Apple has always had a firm stance on its use of encryptions and user privacy. This has often been a point of positivity from a consumer standpoint but it’s become a point of contention when the FBI and politicians are involved.
Recently, Apple’s Senior Director of Global Privacy Jane Horvath spoke on a panel during CES in Las Vegas, according to Bloomberg‘s report. During the panel, Horvath defended Apple’s encryption policies. iPhones and other Apple devices are often lost or stolen, so Apple has taken the appropriate measures in order to secure user data.
That, of course, is only a small piece of the bigger picture. When the FBI gets involved, Apple has willingly assisted in investigations—to an extent. In reference to a Florida shooting, where a gunman shot and killed three people on a naval base, authorities wanted access to his smartphone and approached Apple. The company went on to state: “When the FBI requested information from us relating to this case a month ago we gave them all of the data in our possession and we will continue to support them with the data we have available.”
This is par for the course when it comes to Apple’s willingness to assist. The company has often given access to iCloud information pertaining to a user during an investigation. However, Apple has been firm to say they are not willing to unlock iPhones to grant access to on-device data. The company has even argued that their encryptions stop them from accessing the data even if they felt inclined. In the Florida case, the shooter was deceased and the FBI was unable to access any recent logs.
Apple has continually stood by its stance despite pushback. As Bloomberg points out, a similar incident, regarding the San Bernadino shooting in 2015 saw authorities approach Apple asking to unlock the shooter’s device. Once again, Apple declined.
The reasons all come back to the importance of privacy in Apple’s eyes. The company has used its encryptions and policies as a one-up over competitors for years. During the CES panel, Horvath used this as a focal point in the discussion. In an example, Horvath explained that Siri only pulls weather from the user’s current city and not exact location via longitude and latitude. She also explained that Apple places a privacy engineer and lawyer on each team as they develop new devices.