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Tech Giants Don’t Make Themselves

A few years ago, at a holiday dinner, a good friend asked my opinion on how much time will pass before our reliance on technology renders us vulnerable to “technological dystopia” by way of a terrorist attack on an information hub. My answer, which I doubt will be a revelation to my friends in the tech industries, was that it depends on the rate at which our needs converge on such a resource, allowing for a widely impactful “kill switch.” Of course, overreliance on one source is a vulnerability exploitable by more than just terrorists.

If you stop and think about it, we use divergent resources to manage personal risks, such as having cash on hand in case of temporary banking issues, a backup of data, and multiple ways to enter our home in case of a lost key. These measures are necessary but not always comfortable, and who can argue with comfort?

One company that strives to bring maximum comfort to its customers is Apple. Their products are easy to use, come with lots of neat tools, and are shinier than most. Best of all, they work together nicely due to proprietary software that almost entirely controls the user experience and unifies interfaces via an “Apple ID.”

You could say that Apple has mastered technological “convergence,” by way of Apple IDs at the individual level and central platforms such as iMessage and the App Store at the macro level. Furthermore, Apple controls its operating systems and has been known to push out, without any involvement by the device owner, updates to block cyber threats. The same power could be used to block anything else. To assume you fully own your Apple device and that they do not have control over what you see is naivete.

You love your iPhone. That’s understandable. Many of us have been there. You’ll need to decide if the comfort is worth it. Don’t base your decision on whether the recent political shifts are in your favor. The pendulum will swing the other way sooner or later, as it always does. And by the way, this is not just about Apple, and it’s by no means an attack thereof. There is a similar risk in converging on Google: Google Android, Google Search, Google smart home technology, etc.

So, where do we go from here? The market for private, independent smartphones is still in its infancy, but worth noting. Carriers such as Verizon and AT&T are still waiting for the proper level of demand. Here are a few makes to keep an eye on:

https://www.fossmint.com/linux-secure-phones-for-privacy

https://puri.sm/products/librem-5/

https://freedomphones.net/

In the meantime, consider that being tied to one device manufacturer for all of your needs is a dangerous prospect. Independence is not easy, and this is no time to get comfortable.

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