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Apple Responds to U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce: 'The Customer is Not Our Product'

Last month, the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent letters to Apple and Google parent company Alphabet with 16 multi-part questions about how the companies handle customer data.


Apple has since responded to the letter, reiterating the company's belief that "privacy is a fundamental human right" and that it purposely designs its products and services to minimize its collection of customer data.

Timothy Powderly, Director of Federal Government Affairs at Apple, responded on behalf of Apple CEO Tim Cook:
Dear Mr. Chairman:

Thank you for your inquiry regarding the capabilities of Apple iPhone devices. Not all technology companies operate in the same manner— in fact, the business models 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 customer 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. Most of your questions are addressed in public-facing documents such as our privacy website, which can be found at www.apple.com/privacy. In addition, we recently answered similar questions from Senator Charles Grassley, and our responses are available online.

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 customers are entitled to transparency, choice, and control over their personal information. We would be pleased to brief Committee staff at your convenience.
Apple provided detailed responses to all 16 questions, and background information on location services, in its full-length letter.

Apple's Response to U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Questions on Personal Data Collection by MacRumors on Scribd



Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tag: privacy


Top Rated Comments

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18 weeks ago

Apple has since responded to the letter, reiterating the company's belief that "privacy is a fundamental human right" and that it purposely designs its products and services to minimize its collection of customer data.

This is, in my opinion, the biggest thing that sets Apple apart from nearly every other tech company and why I continue to support them.
Rating: 65 Votes
18 weeks ago
Quite frankly this is the main reason I will continue to purchase my computing devices from Apple. I commend them on their effort to keep privacy a major priority, especially in today's day and time.
Rating: 43 Votes
18 weeks ago
I'd like to read Google's response: "Android is not a phone operating system, it is an advertising platform, therefore ..."
Rating: 25 Votes
18 weeks ago
You can tell Apple takes privacy seriously and they are very clear and up front regarding their stance. This is a huge reason why they are so successful and it will only become more apparent as privacy becomes a bigger social issue. It's no surprise that Google already has plans to scrap Android and move on to their next OS that shares a lot of the same philosophies as Apple/iOS. It'll be interesting to see how Google responds to this same request. Their sole existence is centered on collecting and monetizing user data. I have been a happy Apple customer for a long time and this is a big reason why.
Rating: 23 Votes
18 weeks ago
Thanks Apple. You might not be perfect and I don't agree with many decisions Apple has taken in past years however this is, for me, a very important issue and I'm glad Apple year after year stands its ground. Thanks Apple!
Rating: 20 Votes
18 weeks ago

A fundamental human right in China?


Apple believes privacy is a human right. Just as you, Apple does not have control over a sovereign nation. It is up to the citizens of of those countries to change their governments.
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"We believe privacy is a fundamental human right and purposely design our products and services to minimize our collection of customer data."
What a joke. Is that what you tell your customers in China? Apple couldn't have any less respect for their customers if they tried, and boy are they trying.


Apple doesn’t control China. China can do whatever it wants to. Just because Apple believes privacy is a human right, doesn’t mean China has to care.
Rating: 17 Votes
18 weeks ago

You can tell Apple takes privacy seriously and they are very clear and up front regarding their stance. This is a huge reason why they are so successful and it will only become more apparent as privacy becomes a bigger social issue. It's no surprise that Google already has plans to scrap Android and move on to their next OS that shares a lot of the same philosophies as Apple/iOS. It'll be interesting to see how Google responds to this same request. Their sole existence is centered on collecting and monetizing user data. I have been a happy Apple customer for a long time and this is a big reason why.

Agreed, plus as a side note, I love that Apple allows the use of DuckDuckGo as a default search engine. I don't use Google really for squat outside of gmail account. DuckDuckGo is a great search engine.
Rating: 16 Votes
18 weeks ago
A fundamental human right in China?
Rating: 13 Votes
18 weeks ago
Apple:
Privacy is a right, unless you're in China.
Human rights are a right, but more so if you are a minority in the US.
Free speech is important, but not if we disagree with you as a company.

Used to work for them and love them, but this is what they've become.

Board should fire Tim and find someone who can build "insanely great" Macs, Mobile Devices, and Services, without all the other nonsense.
Rating: 9 Votes
18 weeks ago

A fundamental human right in China?


Of course! Privacy of Correspondence is article 40 of the Chinese Constitution ('https://www.usconstitution.net/china.html').

There's other great things in the Chinese Constitution too, like:

* Democracy
* Freedom of Speech
* Freedom of Assembly
* Freedom of the Press
* Freedom of Demonstration
* Freedom of Religion
* Freedom from Unlawful Search
* Freedom of Association

They even have the constitutional right to protection of the environment and protection from pollution! It's really a pretty great Constitution.

China must be a really awesome, clean, and free place to live. In fact I hear that 1989 some students got together in a square to practice their freedom of assembly and freedom of demonstration in order to celebrate their constitutional right to democracy. I'm sure the government appreciated the students' patriotic reverence for their nation's constitution!

Anyway, sarcasm aside, this is just a little reminder to my fellow Americans that a piece of paper called the Constitution doesn't protect us. Quite the opposite--we must protect the Constitution by continuously challenging the ever-increasing powers and reach of the government. And I thank Apple for their part in doing exactly that.
Rating: 8 Votes

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