Lawmakers say Apple only pays lip service to enacting privacy laws

By

A late-night comedian pokes fun at our paranoia about iPhone privacy violations.
Apple calls privacy a fundamental human right but has been accused of being weak on legislation to back that up.
Photo: ABC

US lawmakers say Apple CEO Tim Cook has actively urged them to pass legislation that better protects the privacy of US consumers. However, congresspeople also say the iPhone maker isn’t doing enough to actually get laws passed.

Cook hosted a group of Democratic lawmakers in Cupertino this spring, with privacy at the top of the agenda.

“It was the first issue he brought up,” Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) told The Washington Post. Cook “really talked about the need for privacy across the board.”

But Apple hasn’t endorsed any of the privacy laws that have been proposed so far. Not even DelBene’s.

“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.) told The Washington Post.

Apple is plenty vocal on privacy

Last fall, CEO Tim Cook told told delegates at the European Parliament “We are in support of a comprehensive federal privacy law in the US.” He wants something similar to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) enacted in his home country.

Cook got into a well-publicized tiff with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg over privacy last year. Apple regularly contrasts its business practices with those of Facebook and Google, companies that gather as much personal information about users they can and then sells it to advertisers.

Which makes the company’s unwillingness to endorse any of the proposed national legislation puzzling.

Apple opposed to state privacy laws

But there’s one area where there’s no room for confusion: Apple is not in favor of individual states passing their own legislation to protect consumer privacy.

“We believe privacy is a fundamental human right and is at the core of what it means to be an American. To that end, we advocate for strong federal legislation that protects everyone regardless of which state they may live,” an Apple spokesman told The Washington Post. “We understand the frustration at the state level — we are frustrated too — but this topic is so important we need to be united across America.”