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

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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.


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.

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

macduke

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Jun 27, 2007
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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.
 

DNichter

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Apr 27, 2015
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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.
 

GuruZac

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Sep 9, 2015
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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.
 

mlrproducts

macrumors 6502
Apr 18, 2004
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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.
 

iamgalt

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Jul 25, 2012
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And this is why I don't see myself ever switching over to Android, unless some MAJOR CHANGES happen in that OS. But somehow I doubt that's going to be happening any time soon. When it comes to privacy, I think Apple has a great policy.
 

DNichter

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Apr 27, 2015
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And this is why I don't see myself ever switching over to Android, unless some MAJOR CHANGES happen in that OS. But somehow I doubt that's going to be happening any time soon. When it comes to privacy, I think Apple has a great policy.
I agree, but there might be changes at some point. Google is smart enough to know that they can’t keep pushing spyware forever. There are already internal plans to scrap Android and introduce an OS locked down like Apple.
 
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H2SO4

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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.
Not me. I think it's hilarious that they condemn Google et al but continue to use their services etc. Hipocrasy of the highest order. Moan about human rights in China but have all their stuff built there.
Let others do the dirty work for you and ride around on a white unicorn spouting crap, that's the Apple MO on these matters.

Had a friend that's just turned organic vegetarian due to animal rights issues, man he doesn't even buy leather goods or eggs. He, is showing that he has the conviction to make a change, even though it costs him.
 
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Greymacuser

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Jul 31, 2012
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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.
 
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mattster16

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Apr 18, 2004
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I try to tell my Android using friends about this all the time. They never believe me. They all think it is just the opposite, that Google is more secure and that Apple is big brother collecting everyone's data. I'd love to see Google's response to this questionnaire. Something tells me it will be written with much more legalese.
 

H2SO4

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Nov 4, 2008
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I agree, but there might be changes at some point. Google is smart enough to know that they can’t keep pushing spyware forever. There are already internal plans to scrap Android and introduce an OS locked down like Apple.
Can you link me to some genuine proof of Google spyware please?
[doublepost=1533673385][/doublepost]
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.
So you pick and choose as it suits you?
 

Naraxus

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Oct 13, 2016
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El oh el. More doublespeak from Timmy and his gang. If that were true then they would strip Google and Facebook integration, return the kickbacks Google's given them over the years and not have started iAds years ago.

Tim's duplicity is astounding.
 

2010mini

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Jun 19, 2013
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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.
[doublepost=1533674571][/doublepost]
"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.