Senator demands Tim Cook be personally accountable for any contact tracing privacy failure...

Posted:
in General Discussion edited April 2020
Missouri Senator Josh Hawley is calling for Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai to be held personally accountable for any potential privacy issues or misuse of Google and Apple's joint contact tracing technology development.

Senator Hawley | Image Credit: Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters
Senator Hawley | Image Credit: Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters


Senator Hawley has sent a letter to the CEOs of both Google and Apple, raising concerns over their cross-platform COVID-19 tracing app. Like many government officials, including President Trump, Hawley is worried about the companies' ability to sufficiently anonymize users' data.

The opening of the letter reads, "Your recently announced project to respond to COVID-19 by tracking when and where Americans interact with each other raises serious concerns. Especially because of Google's poor record on privacy, I fear that your project could pave the way for something much more dire."

He goes on to state that he worries that individual users could be identified by cross-referencing the data collected through the contact tracing app with data the companies already collect.

Hawley's main concern is that Google and Apple may be creating an extremely precise method of surveillance. This program could theoretically be used for nefarious purposes, and ad targeting, after the pandemic subsides.

"Even if this project were to prove helpful for the current crisis, how can Americans be sure that you will not change the interface after the pandemic subsides," the letter reads. "[A]ny privacy protection that is baked into the interface will do little good if the apps that are developed to access the interface also choose to collect other information, like real-time geolocation data."

A majority of his apprehension seem to be placed on Google, who he decries multiple times in the letter. He points out that Google had been harvesting user location data even when the global "Location History" setting was disabled.

He ends the letter by demanding that the CEOs hold themselves personally liable if any privacy issues arise.

"Do not hide behind a corporate shield like so many privacy offenders have before," wrote Hawley. "Stake your personal finances on the security of this project."

The federal government has no similar accountability program. The US government has allowed the theft of personal data of veterans and employees in the past, and no single individual or official was ever held accountable for the theft.

Both Google and Apple have said that privacy is the utmost concern for the the project. They note that the program will remain voluntary, and only public health organizations will be able to create apps built on the platform.

The ACLU, however, has stepped forward to express concerns over the Bluetooth-based contact tracing tool, citing that the move could invade user's privacy-- if it even works at all.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 80
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,717member
    Would be great if Senators and the President would lead the way and also put their personal finances on the line for the decisions that they make.
    woz6791ITGUYINSDtmayMacProdewmestompyhodarjdwrob53Rayz2016
  • Reply 2 of 80
    Are these the same people who hate end to end encryption? 
    woz6791ITGUYINSDtmaydewmestompygilly33cincyteemattinozhodarDAalseth
  • Reply 3 of 80
    EsquireCatsEsquireCats Posts: 1,188member
    Apparently personal responsibility is only important for people who *aren't* US Senators.
    woz6791ITGUYINSDgeorgie01cyberzombieMacProdewmestompygilly33hodarRayz2016
  • Reply 4 of 80
    Maybe the Senator should be personally accountable for handling the Covid response as well?  I have a lot more faith in Apple than a senator from Missouri, the state that is trying to sue China for the Covid virus.  I trust Apple, but I never trust Google for any privacy related issues.

    https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/04/21/840550059/missouri-sues-china-communist-party-over-the-coronavirus-pandemic

    cyberzombieMacProdewmestompyhodarjdwcincyteetpf1952lam92103rob53
  • Reply 5 of 80
    qwerty52qwerty52 Posts: 311member
    Apple should never go in such a project together with Google. It is damaging for Apple’s reputation!
    lkrupptpf1952kestralwoz6791rotateleftbyteagilealtitudecivaBeatsorthorimwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 80
    sowardsoward Posts: 33member
    This is why we can't have nice things.
    dewmeheadfull0wineAppleSince1976cornchip
  • Reply 7 of 80
    The article didn't state which party the Senator belongs to, so I looked it up.  No surprise here.  'Nuf said.
    jdwlordjohnwhorfinjony0EsquireCatsplanetary paulleavingthebiggviclauyycbonobobronnwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 80
    Seems like most of the existing commenters thus far are more concerned about the party affiliation of Sen Hawley than the concerns he raised. 
    MacProhodarcivalkruppviclauyycSynickel
  • Reply 9 of 80
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 353member
    Another ignoramus of a politician who is way out of his lane. Apple is not going to hose its customer considering they are not selling any of the customers data off now. Google might need a talking to in order to make sure they do not get sloppy.
    MacProtpf1952dysamorialordjohnwhorfinbaconstangcornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 80
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,810member
    ITGUYINSD said:
    The article didn't state which party the Senator belongs to, so I looked it up.  No surprise here.  'Nuf said.
    Ohhhh, because hypocrisy and shunning of responsibility only exists on one side of the aisle. What planet are you from?
    woz6791civauraharavukasikalkruppbig kccornchip
  • Reply 11 of 80
    davendaven Posts: 626member
    crowley said:
    Would be great if Senators and the President would lead the way and also put their personal finances on the line for the decisions that they make.
    But they do. Just look at their insider trading activity. 
    hodartpf1952woz6791CloudTalkinlordjohnwhorfinbaconstangjony0retrogustogalfriduswatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 80
    georgie01georgie01 Posts: 392member
    ITGUYINSD said:
    The article didn't state which party the Senator belongs to, so I looked it up.  No surprise here.  'Nuf said.
    Right ... a senator pushing for personal responsibility should be criticised as being a product of a faulty political party. What does that say about the ‘other’ political party? That we are responsible for the decisions we make only when the consequence either doesn’t hurt us or when there is political benefit in placing blame?

