Apple, other tech titans cross swords on consumer privacy

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Apple takes privacy seriously
Apple takes consumer privacy seriously, but Google and Facebook don't. Can an industry trade group that includes all three company reach any kind of consensus?
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The Information Technology Industry Council will meet on Wednesday. This trade group, made up of Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and others, will discuss consumer privacy.

The proceedings are likely to be contentious, as these companies have very different views on the subject.

Their discussion was prompted by the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) going into effect this spring, according to Axios. This requires companies to get consent from users to collect their data, gives consumers the right to be forgotten, and there’s a requirement that data breeches be reported within three days.

Privacy was also brought to the forefront of most people’s consciousness by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifying to Congress about the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The U.S. government is reportedly mulling over its privacy protections for consumers, considering whether additional legislation is necessary. The members the Information Technology Industry Council will surely want to have some input on that.

Very different consumer privacy views

Coming up with a unifying statement from this industry trade group is certain to be a challenge because the members have completely opposing views on consumer privacy.

The business model of both Google and Facebook is to gathered personal information about users and sell it to advertisers. Both offer “free” products in exchange for collecting data about the users.

Apple, on the other hand, believes strongly in protecting the privacy of iPhone, iPad, and Mac owners. An iOS pop-up window spells out this company’s beliefs: “Apple believes privacy is a fundamental human right, so every Apple product is designed to minimize the collection and use of your data, use on-device processing whenever possible, and provide transparency and control over your information.”

Whether such disparate views within the Information Technology Industry Council can be brought together in any coherent way remains to be seen.