Jane Horvath, Apple’s senior director of global privacy, participated in a privacy discussion panel at CES in Las Vegas on Tuesday. Horvath extolled the Cupertino firm’s privacy initiatives and defended the firm’s stance on hardware encryption.
Horvath’s comments come in the wake of a CNBC reports saying the FBI had asked for help in unlocking two iPhones that investigators believe belonged to Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, the man that carried out the mass shooting at a Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida last month.
When questioned about Apple’s reluctance to aid the FBI in unlocking iPhones used in crimes, Horvath defended Apple’s stance on using strong hardware encryption. She explained Apple’s encryption mechanism is designed to keep personal information safe from prying eyes.
Once an Apple device is locked, the data on the device can not be accessed without the entry of a pre-determined passcode/password or is unlocked with the user’s fingerprint or face. While Apple can access data stored on its iCloud storage service (when presented with a warrant), the company doesn’t have a “backdoor” to access the information physically stored on a device.
Apple has long held that the creation of backdoors to access a device’s data is a dangerous move. Horvath repeated that stance on Tuesday.
“Our phones are relatively small and they get lost and stolen,” Horvath said. “If we’re going to be able to rely on our health data and finance data on our devices, we need to make sure that if you misplace that device, you’re not losing your sensitive data.”
Horvath also touted Apple technologies such as differential privacy, user randomization for first-party services like Maps, and minimal data retrieval for Siri.
Also participating in Tuesday’s discussion were Facebook VP of Public Policy and Chief Privacy Offer for Policy Erin Egan, Procter & Gamble Company Global Privacy Officer Susan Shook and Federal Trade Commission Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter. The discussion was moderated by Rajeev Chand, Partner and Head of Research at Wing Venture Capital.
(Photo Source: Parker Ortolani via Twitter)