Apple is rightfully thought of as the king of privacy in the group of tech giants with its strong media campaigns and marketing tactics, it’s a company that rarely faces privacy scrutiny compared to others.
Last week Apple and Google teamed up for COVID-19 and new “contact tracing” API’s within iOS and Android aimed to help find people who have been in contact with positive cases. Today, the Financial Times reports that the Europen Union’s digital agency will review these new API’s for potential privacy loopholes before they will allow Apple and Google to implement the system in the region.
The voice of this reason comes from Thierry Breton, the EU’s single market commissioner, who says,
“Contact tracing apps can be useful to limit the spread of the coronavirus, but their development and interoperability need to fully respect our values and privacy.”
The report notes that Breton has spoken Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and is expected to speak with Apple CEO Tim Cook. The EU claims this is apart of new measures in its wider campaign to implement new digital strategies into its framework. Whether or not this framework is new, the EU should be the last to talk about privacy.
While Apple and Google attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19, and at the same time while both companies have provided evidence that no user privacy is broken, the EU acts the lord and savior to “protect” users. The EU has stayed silent on multiple occasions when user privacy was clearly broken. They provided a shameful response to Facebook’s 2016 scandal and more recently has yet to provide an adequate response to Zoom.
Apple and Google have given extensive details on the privacy measures in their new “contact tracing” feature, it has stated and has been confirmed by 9to5Mac that there is no user footprint in the data the companies collect. The real reason may be behind Apple’s continued fight with the EU on a $14 billion tax order, which Apple says “defies reality and common sense.” Or, it may be due to Apple’s extensive operations in Ireland, which has had its fair fighting with the EU.
One thing is clear, this fight that EU is putting up with Apple and Google is only doing one thing, it’s delaying a feature that could potentially save lives, the longer it takes to get implemented, we’ll know who to blame.