SYNOPSIS: The year is 2022. Everything from your car to your washing machine to your fricking lightbulb is “smart” and “connected.” While this has a massive upside in terms of convenience and magic, it also has a massive downside: you never really own it. Think about it: If Apple blacklists you, your shiny new iPhone is just a smooth glass glowing brick. It’s time you ask: Who owns my iPhone, really? read on to find out.
Tesla: “Not Your Car.”
The year was 2016. There was this dude, bragging to me at a party in SF about his shiny new Tesla Model S. To demonstrate his geek-chic, he whipped out his iPhone, pulled up the Tesla app, which showed a satellite map, and said confidently: “Watch this.”
After tapping a button on the screen, he spoke loudly into his phone:
“Rosy (his nickname for his car, apparently),
exit the garage and wait for me at curbside.”
On the map, I could see an icon representing his car, sitting in what appeared to be his garage, 500 miles south in L.A., moving out of the garage and parking itself onto the street out front. Something like this: (center image)
Wow. I guess?
You know what I told that fucker?
“Wow… that’s really impressive. Amazing. Now, Jim: How’re you gonna feel when I hack the shit out of your phone and pull a Grand Theft Tesla on your sorry ass?… Hands free!?!”
His jaw dropped.
I walked away, contented.
I’ve got a lot more to say on this topic, from the time the first volley was fired, way back in ancient days, c.2013. It was around then when Apple, unannounced, decided to do me the “favor” of freeing up ~150GB on my local hard drive array, and deleted — without my permission — all my purchased, downloaded, and even all my “personally ripped from physical CDs I had bought at the record store” music. I simply opened up my laptop one morning and was greeted with the cheeky notification:
Congratulations, we’ve freed up 147GB of your storage space!
My options were “OK” and “Learn more…”. There was no option to “Revert” or “Give me back my Music!” …Go figure.
Apple: “Not Your Music.”
What?!?! And this, purportedly as a service to me: they had *replaced* those painstakingly ripped and re-named and album-art-attached mp3 tracks with optimized tracks that they had licensed and certified, hosted high and dry as locked MP4s up in the Cloud. Mind you, that without an internet connection, I was now without music (I was not alone in this situation). Music that I had spent >$10,000 across the years to “purchase.” Music that Apple had just made clear: was. not. mine.
Apple, as always, was an innovator in this arena, but not at all alone.
Less than a year ago, this, from Google:
And I don’t have time right now to go into detail of the utter disaster that once upon a time I thought of as “my” Kindle containing “my” books, but I’ll sum it up in couple paragraphs:
Amazon: “Not Your Books.”
A month ago Amazon (the very same Amazon who is the best embodiment of global machine control of humans) unilaterally decided to delete my account (which I had maintained for 18+ years!!), and whooosh! …the next time I turned on my Kindle to browse through my 200+ purchased books…? GONE. They bricked my Kindles. ALL of them. The laptop app, the phone app, the web access, the old Kindle, and the new Kindle.
OK… to be clear, it was not a total brick. I could still turn on the device…. technically, they remotely logged me out of all the apps, and my Kindles were remotely factory reset as soon as I powered them up. When I tried to log back in, I was greeted with the message : “That account no longer exists.” When I called customer support and asked why they had stolen all my books that I had purchased, there reply was simple, the best corporate spin move I’d ever heard:
“You never actually bought the books… you purchased a license to read them…. You still own the licenses… you just can’t read them via any Kindle device or app… but you still own the licenses.”— Amazon Customer Service Supervisor
When I asked how I might download said 200 books in order to read them via my own apps or public domain services, I was told: “You cannot download your content. We have deleted and deactivated your account. The decision is not appealable.”
So there it is.
Q: “Who Owns My iPhone?”
Big Tech A: “Not Yours, Ours.”
Let this be fair warning: If it’s attached to “the Cloud”, no matter what your chosen illusion is, whether you think it’s “your” books, your music, your cryptocurrency, or even your car:
you really don’t own it.
The true spiritual question is:
did you ever?
Don’t worry about the ownership anyways. That’s merely details.
It wasn’t even humans who designed your phones miraculous innards in the first place (despite the awesomeness that is Jony Ives).