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Geoffrey Fowler Challenges Apple’s Privacy Stance

Consumer privacy was a hot topic at this year’s CES, which likely accounted for Apple’s first official appearance at the show in years: Apple’s Senior Director of Global Privacy Jane Horvath sitting in on a panel about privacy. Tim Cook has defined his time as CEO with a strong privacy stance, but the Washington Post’s Geoffrey Fowler was there in person to challenge Apple to do better.

Last year, Apple put up a massive billboard outside of CES that said, “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone.” Fowler asked Horvath what the company is doing to make that statement true. Horvath’s vague response was unsatisfying: “We’re constantly innovating, including in operating process.”

You may recall that Fowler penned an investigation for the Washington Post that revealed over 5400 trackers sending information from his iPhone over a week (see “iOS App Trackers Are Watching You,” 1 June 2019). And of course, the New York Times has been reporting on concerns about location privacy (see “The New York Times Reveals How Completely Our Every Move Is Tracked,” 19 December 2019).

Fowler points out that while Apple is careful to encrypt information for its own services, it does little to police third-party apps. Since Apple approves every app distributed via the App Store, it could certainly do more here, especially with all the resources at its disposal.

Of course, even with Fowler’s well-directed criticism of Apple, he acknowledges that other companies are worse offenders. He wrote:

Facebook’s privacy chief Erin Egan was also on that CES panel and said, with a straight face, “I think privacy is protected today for people on Facebook.”

Egan said that despite Facebook being slapped with a $5 billion fine by the Federal Trade Commission for privacy violations in July 2019.

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Comments About Geoffrey Fowler Challenges Apple’s Privacy Stance

Notable Replies

  1. What a shame that I, as a European, am unable to read the WP: it has decided to block us because its site is not compliant with the privacy-protecting GDPR.

    (Yes, I could subscribe and so remove the block and block the ads — and maybe their trackers, but I don’t see $121/year of value there — either for me, or as what they’d get for the ads they’d otherwise push my way. Too bad.)

  2. Regarding Washington Post subscriptions:

    In the US, at least, Amazon Prime members can get the digital Post at a substantial discount. After a free promotional period, the cost is $4/month vs the undiscounted $10/month. I don’t know if this deal is available in Europe or not.

  3. Oh the irony!

  4. I picked up an annual subscription to the WP for 40 bucks, and I’ve seen cheaper at times. The one newspaper I can’t see from Ireland is the LA Times. Other smaller newspapers seem to have no issue getting GDPR compliant.

  5. Whilst that may have been true in the early days of GDPR it was certainly working in my London hotel on Tuesday am when I tested it following this post.

    You do need to acknowledge the usual cookie nonsense but it is available.

    FWIW I managed to pickup up a WaPo sub for $10 per annum, including a monthly free sub that I can give to someone, plus this year a free second sub. I expected it to only last for the first year but I have renewed it at least once. Great value :slight_smile: I also use it to beat other subscription vendors over the head when they try comparative arguments in their sales pitches :slight_smile:

    Of course a TidBits subscription is even better value !


  6. Where did you find this? When I looked on Amazon yesterday, the only offer I saw was for $6/month.

  7. It’s possible that I got a good deal when I originally subscribed. I just checked my status and my rate has stayed at $4/month.

  8. This was a long time ago when I worked for the User Group of a multinational corporation. We had user groups by country. In Europe, the user groups prepared their own content, which was sent to the user group’s office in Geneva, where it was put together for paste-up (this was all done with paper in the old days) then sent to a printer for printing. The finished newsletters were returned by the printer to the Geneva office addressed then mailed to the users from Geneva. I was advised what we were doing was illegal under French law. As the law was explained to me the French user group had received the user’s name and address and been given permission to send them notifications of events and a newsletter. That permission did not extend to any other entity (like the Geneva office) and without getting written permission from the user to send it to Geneva and so were in violation of the law.

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