Craig Federighi Shares Apple’s Four Privacy Principles in Conference Keynote

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Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi today spoke at the virtual European Data Protection & Privacy Conference, where he highlighted Apple’s approach to privacy and commitment to keeping customer data safe.

Federighi’s keynote speech is available through the YouTube embed above, but make sure to skip to the 49 minute mark. Apple executives often speak about privacy, so much of what Federighi had to say at the event wasn’t new. He focused on the four key privacy principles that guide Apple.

  1. Not collecting unnecessary data through data minimization.
  2. Processing as much data on device as possible.
  3. Making it clear to customers what data is collected and giving them tools to control how that data is used.
  4. Keeping data safe through security, including Apple’s unique integration of hardware and software. Security is the foundation of privacy.

Federighi said that other companies “gather, sell, and hoard” as much personal data from customers as possible, which Apple finds “unacceptable.”

Now, others take the opposite approach. They gather, sell, and hoard as much of your personal information as they can. The result is a data-industrial complex, where shadowy actors work to infiltrate the most intimate parts of your life and exploit whatever they can find–whether to sell you something, to radicalize your views, or worse.

Federighi reiterated that Apple believes privacy is a “fundamental human right,” which is something that Apple executives often say, and he shared details on how Apple works on privacy behind the scenes. Apple’s privacy engineers, for example, evaluate new features to collect as little data as possible.

Federighi also pointed out Apple’s lead in the privacy field, such as end-to-end encryption, which inspired other companies to adopt better encryption after it was added to Apple’s products. “As Tim Cook says, we want to be the ripple in the pond that creates larger changes.”

He highlighted some of the new privacy-focused features in iOS, including the iOS 14 feature that will require apps to disclose when they’re using tracking functionality to follow your movements across apps and websites. The App Tracking Transparency feature is set to be enabled in early 2021, and it has some developers and advertising companies up in arms.

Of course, some advertisers and tech companies would prefer that ATT is never implemented at all. When invasive tracking is your business model, you tend not to welcome transparency and customer choice.

Just as with ITP, some in the ad industry are lobbying against these efforts–claiming that ATT will dramatically hurt ad-supported businesses. But we expect that the industry will adapt as it did before–providing effective advertising, but this time without invasive tracking.

Getting this right will take time, collaboration, listening–and true partnership across the entire technology ecosystem. But we believe the result will be transformative.

Federighi said that Apple would love to see competition among companies for the “best, the strongest, and the most empowering privacy features.”

In other words, we don’t define success as standing alone. When it comes to privacy protections, we’re very happy to see our competitors copy our work, or develop innovative privacy features of their own that we can learn from.

Federighi went on to conclude that he hopes Apple will be remembered not just for its devices, but for “helping humanity enjoy the benefits of this great technology… without requiring that they give up their privacy to do it.”

“It’s in our power today to end that false tradeoff… to build, for the long term, not just a foundation of technology, but a foundation of trust,” he said.

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