It’s possible to be selfless and a little selfish at the same time.
That’s the needle Apple CEO Tim Cook is seemingly trying to thread, anyway. In a letter to congress that you can read in full courtesy of 9to5Mac, Cook advocated for the passage of a federal data privacy law that would offer privacy protections to all U.S. citizens. Americans are currently at the whim of whatever (if any) privacy laws exist in their states, like the California Consumer Privacy Act.
Cook emphasized Apple’s existing commitment to privacy protections in his letter.
“At Apple, we believe privacy is a fundamental human right. It is why we have consistently advocated for comprehensive privacy legislation and contributed to the process whenever possible. It is also why we’ve always built products and features that protect users and their information by default. We do this by minimizing the data we collect, processing as much data as possible on a user’s device, giving users transparency as to what data is collected and control as to how it is used, and building robust systems to protect user data across all our products and services.”
It should be noted that Cook isn’t just asking for Congress to pass legislation out of thin air. A bipartisan draft bill called the American Data Privacy and Protection Act already exists, though it hasn’t been finalized or voted on by anyone yet. Among other things, the bill would restrict tech companies from collecting data beyond what’s strictly necessary and allow users to turn off targeted advertising.
“We recognize that there are outstanding issues to be resolved, but the areas of agreement appear to far outweigh the differences,” Cook said elsewhere in his letter. “Your drafts would provide substantial protections for consumers, and we write to offer our strong support towards achieving this shared goal.”
While the kinds of protections Apple is promoting would indeed be for the common good, it’d be naive to pretend like the company is doing this purely out of altruism. Apple has stronger privacy controls than much of the competition, including an overwhelmingly popular iPhone feature that lets users block apps from tracking their activity. Apple is arguably more ready to accommodate sweeping regulations than its competitors are, and adopting stricter privacy controls actually netted Apple more cash last year on top of that.