Steve Jobs has cast Apple as the most pristine of tech giants, but his sanctimony sometimes backfires. Here, the CEO says Apple guards each use of private customer data—days before Apple partner AT&T exposed iPad customers' private information.

Jobs' extended privacy lecture, delivered on stage with journalists Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher at the All Things D conference earlier this month, looks ironic in the wake of the exposure of more than 114,000 iPad user email addresses and private network IDs by partner AT&T.

The iPad breach flew in the face of Jobs' statement that Apple's policy is to seek—and force partners to seek—user permission "every time. Let them know precisely what you're going to do with their data," and let "people know what they're signing up for in plain English, repeatedly." To be clear, Jobs wasn't just talking about how Apple Inc. uses private iPad customer information, but specifically referring to how the company policies the use of private data by other iPad experience providers, including app creators.

The security lapse also makes Jobs look too cocky by half when he says that Apple won't get caught up in the privacy snafus that snared other tech companies as they get deeper into internet information services, like Google, whom Jobs took a shot at for a recent mobile-data privacy gaffe. A quote:

Jobs: We've always had a very different view of privacy than some of our colleagues in the [Silicon] Valley. We take privacy extremely seriously.... A lot of people in the Valley think we're really old-fashioned about this...

Mossberg: But aren't you also going to be moving more into cloud-based things? Doesn't that inevitably introd—

Jobs: No! Privacy means people know what they're signing up for, in plain English and repeatedly.... let them know precisely what you're going to do with their data. That's what we think.

An excerpt clip of Jobs' comments is above; you can see the full video, including Jobs using controls on iPhone and iPad apps as an example of Apple's privacy policy, on All Things D, starting at about 1:09:30.


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