Apple has a no-nonsense message for Congress: privacy is a fundamental human right. The comment came in a response to a request from the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce asking about Apple’s data collection and privacy policies and practices.
Apple’s director of federal government affairs Timothy Powderly replied with a multi-page letter posted to ScribD by 9to5Mac (embedded below). That letter details the ways Apple uses on-device processing, differential privacy, and the fact that its customers aren’t the products to protect customer privacy.
Apple Thinks Privacy Is a Fundamental Human Right
Below are the parts of Mr. Powderly’s introduction that speak specifically to the importance of privacy
Not all technology companies operate in the same manner—in fact, the business model and data collection and use practices are often radically different from one another. Apple’s philosophy and approach to customer data differs from many other companies on these important issues.
We believe privacy is a fundamental human right and purposely design our products and services to minimize our collection of user data. When we do collect data, we’re transparent about it and work to disassociate it from the user. We utilize on-device processing to minimize data collection by Apple. The customer is not our product, and our business model does not depend on collecting vast amounts of personally identifiable information to enrich targeted profiles marketed to advertisers.
Because we strongly believe the customer should control their personal information and the way it’s used, we provide a number of easily accessible resources on our website so that they can make wise choices.
Innovation at Apple means designing a new product or service with customer privacy as a key element of design, and not an obligation. We hope that the responses below are helpful in understanding these topics and make clear Apple’s position that customer are entitled to transparency, choice, and control over their personal information.
The message in this letter is clear and direct: Apple protects user privacy and believes strongly that customers are entitled to that privacy. Other tech companies? Not so much.
Apple Letter to the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce
The full letter (below) includes direct answers to the committee’s questions.