Page 2 – Apple’s Privacy History and What Steve Jobs Thought
In contrast, the most popular argument about Apple is that the company can afford to care about privacy, because it makes its money on hardware. I’ve written about this before in my piece Apple’s Privacy is a Feature, Not a Hangup. The argument says that if Apple was more like Google and Facebook, it wouldn’t care about privacy so much. But Apple’s privacy stance began with Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs’s Remarks on Privacy
A well-known interview with Steve Jobs was in 2010 when Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg interviewed him:
Even 8 years ago Apple was thinking about the privacy of its customers, like with app permissions. Steve was saying that iOS makes sure to keep bugging users when an app requests their data.
Privacy means people know what they’re signing up for, in plain English, and repeatedly. I’m an optimist; I believe people are smart, and some people want to share more data than other people do. Ask them. Ask them every time. Make them tell you to stop asking them if they get tired of your asking them. Let them know precisely what you’re going to do with their data.
This is where my argument starts. When I judge something, whether it be a person or a company, I tend to look at their actions, not just what they say. People can and will say anything, including: Actions speak louder than words.
True, those are “just” the words of Steve Jobs. But here are the actions: Technologies like encryption, differential privacy, Touch ID and Face ID, the Secure Enclave, strict App Store guidelines, etc. Apple is going out of its way to make its products and services private.
I’m not here to take pot shots at Mr. Zuckerberg or even defend Apple. Apple doesn’t need bloggers like me to defend it. But I think you either believe that Apple cares about privacy, or it doesn’t. There is no “Apple cares because they can afford to”. There is no “If Facebook and Apple switched places, Apple would advertise and Facebook would be private.” Those arguments are fallacious and seems to me an example of “whataboutism.”