Apple tells Congress that the customer is not its product

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"We hope that the responses below are helpful in understanding these topics and make clear Apple's position that customers are entitled to transparency, choice, and control over their personal information", the letter concludes, while offering to brief lawmakers about the subject. In a letter dated Tuesday, Timothy Powderly, Apple's director of federal government affairs, writes to Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, in response to questions Walden had posed to CEO Tim Cook in a July 9 letter.

"We believe privacy is a fundamental human right and purposely design our products and services to minimize our collection of customer data", the August 7 letter from Powderly says.

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Apple has responded to the questions [PDF] by assuring authorities that they believe in that privacy is a fundamental human right, and all their products are created to minimize the collection of data from customers.

Facebook in 2016 asked the analytics firm to delete the data collected from 50 million profiles, but Facebook never verified the company's response. We utilize on-device processing minimize data collection by Apple.

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The letter, as Cook has done many times before, aims to distance Apple's business model from other large tech companies accused of mass data collection, adding that "the customer is not our product" - which is what Cook said when he discussed the necessity of regulation after Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Citing media reports, the lawmakers raised concerns that smartphones could "in some instances" collect data from nearby conversations, even if the user did not intentionally wake the voice assistants with "Hey Siri" or "OK, Google". The information will be encrypted and isn't used for targeting advertising. Additionally, Apple said Siri does not share spoken words, and that third-party apps need to get explicit approval from users for microphone access. The letter to Cook reportedly raised fewer issues, but still queried if iPhones collect and transmit "extensive location data". In a letter to Representative Greg Walden, an Oregon Republican, the Cupertino-company explicitly stated that iPhones do not record audio while listening for the "Hey Siri" wakeup command. The list includes contacts, photos, Bluetooth sharing, health, speech recognition and more. Google did not respond to a request for comment.

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