Apple CEO Tim Cook took to the podium at the annual conference of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) on Tuesday until talking about Privacy, security, ad tracking, and sideloading.
Describing privacy as “one of the most important battles of our time”, it has criticized companies that monetize large user data collection, comparing it to real-world stalkers.
By contrast, he claimed that Apple maintains its “commitment to protecting people from an industrial pool of data built on a foundation of surveillance.” To a standing ovation from the privacy audience, he voiced support for US privacy rules similar to those passed in Europe in recent years.
On the other hand, he said he and Apple are “very concerned about regulations that would undermine privacy and security in the service of another goal,” such as protecting competition.
Although he didn’t name it specifically, he was likely referring to the European Union’s Digital Markets Act and the US Open Application Markets Act, which includes language about forcing platform owners like Apple to allow sideloading.
The current iteration of the Digital Markets Code no longer includes sideloading requirements, but it has not yet been finalized. The Open Application Markets Act still requires sideloading; It was recently approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but it has not yet been introduced in Congress.
About new regulations like these, Cook said:
This means that data-hungry companies will be able to sidestep our privacy rules, and once again track our users against their will. It would also likely give bad actors a way around the blanket security protections we put in place, putting them in direct contact with our users, and we’ve already seen the vulnerability arise on other companies’ devices.
He cited one notable example to support this point: Android users who downloaded seemingly legitimate COVID-19 tracking apps and subsequently found their phones infected with ransomware.
“If we had to leave unchecked apps on the iPhone, the unintended consequences would be profound,” Cook said. “And when we see that, we feel obligated to speak up — and to demand that policymakers work with us to achieve the goals that I truly believe we share, without undermining privacy in the process.”
A key part of his argument is that sideloading can become so common that important apps will only be installable this way, not through the App Store, which Cook claims is more secure. Cook argues that if that happens, the idea of giving users a choice goes away because they may feel pressured to sideload apps, thus exposing them to malicious actors.
Cook also tried to reassure listeners that “Apple believes in competition.” However, it offered no alternative solutions for those concerned that Apple’s control of the App Store allows it to charge exorbitant fees to app developers or subject developers to capricious or unfair rules.
Cook’s speech was not the first time an Apple executive had taken the podium at a major conference to demonstrate that the new regulation aimed to ensure continued competition could undermine user security and privacy. ft. Craig Federigi A similar letter At Web Summit 2021.