Business Insider Edition

Apple made a rare appearance at tech's biggest conference and defended encryption on the iPhone

Charlie Wood , Business Insider US
 Jan 09, 2020, 11:43 AM
Jane Horvath has served as Apple's senior director of global privacy since 2011.
Jane Horvath has served as Apple's senior director of global privacy since 2011.
  • Apple made a rare public appearance at the world's biggest tech conference, CES, in Las Vegas.
  • The iPhone maker usually shuns public appearances at industry conferences, but put its most senior privacy executive on stage to defend the company's pro-privacy stance.
  • The executive, Jane Horvath, said iPhones' susceptibility to being stolen means they must be encrypted to protect personal information such as financial and health-related data.
  • Apple has fought the FBI in the past over breaking into encrypted iPhones that belong to suspected criminals.
  • Business Insider has approached Apple for comment.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Apple's top privacy executive has defended the firm's use of encryption despite its recent clashes with the FBI on the issue.

According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, iPhone privacy chief Jane Horvath - who was peaking on a panel at this year's CES tech conference in Las Vegas - said that iPhones' susceptibility to being stolen means they must be encrypted to protect personal information such as financial and health data.

"Our phones are relatively small and they get lost and stolen," Horvath said, according to CNBC. "If we're going to be able to rely on our health data and finance data on our devices, we need to make sure that if you misplace that device, you're not losing your sensitive data."

It was a rare move for Apple, which normally shuns public appearances at industry conferences. At the 2019 CES, its only visible presence was a massive billboard extolling its privacy practices.

Horvath added that she doesn't support the creation of backdoors to give law enforcement easier access to encrypted phones.

The FBI has clashed with Apple on multiple occasions over access to locked iPhones.

Horvath's remarks came as Apple was sent a letter by the FBI on Monday asking it to help unlock two iPhones belonging to the man suspected of carrying out last month's shooting in Pensacola, Florida, in which three people were killed.

It isn't clear yet to what extent Apple will help, and in the past the firm has refused to help officials access phones belonging to suspected criminals.

In 2015, Apple refused to help when government officials sought access to an iPhone from a terrorist who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, in 2015. The FBI persisted regardless, and was eventually able to hack into the device with the help of an unknown third party.

In the aftermath of the San Bernardino case, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that creating a so-called "backdoor to the iPhone" was not the answer - words echoed at CES by Horvath, who said that "building back doors into encryption is not the way we are going to solve those issues."

Business Insider has approached Apple for comment.

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