April 21, 2011

Connect the Apple dots with Al Gore

[Sorry for the spate of links here, but it is necessary for validation purposes.]

Apple is named technology's least green company. As Drudge points out, Al Gore is on the Board of Directors at Apple. Okay, that's just a little bit hypocritical but Gore can always claim he wasn't aware of the bad practices.  But there's still more linkage. Apple it turns out is stalking you. It's tracking your movements if you use their devices. You might ask 'why is Apple tracking me'? That's big brother scary but Apple says there's a reason for it.

According to PC World, it's not really to track you per se.
On Wednesday, two researchers released an open source application called iPhone Tracker that pulls data from a hidden location history database contained in your iOS device's backup files saved on your PC. The app then plots this location information on a map allowing you to see your phone's travels over the past year. Your iOS devices have been building this location database since iOS 4 was released in June of last year, the researchers say.

The data appears to be based on cell tower triangulation and not GPS. This means the location information is not pinpoint accurate, but only shows your general location. The researchers also discovered in the database a list of Wi-Fi access points that your device has been in range of during the past year.

The researchers don't believe this data is leaving your custody, but I disagree. My best guess is that it is leaving your device as anonymized and encrypted information that Apple then uses to build its cell tower and Wi-Fi access point database.
I've worked in Telecom and that explanation makes a lot of sense. Whether people accept that is another story.  But there are still those dots to be connected. A green Al Gore is on the board of non-green Apple which is also tracking device movements for the purposes of well, whatever.  Meanwhile Apple's latest quarterly results seem pretty darn good and Al Gore has shares and share options.

Can Apple weather the storm on the not green issue and the tracking issue?  Definitely.  Neither one is a huge issue especially if Apple manages them properly.  But nevertheless the stock could take a temporary hit.  Then could Al Gore short his own stock for a quick profit? Short selling isn't illegal.  And it doesn't necessarily qualify as insider trading since these stories are in the public domain.  Plus he's got the reason to do so in the non-green news item. So it would seem that he could.  

Would he?  I don't know but he's in a public relations trap no matter what he does.  If he doesn't sell he looks hypocritical on the green agenda.  If he does, he looks like a profiteer, counter to his altruistic image he tries to maintain.  Standing on the sidelines watching him contort his way through this would be amusing, except that I expect the mainstream media will let him skate on this one, just like with his contortions on An Inconvenient Truth.

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