Apple jabs ‘other companies’ in defending customer data policies to lawmakers

Apple jabs ‘other companies’ in defending customer data policies to lawmakers
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Apple in a letter to lawmakers on Tuesday defended its data collection practices and took a pointed jab at "other companies" that may be less committed to protecting the privacy of their customers.

"We believe privacy is a fundamental human right and purposely design our products and services to minimize our collection of customer data," Apple executive Timothy Powderly wrote in a letter to Rep. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenHouse Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Energy issues rule allowing companies to develop own efficiency tests for products | GOP lawmakers push back on Federal Reserve's climate risk efforts Bipartisan fix for 'surprise' medical bills hits roadblock MORE (R-Ore.), head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. 


"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."

The letter came after Walden and other Republicans on the committee pressed Apple and Google for more information on their data collection practices last month, questioning whether consumers' smartphones collected location or audio data without their knowledge.

At the time, the lawmakers separately requested more information in letters about Google's Android capabilities and Apple's iOS capabilities. 

Lawmakers cited a November report in Quartz alleging that Android devices collected users' location data even when the user disabled location services and other network capabilities. This information, according to the Quartz report, is then sent back to Google.

“Considering that many consumers likely believe that a phone that lacks a SIM card, or one for which they have affirmatively disabled location services, WiFi, or Bluetooth — such as through turning on ‘Airplane Mode’ — is not actively tracking them, this alleged behavior is troubling,” the lawmakers wrote. 

Apple pointedly emphasized that different companies approach data collection differently. 

"Apple's philosophy and approach to customer data differs from many other companies on these important issues," the letter reads.

Google has not yet responded publicly to lawmakers.

The tech giant also said they are committed to transparency on their data collection practices.

"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," the company says, pointing to public records on their website.

"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," the letter concludes, while offering to brief lawmakers about the subject.