Tim Cook on Health Records Privacy: 'People Will Look at This and Feel That They Can Trust Apple'
As evidence, Cook said that Apple has always avoided selling user data, something that Cook and other executives have repeated time and time again.
In an interview with NPR, Cook says acquiring user data to sell ads is something his company has avoided. “People will look at this and feel that they can trust Apple,” he says. “That’s a key part of anyone that you’re working with on your health.”
Apple executives have always pointed out that its customers are not its product, something that distinguishes Apple from other tech companies like Google and Facebook that rely heavily on user data for marketing and monetization purposes. According to Cook, Apple’s privacy commitment is serious and not something that the company says just to earn customer trust.
“It’s not the way we look it in terms of advantages,” he says. “The reality is that I know for me, I want to do business with people that have my health data, people that I deeply trust.”
Cook’s statement is part of a wider look at the Health Records feature added to the iPhone last year, which is designed to allow iPhone users to see actual medical records from hospitals, clinics, and doctors right in the Health app. Apple has partnered with many different institutions for the Health Records feature, bringing easy access to health data to millions of people.
Sam Cavaliere, a tech worker who uses Health Records and was featured in the NPR article, says Apple has earned his trust. “I don’t get fed advertisements for them, so I don’t see them trying to monetize it,” he said, going on to explain that he’s “comfortable” with what Apple’s doing.
UC San Diego Health’s chief information officer, Dr. Chris Longhurst, also said that Apple’s focus on privacy had made hospital officials feel more at ease because patient health privacy is of the utmost importance.
UCSD Health likes the fact that all record data is stored on device only and not uploaded to the cloud, something that helps to protect patients.
NPR pointed out recent news that certain health-related apps like period trackers and heart rate monitoring apps were sharing data with Facebook for targeted advertising, but Apple clarified that those apps don’t, of course, connect to Health Records, which is a highly protected and restricted feature. Health app access in general can only be granted with explicit user permission.
Longhurst says that even though the Health app is well protected by Apple, there are “potential risks” and patients that use the feature should stay informed to make sure they’re not inadvertently sharing health data with third parties.
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