Former Facebook Security Chief Calls out Tim Cook for Apple’s Double Standards When It Comes to Privacy

At the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC) in Brussels on Wednesday, Tim Cook in his opening keynote criticized other tech companies in the silicon valley and mentioned how data of users is being weaponized with military efficiency. 

Cook made some pretty strong statements as a part of his speech and just short stopped of naming companies like Google and Facebook who primarily rely on ad revenue.

“We at Apple can — and do — provide the very best to our users while treating their most personal data like the precious cargo that it is. And if we can do it, then everyone can do it,” said Tim Cook.

However, Apple’s CEO has been called out for his double standards against Chinese citizens. To meet government regulations, Apple has blocked access to many kinds of apps in the Chinese App Store. This includes removal of all VPN apps and selected encrypted messaging apps as per the government’s regulations.

He has been called out for his double standards by Alex Stamos former chief security officer of Facebook in a series of tweets. While he agrees with what Tim Cook has said as a part of his privacy speech, he highlights that what Apple does in China cannot be ignored as well.

The company uses “hardware-rooted DRM to deny Chinese users the ability to install the VPN and E2E messaging apps that would allow them to avoid pervasive censorship and surveillance.” He further adds that China is an “ethical blind spot” for many tech companies, with the poor working conditions, censorship, and surveillance all being ignored.

He also calls out Apple to “come clean” on how iCloud works in China and to stop “setting damaging precedents for how willing American companies will be to service the internal security desires of the Chinese Communist Party.”

Our Take

The series of tweets made by Alex Stamos definitely raise a valid point. Despite Tim Cook and Apple’s efforts to show themselves as a company that value privacy and data of their users, the company has bent its back multiple times to meet the demands of the Chinese government just to ensure it is able to continue doing business in what is an incredibly important market for the company.