Apple has made its return to CES for the first time in 28 years, as a representative of the world’s biggest tech company appeared on-stage at the world’s biggest tech conference.
Apple wasn’t showing off new products, however. Instead, Jane Horvath, Apple’s senior director of global privacy, participated in a panel Tuesday titled “Chief Privacy Officer Roundtable: What Do Consumers Want?” The panel also included representatives from Facebook, Procter & Gamble, and the FTC.
“At Apple, the way we define privacy is to put the consumers in the driver’s seat,” Horvath told the audience. “They should have control over their data, they should have choices over their data.”
Horvath continued that, for every new product, Apple assigns a privacy engineer and privacy lawyer to work with the team. She explained that Tim Cook is passionate about privacy, and that sentiment “flows through” the rest of Apple. Horvath said that she did not believe the tech industry could ever do enough to promote user privacy.
“I don’t think we can ever say we’re doing enough. We should always be doing more. Things are changing, there’s no way to say that at this point in time we’ve reached a panacea.”
Beyond CES: Apple and privacy
Apple’s focus on privacy is one that existed under Steve Jobs. But it has become a more public focus of Apple’s under Tim Cook’s leadership. Much of this is because of the increased prevalence of large scale hacks and massive data mining.
Unlike Apple’s rivals — such as Facebook and Google — Apple’s business model is not based on monetizing user data. That mean it can push for privacy without worrying that this will hurt its business. Cook has publicly expressed admiration for schemes like Europe’s GDPR guidelines. Maintaining users’ privacy even caused Apple’s standoff with the FBI over their request that Apple create a backdoor to let them access iPhones.
2020 is the first time since 1992 that Apple appeared at CES. However, last year it did have a notable presence at the event. Specifically, Apple erected a privacy-focused billboard in Las Vegas, where CES takes place. This read: “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone.”
It seems that this year Cupertino decided to go one step further and send someone to spread that message.