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    This is something we should have explicit, precise control over, but instead it’s a completely black box we have no control over or insight into whatsoever.

    I raise an eyebrow at the author being surprised or dismayed here. How was any part of the iPhone or iOS ever not “a completely black box” from day one? All software and firmware on the device, and on their servers, are utterly closed-source.

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      Compare the section where he describes the submission of feedback for voice transcription. That’s what he means by control.

      Having access to the source of some piece of software is orthogonal to controlling a third party’s use of said software.

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        Is it so orthogonal? All the sliders, checkboxen, radio buttons and toggles anyone wants in a UI can’t be assured to do what they’re claimed to do for as long as the software is closed source.

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          That’s true, but lots of people — especially prominent Apple bloggers like Gruber — trust Apple, and often much more so than other big tech companies. Seeing this is surprising, especially when other major tech companies do it better.

          And from a practical standpoint, unless you’re running open-source hardware with open-source firmware and drivers on an open-source operating system all of which you’ve verified, including looking at the boards to see if China or the NSA snuck a secret snitch module in there, at some level you’re trusting the system. People trusted Apple, and in this case got burned.

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            I think we might be talking past each other.

            Here’s the situation as I see it: you use an interface to a remote service. The interface has an option that says “preserve my privacy”. You choose that option, and as the software for the interface you’re using is open source, you can confirm that that option is actually set.

            The data is sent to the third party, who betrays your trust and doesn’t preserve your privacy.

            The fact that the software you have access to is open source doesn’t give you any control over how a third party handles your information after you’ve relinquished control over it.