Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Steve Wozniak: Apple and Microsoft Blew It on Privacy

The Apple cofounder tells Lloyd Grove why he supports the NSA leaker, how the agency hasn’t ‘done one thing valuable for us’—and why the Internet wasn’t supposed to be this way:

Sitting down with me on Tuesday at the Ford Motor Co. campus in Dearborn, Mich., during the “Go Further With Ford” 2013 Trend Conference, Wozniak added: “I don’t think terrorism is war. I think terrorism is a crime. And by using the word ‘war’ we’ve managed to use all these weird ways to say the Constitution doesn’t apply in the case of a war. And I think Edward Snowden is a hero because this came from his heart. And I really believe he was giving up his whole life because he just felt so deeply about honesty, about spying on Americans, and he wanted to tell us.”

“When the Internet first came, I thought it was just the beacon of freedom. People could communicate with anyone, anywhere, and nobody could stop it…Now it turns out that every single thing we send as email counts as publicly viewable and it’s totally open and exposed, and can be taken for whatever reason. That wasn’t supposed to be. That wasn’t where we thought the Internet was going to go. We thought it was going to elevate the really average people over huge, big, controlling governments and protect us from tyrants.”

Instead, “it allows the tyrants to get tighter control over more and more of our lives,” Wozniak lamented.

He suggested the two top technology companies, Microsoft and Apple, missed an opportunity by not incorporating PGP (for “pretty good privacy) Encryption software into their products. “If two companies, Microsoft and Apple, and built in PGP Encryption,” Wozniak said, “every email would have been encrypted and uncrackable.”


  1. what revisionist history. I'll bet that is how he remembers it: Apple and MS conceived of, shaped and nurtured the Internet. In actuality they were both so far behind the curve the whole time it was not funny.

    Ten years after every unix computer included tcp/ip and client/server applications that used it, MS Windows and MAC OS had no Internet capability. I remember carrying around disks to install a winsock program to allow my MS running customers access to the Internet. Same with MAC.

    When Gates finally saw how big the net had become he tried to turn it into a large TV station with active desktop, which allowed the giant companies to "push" content onto your desktop. You would subscribe to a news push channel and passively accept what MS decided to send you instead of searching out the information that you wanted. It was a total misconception of the technology and a failure.

    It would have been nice if the people who built email apps and web browsers included PGP. they didn;t (in the unix versions or the MS/Apple versions) probably because they underestimated human propensity for evil

    1. He wasn't saying 'Apple and MS conceived of, shaped and nurtured the Internet" -- at least not in this quoted material.

      I agree Apple and MS were way behind the curve. Nonetheless, they are responsible for bringing the internet to the average person. Wozniak is right. had MS and Apple embraced PGP (or some other secure end-to-end email system), there would be a lot more privacy (although traffic metadata would still be attainable).

    2. In my opinion, MS bought or copied pre-existing Internet applications. Its Internet Explorer was a copy of Netscape Navigator. If Netscape had included PGP encryption, MS would have included it. Since Netscape did not have PGP the MS copy did not. Same for the email apps and the email server. MS added nothing, directed nothing and was clueless about the Internet. It missed the chance to add PGP just as it missed every chance to contribute anything to the early development of the net. The contention that it might have built a more secure version of the net is laughable.

      If it had been creative and added anything to the net, well it might have been super creative and prescient and created a secure net.

  2. I think you guys miss the point...

    EVERYBODY missed it. We thought the world was fair.

    Time to play catch-up.

    1. That is my point. MS and Apple added nothing to the net.

      People like Paul Vixie who wrote sendmail and released it for free for anyone to use were honorable men and never imagined other power mad men would archive all the email moving in clear text for possible future use against anyone who used email.

      At one time sendmail moved nearly 90% of all Internet email, even after other applications took over some of the share, they were all sendmail compatible. If Paul doubted the good will of his fellow men a little bit more. he might have encrypted the dafault piece of email. He totally missed the potential for SPAM also. One reason SPAM is such a problem is the choice Vixie made when designing mail transports. It was total trust, like a Scandinavian country, when the world is more like Iraq.