Thanks to Amazon Prime Days anything related to Apple fell on the newsroom floor. Politics never falls that low, so you may be forgiven if you missed the call by Washingtonians for Apple to stop preaching privacy and turn the talk into action.
This is one of those interesting an non-Prime Days items that I find intriguing because Apple’s executives have a tendency to talk from both sides of their collective mouths, or to speak in such a nuanced method that they believe they’re on both sides of the same argument.
When Apple CEO Tim Cook privately hosted six Democratic lawmakers at the company’s space-age headquarters this spring, he opened the conversation with a plea — for Congress to finally draft privacy legislation after years of federal inaction.
Apple believes in personal privacy. OK, let’s run with that.
Apple also believes in personal freedom. Uh, alright, that, too.
Do those two ever clash? Yes and often. For example, Apple pokes at Facebook and Google as two of the prime dangers to privacy, yet Apple has little trouble collecting money from Google to keep the search engine giant the default on Safari, and Facebook’s application and website easily track their users on every Apple product.
See? Apple walks on both sides of the fence at the same time. How does Apple do that?
A number of privacy advocates and U.S. lawmakers… say Apple has not put enough muscle behind any federal effort to tighten privacy laws. And state lawmakers, who are closest to passing rules to limit data sharing, say Apple is an ally in name only — and in fact has contributed to lobbying efforts that might undermine some new data-protection legislation.
So, Apple says publicly that government should step in and make privacy a personal right, while fighting such efforts behind the scenes, often indirectly funding groups that oppose such legislation.
Even worse, Apple seems to want a national privacy blanket that covers states that are working on their own privacy laws. I understand the need for efficiency– one set of laws is better than 50– but Apple also benefits from a long and protracted position as the privacy advocate in an era where nobody will agree on what that should be.
We believe privacy is a fundamental human right and is at the core of what it means to be an American. To that end, we advocate for strong federal legislation that protects everyone regardless of which state they may live
Wait. It gets worse.
Apple hasn’t signed on to privacy legislation that other companies, such as search engine DuckDuckGo, have supported, including an amendment to the new California law that prevents consumer data collection by default and gives citizens the right to sue tech companies for violations.
Why would Apple support such legislation?
It would not. Apple gathers information from customers, apps gather information from users, and policing all that gathering is a road fraught with potholes.
Yes, we can agree that Apple’s privacy policies need more action, but we can’t agree on what those actions should be.
Humanity is doomed.