Ex-Facebook exec slams Apple CEO's 'hypocrisy' over privacy

Former Facebook Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos has come out and lambasted Apple CEO Tim Cook for his stance on privacy, especially as it relates to limiting access to apps in China.

"We don't want the media to create an incentive structure that ignores treating Chinese citizens as less-deserving of privacy protections because a CEO is willing to bad-mouth the business model of their primary competitor, who uses advertising to subsidize cheaper devices," Stamos wrote in one tweet, followed by several others.

He continued: "Apple needs to come clean on how iCloud works in China and stop setting damaging precedents for how willing American companies will be to service the internal security desires of the Chinese Communist Party."


You can see the entire thread below:

Stamos wrote that he did agree with "almost everything" Cook said regarding privacy regulations and the need for more openness. However, he added that China "is an ethical blind spot for many in tech," writing that "[w]e ignore the working conditions under which our beautiful devices are made, the censorship and surveillance necessary to ship apps there, the environmental externalities of coal-powered Chinese Bitcoin farms."

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News for this story.

Speaking at a conference in Brussels on Wednesday, Cook was highly critical of his Silicon Valley competitors, appearing to aim digs at Facebook and Google (which he did not name), and called for new privacy laws in the U.S., similar to those enacted by the E.U. earlier this year.

"Our own information, from the every day to the deeply personal, is being weaponized against us with military efficiency," he said, at the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC). "Scraps of personal data are collected for digital profiles that let businesses know users better than they know themselves and allow companies to offer users increasingly extreme content that hardens their convictions."

"This is surveillance. And these stockpiles of personal data serve only to enrich only the companies that collect them," he added.

China is exceptionally important to Apple's business, accounting for nearly 18 percent of its quarterly revenue. In its most recent quarterly results, revenue earned from Greater China (which includes mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan) was $9.5 billion, up 19 percent year over year. By contrast, Apple generated $24.5 billion in revenue from the Americas and $12.1 billion in sales from Europe.

Apple is set to report fiscal fourth-quarter results on Nov. 1 after the close of trading.

In 2012, a New York Times report was highly critical of Apple and its manufacturing partners in China, including Foxconn, over the working conditions of its employees.


Since then, Apple has worked to strengthen the conditions of the workers in its supply chain, setting up a website on supplier responsibility and issuing an annual progress report.

Despite the improvements, Foxconn has remained under pressure for its working conditions, including hiring underage and illegal workers, riots and worker deaths.

Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia