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Apple Inc responds to US congress on data privacy

After the latest debacle in Facebook regarding data privacy, due to the wake of Cambridge Analytica affair, which has lead to a huge drop in Facebook’s share value, also may get Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, fired from his post. The US Congress questioned Apple Inc, on their smartphone personal data policies. In response to this query by the US Congress, Timothy Powderly, Apple’s director of federal government affairs, wrote to Rep. Greg Walden(R-OR), chairman of the house committee on Energy and Commerce.

In that letter, Apple reiterated that it collects as little data as possible as a practice, where Powderly stated that Apple believed privacy is a fundamental right of every citizen, that their products service to minimize the collection of customer’s data. The letter also painted that Apple’s business model is different from that of the other silicon valley companies, that sell consumer information to advertisers, so that the advertisers can market their products to a set of targetted audience. Apple also responded that they send limited information about Wi-Fi hotspots and cellular towers in an encrypted format, provided location services are turned ON. The letter also answered to questions on, How Apple’s location services work, as well as their data collection policies and whether the Siri feature can have some privacy repercussions.

Powderly already had written a similar letter to  Sen Charles Grassley, chairman of Senate judicial committee, Grassley’s committee had held hearings on “Facebook social media privacy, and the use and abuse of data”. Those hearings were held during the height of Cambridge Analytica scandal, included the testimony of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The requests follow in the wake of Cambridge Analytica affair, where Facebook accused Cambridge Analytica of violating policies, by creating 71 million US voter profiles based on the user data they harvested, without the consent of the users in 2015. While researchers argue that they did not do anything wrong and were not the only party to collect data that way.

In June, Facebook claimed that it had data sharing partnerships with a number of firms including Apple Inc, which were granting third-party access to user data before social networking apps were made available for mobile devices. In response to this claim, Cook responded by telling that Apple never requested or received personal user data from Facebook.