While Apple formally supports the notion of a federal privacy law,
the company has yet to formally back any bills proposed on the
Hill — unlike Microsoft. “I would argue there’s a need for Apple
to be a more vocal part of this debate,” said Sen. Mark R. Warner
(D-Va.), a fierce critic of tech companies for their privacy
“If you are going to use the value of privacy in your marketing, I
think you have an obligation to your consumers to tell us what
that means,” said India McKinney, a legislative analyst for the
Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties organization
that advocates for Internet privacy and security.
McKinney noted that Apple hasn’t signed on to privacy legislation
that other companies, such as Web browser 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. If Apple were to
throw its weight behind strong privacy protections even at the
state level, it would help counter pressure from other large tech
companies to water down the legislation, she said. “That would
make headlines. That would be really useful,” she said.
Interesting dilemma on this one. I can see the argument that without backing specific legislation, Apple’s privacy stance is insular, guiding only its own products and services. But do we really want any private companies, even Apple, dictating the terms of public policy? Do Facebook and Google get a seat at the table?