- Former Facebook security boss Alex Stamos criticised Tim Cook’s hypocrisy after the Apple CEO launched a blistering attack on firms that flout user privacy.
- Stamos pointed to Apple’s trade practices in China, which block privacy-enabling features like end-to-end encryption and installing VPNs.
- He said for many tech companies, China is an “ethical blindspot.”
Tim Cook launched a blistering attack on tech companies that flout user privacy in a speech on Wednesday, but a former Facebook exec has accused him of not practising what he preaches.
Although Cook did not name Facebook or Google, they were a clear target of his remarks in Brussels, where he said that people’s data is “being weaponised against us with military efficiency” to “enrich” companies that collect the information.
But Alex Stamos, Facebook’s former security chief who led its internal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, said Apple is not above compromising user privacy in China.
In a series of tweets, he said Apple blocks privacy-enabling services like end-to-end encrypted messaging apps and installing VPNs on its devices in China. Stamos also pointed out that Apple recently moved its iCloud data to a state-owned telecom company.
Cook has previously said in an interview that Apple’s data stored in China is still safely under lock and key. “We worked with a Chinese company to provide iCloud, but the keys […] are ours,” he told Vice earlier this month.
Stamos said China is an “ethical blindspot” for many tech companies. He said firms take advantage of weaker workers’ rights to manufacture their products, comply with China’s surveillance laws, and ignore the environmental damage of Chinese Bitcoin farms.
Stamos and Cook did agree on one thing: That the US needs a robust privacy law and companies like Facebook and Twitter need to minimise how much data they collect.
Stamos also criticised the media for allowing Cook to effectively take a shot across Facebook’s bows by ignoring the diminished right to privacy of Chinese citizens.
Business Insider has contacted Apple for comment.
Tech’s trouble with China has been in the spotlight recently because of Google’s attempts to re-enter the market. Google has drawn fire both externally and internally for its reported plans to launch a censored search engine to comply with Chinese laws.
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