In Steve Jobs’s eras as CEO, Apple reflected his character and qualities. That was thrilling in most ways, because he demanded something close to perfection. But then the underdog revolutionized mobile computing and became the winner—one day we all realized it was one of the planet’s most powerful, profitable and valuable companies. Apple became the kind of company I prefer not to support: control-freakish to a fault with customers, software developers and the press; and, I came to believe, even dangerous to the future of open networks and user-controlled technology.
At the same time, Google and Facebook, among others, were emerging as powers of a different kind: centralized entities that use surveillance as a business model, stripping away our privacy in return for the great convenience they provide. Our mobile devices—and even our PCs, the key tools for tech liberty in earlier decades—increasingly came with restrictions on how we could use them.