Apple’s Role in Privacy

Yesterday’s Irish Times article touched on the subject of privacy, and the dangers of Apple moving in to new markets, creating a one-stop company for many aspects of our lives, including emails, contacts, photos, and now banking.

I don’t disagree with the sentiment in the article, but I do quibble with the Apple being the focus. Over the last few years, Tim Cook has been a leading voice in the battle for privacy, and has set Apple out as having a very different view on how data is stored and analysed. He has called for US legislation to cover this area and every person updating to Mojave and iOS 12 will have seen the privacy statement from Apple, as they set themselves out from other companies who make money from analysing your data, such as Google and Facebook.

The author’s concerns are well made. But Apple seems to be the wrong target for this criticism. The company has always had a strong culture, which is unique to other tech firms. Looking back at interviews of Steve Jobs and Tim Cook shows how Apple view the user as a partner and not as the product. Facebook’s business model is the collection of data and the sale of this to third-party companies, which is used in turn for advertising purposes. Apple on the other hand has sought to protect sensitive information, and to use local chips inside devices to not upload this to the cloud- Face and Touch ID is an example of this.

Aside from privacy, Apple has also sought to push its values to the front of the leadership of the company. The appointment of Lisa Jackson, who reports directly to Tim Cook, has raised the highlighted their view of the environment, with Apple data centres aiming to be solely powered with solar power, along with recycling programmes for the materials inside Apple devices. This type of culture should be encouraged as Apple has sought to lead and push the environmental agenda to the foreground. Jackson has presented at Apple keynotes and Cook frequently talks about Apple’s values and their responsibility to the world around it.

So there are many, many criticisms which can be levelled at Apple; but I do feel that privacy and the encroaching dangers an expanding Apple is somehwatunjustified.