Privacy has been a major concern for Apple for some time, and every year the company announces new ways to make its devices more secure. this week, ELLE The magazine published an interview with Jane Horvath, Apple’s chief privacy officer, in which she talks about backdoors in iOS, the GDPR, and more.
With a degree in computer science, Hovarth began her career as a programmer for a government contractor long before she joined Apple. But thanks to her ambitions, she attended law school and landed a job at AOL in 1995 as one of the youngest lawyers on the team.
The CEO describes Apple’s business model as being very different from other technology companies. In her first meeting to discuss what data engineers could collect from a device, she heard from a colleague that although they could identify a person by the data they collected, they didn’t want to do so.
A colleague told me, “We might be able to piece this data together into all the other data we collect and identify someone in some way, and we don’t want to do that.” I thought, Wow, you’ve come to a place that really protects privacy.
Backdoors in iOS
Since the December 2015 San Bernardino case, the FBI has asked Apple to develop a way to unlock iOS devices without users’ passwords after police recovered an iPhone 5C from a shooter. However, Apple always refused the request – prompting the FBI to work with another security company on a brute-force unlock method for iOS.
Apple’s head of privacy, who was part of the discussions in this case, said the company would have unlocked this iPhone if it hadn’t affected “every other phone”. However, creating a backdoor for this one instance would also open a security breach that would put all customers at risk.
Horvath says Apple has resisted requests to build a version of iOS that “would have left every other phone vulnerable”.
GPDR and online privacy
In a world where everything is connected to the Internet, privacy is more important than ever. And while there are people who think “privacy doesn’t matter,” they are likely to be affected by things like data leaks and ransomware. For Horvath, this is why security and privacy are so directly related.
Speaking of online advertising, the CEO cautions about the amount of data this content collects from users. She argues that what Apple is trying to do is bring this to the attention of customers with alerts and options so they can decide whether or not they still want to be tracked.
Pause when one of these chests appears, and read a little about what it has to say. Also, go back and look at the choices I’ve made, because even I, in the throes of wanting something, make certain choices. This, and always think before posting. The data appears, and it is very difficult to recover it.
Horvath compares iOS privacy features to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is a European Union law to ensure that user data is protected as a human right. The executive believes that Apple devices give its customers “the same user rights as Europeans, no matter where they sit”.
The interview also contains some other details about Horvath’s career as well as some tips she offers to help users ensure their privacy online.
You can read the full interview in the article available at ELLE.com.
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