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Apple exec Jane Horvath reflects on privacy in new interview

Jane Horvath, Apple’s chief privacy officer, thinks that everything leads back to privacy.

The Apple executive recently sat down for an interview with Elle to talk about her career, joining Apple, and the future of privacy. Horvath said that her dream job has always been working at Apple and, after working up from Baskin Robbins to Google, she eventually joined the company and was pleasantly surprised how strong its stance was regarding privacy.

Apple’s business model is so different. From my very first meeting, when we were debating what data the engineers can collect off a device, a colleague said to me, “We might be able to string this data together to all of the other data we’re collecting and somehow identify someone , and we don’t want to do that.” I thought, Wow, I have arrived at a place that really, really protects privacy. During the San Bernardino case, we were asked to open a phone that was found in [the suspect’s] car, and it was a really hard discussion. We would have opened that phone if we could have opened it and not impacted every other phone, but we couldn’t, and so we decided that we wanted to protect all of our customers and resist the government’s ask to build an operating system that would ‘ve basically made every other phone vulnerable.

The executive also pushed back against those who have said that privacy doesn’t matter, pointing to the recent ransomware attack on a pipeline on the East Coast of the United States.

A lot of people will say, “Privacy doesn’t matter to me at all; I don’t care, everybody can take my data,” but then you pick up the newspaper, and if you live on the East Coast, there was a period where you couldn’t fill up your car because the pipeline was taken hostage by ransomware. That is about data and that is about security, and ultimately, if you don’t have security, you don’t have privacy. So every day you hear or read about different incursions…advertising is big right now, and I think people would be quite surprised by the amount of data that exists out there in the B2B world about them. That’s something that we’re very much trying to bring to the attention of our customers, not because we want them to make a choice one way or the other, but because we actually want them to be aware of it.

You can check out the rest of the wide-ranging interview on Elle.

Horvath’s interview occured on the same day that Apple released a new privacy ad focused on how you can use your iPhone to block data brokers.

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