Apple answers Congress' questions on customer privacy


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The Cupertino firm’s director of federal government affairs, Timothy Powderly, explained in the reply letter that Apple considers privacy to be a “fundamental human right.”

"We believe privacy is a fundamental human right and purposely design our products and services to minimize our collection of customer data," Powderly wrote. “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 letter echoes Apple’s previous statements on the matter, emphasizing that, unlike other big tech firms, the company’s business model is not dependent on selling identifiable user information to advertisers.

“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.”

Apple also addresses concerns over reports that its iPhones could collect ‘non-triggered’ audio from a conversation in order to identify the ‘trigger’ phase; in this case, “Hey Siri.” The company said iPhones don’t record audio while listening for these words and Siri does not share spoken words with third parties. It added that users must approve microphone access and apps must clearly display a sign that they are listening.

The company said it had removed apps from its App Store but didn’t reveal if it had ever banned a developer.

“Apple does not and cannot monitor what developers do with the customer data they have collected, or prevent the onward transfer of that data, nor do we have the ability to ensure a developer’s compliance with their own privacy policies or local law,” it wrote.

The letter also answered questions relating to Wi-Fi hotspots, Bluetooth connections, iOS, and more. You can read it in its entirety below.

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Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
Not sure how to take that one ..... sounds like they are choosing product over customer? Anyone else got a different read on it?


TS Evangelist
As much as I prefer Android over iOS, I do appreciate the effort they put into not harvesting customer data.

If a new iPhone X wasn't outlandishly $1200, I may consider.


TS Evangelist
It's hard to tell.
Certainly, with their current business model of selling devices at a massive profit over the manufacturing cost, they have little need to sell data to advertisers. Then again, it's usually not the phone manufacturer that does that - it's the app developer.
Also, given the massive drive towards advanced AI, I would presume that Apple (like Google and Microsoft) are data mining huge amounts of our data to improve the accuracy of the AI. While they might not record the actual name of the person, the data would need to be correlated to the user's profile such as age, location and various preferences.
When it comes to data mining of any kind (whether for the purpose of AI development or to sell to others) the customer is always a product.
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TS Addict
I'd like to believe what they are saying is true. In such case they should allow disabling data gathering on their devices completely. On the other hand it's pure income for every company doing it...