Apple

Josh Hawley: Google, Apple CEOs Must Be Personally Liable for User Privacy

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) has called on the CEOs of Google and Apple to accept personal legal liability for protecting user privacy as they move to implement “contact tracing” technology in smartphones to track the spread of the Chinese virus. As Breitbart News reported earlier this month, Google and Apple are teaming up to track carriers of the Chinese coronavirus and other individuals, a process known as “contact tracing,” using smartphone location data. The companies promise a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by building this functionality into the underlying platforms,” meaning the technology will be embedded in Android and iOS smartphones. Now Sen. Hawley is calling on the companies to address privacy concerns by making their CEOs personally liable for any improper use of user data. “If you seek to assure the public, make your stake in this project personal,” wrote Hawley in a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai “Make a commitment that you and other executives will be personally liable if you stop protecting privacy, such as by granting advertising companies access to the interface once the pandemic is over. The public statements you make now can be enforced under federal and state consumer protection laws. Do not hide behind a corporate shield like so many privacy offenders have before. Stake your personal finances on the security of this project.” This comes after Google’s recent announcement that, allegedly due to pandemic-related disruption, it would delay the rollout of key features in its plan to eliminate third-party tracking technology (known as “cookies”) in its Chrome internet browser. The effort is part of a wider push by Google to reassure consumers about its commitment to their privacy. But as Breitbart News reported last month, eliminating third-party cookies does not mean Chrome browsers won’t be collecting user data. It just means that Google will have an even tighter monopoly over that data, supplementing the vast amounts of data it collects on its users’ behavior via services like Google Search, Maps, YouTube, Gmail, Google Docs, and hardware like Android phones, tablets, and Chromebooks. The company also does not have a sterling reputation for responsibly accessing healthcare data. In 2019, the company gained access to the personal health data of 50 million Americans through an initiative the company branded “Project Nightingale.” According to reports at the time, doctors and patients were unaware of Google’s data-harvesting operation.

Major kudos to Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), who is also the former Attorney General for the State of Missouri, for putting these CEOs on notice.  This whole so-called “contact tracing” just stinks of big brother and allowing the government the ability to track your whereabouts without any restrictions.

Apple to ship 1 million face masks a week for health care workers

Apple is going to design and produce millions of face shields for health care workers as part of its effort to help the workers battling coronavirus in the United States. “We’ve launched a company-wide effort bringing together product designers, engineering, operations, and packing teams and our suppliers, to design, produce, and ship face shields for health workers,” CEO Tim Cook explained in a video posted to Twitter. Previously, the tech giant announced that it had secured 10 million masks for medical workers. Apple debuted a new COVID-19 website and app not long after that. Cook also said that one shipment has been delivered to Kaiser hospital facilities in California’s Santa Clara valley and that the company expects to make one million face masks by the end of the week and just as many each following week. Initially, this effort will be for U.S. health care workers, but Apple hopes to expand it enough to aid workers in other countries impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. The tech executive ended his video statement by encouraging people to follow local guidelines to shelter in place and maintain social distancing to slow the spread of the virus.

Major kudos to Apple for all they’re doing to help fight this scourge.  Outstanding job Apple!    🙂

Apple announces new coronavirus app and website

Apple on Friday announced a new COVID-19 app and website to help people stay informed and stay healthy amid the coronavirus pandemic. The app and website allow users to answer a series of questions around risk factors, recent exposure and symptoms for themselves or a loved one, and then receive guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about possible next steps. In a statement released by Apple, the company emphasized that the screening tool is designed to be a resource but that it does not replace instructions from health care providers or guidance government officials. The new app and website offer resources to provide useful support and information to people about the coronavirus pandemic, including answers to common questions about risk factors and symptoms, as well as CDC guidance on washing hands and cleaning surfaces. The COVID-19 app and website do not require a sign-in or association with a user’s Apple ID, and the tech giant says that individual responses will not be sent to Apple or any government organization.

The President mentioned this in his daily briefing yesterday.  Again, this doesn’t replace instructions or guidance from doctors, etc.   It’s simply a resource.  Kudos to Apple for putting this together, and for the millions and millions of masks they’re donating to the cause.  They’re another American company stepping up during this tough time.  For more on this app, click on text above.

Apple secures 10 million masks for US health care workers

Apple has secured 10 million masks for U.S. health care workers and is donating millions more to countries globally as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread and strain manufacturing chains for the medical supplies. Tim Cook, the tech giant’s CEO, announced the news in a video tweeted out Wednesday afternoon. The video was filmed from Cook’s home. “Apple has sourced, procured and is donating 10 million masks to the medical community in the United States,” Cook said. Cook also encouraged everyone to follow instructions from public health officials by staying home if possible and keeping at least six feet between themselves and anyone else if they must leave the house. Other tech firms, including Facebook, have stepped up to say they will donate the much-needed masks or provide assistance in manufacturing respirators. All of these items are in short supply, and in many cases countries and states are competing against one another to get their own.

Excellent!  Thanks to Tim Cook, and the folks at Apple, for stepping up in a big way.    🙂

Apple patents system to stop people from looking at your iPhone

Ever have a feeling that someone — next to you on the train or behind you in line at the grocery store — is snooping on your smartphone screen? Well, as it turns out, Apple is researching a potential solution to this digital privacy intrusion. A recently discovered patent application that was reported by Tech Xplore reveals the tech giant is looking into a technology to distinguish between user and unwanted onlookers and blur screen content not intended for unauthorized eyes. The feature, called “gaze-dependent display encryption,” would utilize face recognition to determine the owner of the smartphone and eye-tracking to figure out what segment of the screen the authorized viewer is scanning at the moment. If unknown faces appear, either directly in front of the device or in the background, gaze encryption would be activated. According to the patent, if an authorized viewer is reading a screen and a person appears in the background snooping, eye-tracking will leave currently viewed spots untouched while it renders the remainder of the screen indecipherable to onlookers. The obscured segments will resemble the text or image displayed, but scramble it. These manipulations will apparently include text scrambling, color altering and image warping.

