My New iPhone, My Disappearing Privacy

My loss of privacy all started at a company-sponsored health and wellness fair in October. I got my blood pressure tested and my flu vaccine and I entered a drawing for an iPod Shuffle being given away by AC Transit. I occasionally take the transbay bus to work at the

My loss of privacy all started at a company-sponsored health and wellness fair in October.

I got my blood pressure tested and my flu vaccine and I entered a drawing for an iPod Shuffle being given away by AC Transit. I occasionally take the transbay bus to work at the Ziff Davis Enterprise office at 2nd and Mission in downtown San Fran and I was mostly interested in getting the free four-ride passes the representative was handing out.

As it turned out, I won, and in the mail I received an out-dated, 1GB iPod. Well, to use it I had to get iTunes.

And after I got iTunes, I got an iTunes gift certificate for Christmas.

And after I loaded up my iPod with the great dance hits of the '80s my beloved Treo started having problems.

Readers of this blog know that when I personally bought my Treo 650 many years ago, I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. Unfortunately, one too many drops along the way were making it impossible for callers to hear me, using either the handset or the wired headset. Since I refuse to use a Bluetooth (not for health reasons, I just can't stand the nerdiness/cost/short battery life. Besides, if I can't use my hand to hold the phone, then I'm probably not engaged in an activity where phone use is appropriate). headset, it seemed a new phone was in order.

Anyway, that led to a fateful hazing incident where the other labbies dared/taunted/hasseled me about getting an iPhone.

Now Andrew Garcia loves his iPhone despite initial go-to-market problems. I already had iTunes and was in love with my little iPod. So, with a need to get a new phone, I took the plunge and got an iPhone.

I won't regale you with the wonders of the iPhone. You've probably already seen other stories that specialize in that coverage.

It was a 15-minute process at the store to get my new iPhone, which as you may already know, is activated at home via iTunes.

I got the phone home, ripped off the cellophane covers, saved the beautiful box and started activating my phone.

Now I am one to read privacy and license agreements, or at least print them out and save them. By the time I was done, I had agreed to almost 40 pages of license and privacy notices. So somewhere in that mess I must have said, "Yes, it is OK to share my contact information from AT&T (my wireless service provider) with Apple." I know this because when I went to the Apple store the next day to get a case for my digital familiar the clerk had my e-mail address on her wireless checkout necklace before I could say "Mary had a little lamb."

"Would you like me to just email the receipt," she asked. I was so filled with geeky wonder at the fantastic amount of database-coding-wired-and-wireless-infrastructure-that-must-be-necessary-to-make-this-work that I didn't even question that my e-mail address was showing up at a store where I had never provided it.

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't want my transaction to be more difficult. I'm certainly not under the illusion that saving the environment was the motivation behind e-mailing my receipt instead of printing it on a piece of paper. (I was given a gigantic, double-walled plastic bag in the form of a backpack with the Apple logo on it to carry my 1.5-ounce case out of the store. The case box and Apple backpack were immediately trashed as I did a Charlie Bucket on the curb, anxious to get my iPhone into its new protective jacket.) I am concerned that WAY TOO MUCH personal information was used to cement my relation with Apple.

I dread going back to the 40-plus pages of legalese to which I agreed to find out where I said it was OK to share my personal information back and forth between AT&T and Apple. But that's where I need to go to find the answer to my questions and try to regain some of my personal privacy.