disclose some of the information they track through the use of cookies. They do have a webpage that details how you have disable the use of cookies. They do make mention of information that the web server collects by default in its log files. Apple does state that this information does not identify individual users. While this is true… Apple could use IP address information to gather information on the household that their website was access from. Apple does make use of “click-through URL” and Pixel Tagging. Apple can target individuals with the use of this technology. They can determine who came to the website based on information they have embedded within the URL.

Summing Things Up!

One thing to keep in mind… Much of the information that companies gather from you online is provide by you. (Though there are technologies that can disclose private information without you know.) Be careful of the information you provide. Understand why a company is asking for the information they are looking for. I hate having to provide my birth date… Surely companies can find better ways for me to prove who I am… OpenID anyone!

Resources:

Federal Trade Commission, (2000), Privacy Online: Fair Information Practices In The Electronic Marketplace, Retrieved on March 7, 2009 from http://www.ftc.gov/reports/privacy2000/privacy2000.pdf

Apple Corporation, (2007, June 29), Apple Customer Privacy Policy, Retrieved on March 7, 2009 from http://www.apple.com/legal/privacy/