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  • Apple Reportedly Attended a Confidential Spy Summit to Discuss Data Privacy

    Apple was one of the many tech companies who recently attended a secretive three-day conference where heads of intelligence agencies from around the world met with private sector tech companies, security experts and journalists. The conference mainly discussed the ramifications of data privacy on state protection. Chaired by former British M16 Sir John Scarlett as part of an ongoing series of conferences put on by the Ditchley Foundation, the conference discussed “complex issues of international concern.” The confidential meetings are held at the foundation’s mansion in Oxfordshire. Apple’s director of global privacy, Jane Horvath and security and privacy manager, Erik Neuenschwander represented the company’s interests at the conference.

    As many of you probably already know, data privacy has been a hot button topic ever since NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, leaked classified information regarding various secret government surveillance programs that collect data on a large scale. The collection techniques that gather data, with everything from phone calls to posts on social media networks, all without the user’s knowledge or proof of wrongdoing, is what came into question. Various law enforcement agencies are arguing that a certain level of access to private data is needed to adequately conduct criminal investigations. More specifically, justice officials are sometimes requesting personal data logs from telephone companies, cloud service providers (including Apple) and other entities that play a role in lawful procedure allowed through court-ordered warrants.

    On the flipside, tech companies began to provide consumers with communications products that touted advanced encryption features as a result of the Snowden leaks at the same time. Among these tech companies was Apple which offered consumers high-security encryption in iOS 8, claiming at the time that the system was so secure, the user data would be inaccessible even with the appropriate documentation. Although the Cupertino California company’s efforts weren’t designed specifically to prevent government sanction trooping, this was a byproduct of their efforts. CEO Tim Cook has even been an outspoken advocate of consumer data privacy with a hardline stance against data sharing. He said the following during an interview in February:

    None of us should accept that the government or a company or anybody should have access to all of our private information. This is a basic human right. We all have a right to privacy. We shouldn't give it up. We shouldn't give in to scare-mongering or to people who fundamentally don't understand the details.
    The law enforcement agencies are finding Apple’s technology and other similar efforts from other tech companies, counterproductive and even detrimental to time-critical criminal investigations. Some officials in the US are pushing for the policy to mandated software backdoors for the purpose of helping fight crime but private companies that have an interest in keeping paying customers happy are showing resistance. The most recent news in the space has been a letter that Apple and other tech companies signed asking President Barack Obama to disregard such measures arguing that strong information is necessary to secure the “modern information economy.”

    We’ll have to see what ends up happening but one thing is certain: there needs to be a balance between public privacy and lawful data access to keep both parties happy.

    Source: The Intercept (Document Cloud)
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Apple Reportedly Attended a Confidential Spy Summit to Discuss Data Privacy started by Akshay Masand View original post