    Whether or not Tim Cook should take as much responsibility as this senator is suggesting, it is certain that he is ultimately responsible for the decisions Apple makes. Acting as CEO doesn’t mean it’s no longer him making decisions. 
    hodarciva
  • Reply 13 of 80
    gilly33gilly33 Posts: 374member
    Typical coming out of Washington. I have no confidence in these damn politicians no matter what party they represent. This crisis has further exposed how f**ked up the system is and both parties have been playing with the public’s interest long before this. This is still the greatest country in the world in my opinion but what a joke we are right now. But it’s easier to pretend they care about our privacy. Both parties need to be held accountable for this debacle and whole thing needs an overall. How and when that will ever happen is another story. Just my two cents. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 80
    cincyteecincytee Posts: 343member
    ITGUYINSD said:
    The article didn't state which party the Senator belongs to, so I looked it up.  No surprise here.  'Nuf said.
    The party agitating against stay-at-home orders and physical distancing as part of the president's reelection effort (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/21/us/politics/coronavirus-protests-trump.html) says it's not getting enough help spying on us. Of course this is about coronavirus and not breaking privacy protections.

    woz6791dewmedysamorialordjohnwhorfinvukasikaleavingthebiggjony0ronnpumpkin_kingcornchip
  • Reply 15 of 80
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,638member
    This collaboration won't be needed since several governors are planning on ending the stay at home orders making it nearly impossible to keep people separated long enough for the virus to die off. Having the ability to track people with COVID-19 is only possible if the number of possible people affected is small compared to the general population. Once people start congregating again, one infected person will contaminate several then those will each contaminate several more and the snowball effect will be out of control. As for it being political, of course it is. Republican governors only care about the economy and not the people so they want the serfs people to go back to work so they can continue to line their pockets with kickbacks from the companies. Democrat senators want the same money but at least they're trying to help people by keeping them separate a little longer.
    dysamoriaAlgerbaconstangronn
  • Reply 16 of 80
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,257administrator
    If you can't see your comment, take a minute to re-read the commenting guidelines. There is a link at the bottom of every forum page.
  • Reply 17 of 80
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,165member
    cincytee said:
    ITGUYINSD said:
    The article didn't state which party the Senator belongs to, so I looked it up.  No surprise here.  'Nuf said.
    The party agitating against stay-at-home orders and physical distancing as part of the president's reelection effort (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/21/us/politics/coronavirus-protests-trump.html) says it's not getting enough help spying on us. Of course this is about coronavirus and not breaking privacy protections.

    FWIW the Federal government cannot order any states to "reopen their economies" nor to remain quarantined for that matter. Some states never have issued stay at home orders. That's up to each individual state to decide and here's where each of them stand on the issue. 
    https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/15/us/states-reopen-coronavirus-trnd/index.html

    Personally I think what Apple and Google have designed is just about ideal from a privacy standpoint and have no idea why any US Senator or Congressman would be attempting to undermine it. We should be coming together, not looking for specious reasons to split apart.
    edited April 2020 lordjohnwhorfinmark fearingjony0AppleSince1976bageljoeyjoeljrichards
  • Reply 18 of 80
    XedXed Posts: 1,028member
    gatorguy said:
    cincytee said:
    ITGUYINSD said:
    The article didn't state which party the Senator belongs to, so I looked it up.  No surprise here.  'Nuf said.
    The party agitating against stay-at-home orders and physical distancing as part of the president's reelection effort (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/21/us/politics/coronavirus-protests-trump.html) says it's not getting enough help spying on us. Of course this is about coronavirus and not breaking privacy protections.

    FWIW the Federal government cannot order any states to "reopen their economies" nor to remain quarantined for that matter. That's up to each individual state. Here's where each of them stand on the issue. 
    https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/15/us/states-reopen-coronavirus-trnd/index.html

    Personally I think what Apple and Google have designed is just about ideal from a privacy standpoint and have no idea why any US Senator or Congressman would be attempting to undermine it. We should be coming together, not looking for specious reasons to split apart.
    It's almost always Republicans, too. I wonder how much is ignorance and how much is to deflect from other, bigger issues in the media, like hundreds of thousands of additional cases and tens of thousands of additional deaths because of the poor leadership in the US.
    dysamoriabaconstangjony0ronnMplsP
  • Reply 19 of 80
    XedXed Posts: 1,028member
    rob53 said:
    Republican governors only care about the economy and not the people so they want the serfs people to go back to work so they can continue to line their pockets with kickbacks from the companies. Democrat senators want the same money but at least they're trying to help people by keeping them separate a little longer.
    I wish that were true. They say that (as well as smaller gov't), but they constantly undermine those BS talking points to get more wealthy off taxpayer money. What gets me is the sheer number of people who fall for these snake oil salesman. It's not like these guys are slick or their tactics unique.
    dysamoriabaconstangjony0ronn
  • Reply 20 of 80
    The people who are asking "why did Apple partner with Google on this anyway!" ... are forgetting that less than half of all smartphone users in the US run Android. Another thing ... we have to consider "expertise" here. While Apple is great at taking their time to come out with excellent things on the hardware and UX/UI design front, the ability to rapidly come out with software and services isn't their wheelhouse. Never has been. And that is precisely what software companies like Google and before them Microsoft exploited. The idea that Apple was going to get a complex software/services initiative like this off the ground in weeks as opposed to years ... they don't have the track record. If it wasn't Google - who has a very good knowledge of iOS because they are a leading app developer on that platform as well as its default search provider - it would have had to have been Microsoft, Facebook or some other company that Apple fans would have found just as distasteful. From the perspective of people who agree with this effort - I agree that not everyone does and their concerns are valid - this app is something that was needed on multiple platforms and hardware types yesterday (even in a clunky and imperfect form) and not refined, tuned and perfectly engineered into a single ecosystem stack two years from now. Google's wheelhouse is the former, Apple excels at the latter, and no use pretending otherwise.
    cornchip
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