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.

house committee commerce apple
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.

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.

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Top Rated Comments

macduke Avatar
78 months 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.
Score: 65 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GuruZac Avatar
78 months 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.
Score: 43 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mattyj2001 Avatar
78 months ago
I'd like to read Google's response: "Android is not a phone operating system, it is an advertising platform, therefore ..."
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DNichter Avatar
78 months 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.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tomnavratil Avatar
78 months 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!
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
2010mini Avatar
78 months 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.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)