Another example of security/privacy vs big brother.  We’ll keep an eye on this developing story…pun intended.       🙂

Apple Closes All Retail Stores – Except in China

Tech giant Apple has reportedly closed all of its stores outside of China just days after announcing the reopening of its Chinese retail stores. In a post to the Apple Newsroom tech giant Apple announced that it would be closing all stores outside of China shortly after reopening all of its stores in the country. In a post to the Newsroom, Apple stated: ” First, I want to recognize Apple’s family in Greater China. Though the rate of infections has dramatically declined, we know COVID-19’s effects are still being strongly felt. I want to express my deep gratitude to our team in China for their determination and spirit. As of today, all of our stores in Greater China have reopened. I also want to thank our operations team and partners for their remarkable efforts to restore our supply chain. What we’ve learned together has helped us all develop the best practices that are assisting enormously in our global response. One of those lessons is that the most effective way to minimize risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance. As rates of new infections continue to grow in other places, we’re taking additional steps to protect our team members and customers. We will be closing all of our retail stores outside of Greater China until March 27. We are committed to providing exceptional service to our customers. Our online stores are open at www.apple.com, or you can download the Apple Store app on the App Store. For service and support, customers can visit support.apple.com. I want to thank our extraordinary Retail teams for their dedication to enriching our customers’ lives. We are all so grateful to you.” Some have criticized the move by Apple such as Hayman Chief Investment Officers Kyle Bass who stated that Apple CEO Tim Cook has “sold his soul to the evil of the Chinese communist party.” On Friday, Breitbart News reported that Apple had reopened its stores in China after shutting them down last month following the outbreak of Wuhan coronavirus. The company has since been gradually reopening them and the final stores resumed normal business on Friday. The closure of the stores factored into Apple’s announcement last month that the coronavirus would have an impact on its quarterly revenue. Apple CEO Tim Cook stated at the time that he was confident that China was getting the outbreak under control. A number of tech firms are being affected, Breitbart News recently reported that e-commerce platform Shopify recently instructed its 5,000 employees across 11 different countries to work from home, following in the footsteps of Facebook, Google, Twitter, and multiple other tech firms that have sent employees home as the Wuhan coronavirus spreads. A source familiar with Shopify told Business Insider that the firm is providing employees with a stipend to pay for any office equipment they may need to work remotely.

Apple CEO Tim Cook and President Trump toured a Texas computer factory to tout US manufacturing

President Donald Trump and Apple CEO Tim Cook toured a Texas manufacturing facility on Wednesday, getting a glimpse of a factory used by Apple to assemble the Mac Pro desktop. The tour was a public symbol of Trump’s close relationship with Cook, and also provided an opportunity for the president to showcase a leading American company that’s manufacturing in the U.S. as Trump struggles to put into place the first piece of a U.S.-China trade agreement. “I would always talk about Apple, that I want to see Apple building plants in the United States, and that’s what’s happening,” Trump said in a brief conversation with reporters after the tour. “And Tim Cook is someone I greatly respect.” The relationship between the two men has been cultivated over the past few years through dinners, meetings and Cook’s membership on key presidential advisory councils. Cook and Trump were joined by White House advisor Ivanka Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, while in Washington, D.C., the House Intelligence Committee continued its impeachment hearings. Trump touched on the hearings in the briefing with the media. The plant toured on Wednesday, operated by Flex, assembles the Mac Pro, a high-end computer that starts at $6,000. A previous model of the computer was made in the same facility starting in 2013. Apple doesn’t own or operate its own manufacturing and instead contracts with companies like Flex. A Flex spokesperson declined to comment. During the tour, Trump posed with an engraved metal plate reading, “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in USA,” a reference to the Apple slogan that used to be printed on iPhones. For Apple, the relationship with Trump enables the iPhone maker to communicate at the highest level its position on several trade-related issues, including tariffs. As part of Trump’s trade war with China, a 15% import tax will start to affect iPhones in December. “The nice part here is you don’t have to worry about tariffs,” Trump said on Wednesday. “When you build in the United States you don’t have to worry about tariffs,” Trump said. He repeated that he’s “looking at” whether to exempt Apple from tariffs on Chinese imports. Apple doesn’t break down its Mac sales by product line, but it’s among the company’s lowest-volume computers and the only one to be assembled in the U.S. Apple shipped 218 million iPhones in 2018, with the vast majority assembled in China. The Mac Pro is “an example of American design, American manufacturing, and American ingenuity,” Cook said. In June, Apple announced a new Mac Pro design. The company didn’t specify where it would be manufactured, but the Wall Street Journal reported that it would be assembled in China. Earlier this year, Apple applied for tariff exclusions for 15 parts needed to assemble the computer. When 10 out of the 15 exclusions were granted in September, Apple said it planned to manufacture the Mac Pro in the same facility in Texas that was used for the previous model. The Mac Pro computer will go on sale in December. “We thank the administration for their support enabling this opportunity,” Cook said in a statement at the time. Apple also announced on Wednesday that it will begin construction on a planned Austin campus that could have the capacity for as many as 15,000 employees.