Apple Privacy Head Steps Down – Report

Apple’s chief privacy officer, Jane Horvath, is to leave the tech giant after 11 years in her role, and will instead join a law firm

Apple is losing another senior official, after it was reported that one of its few chief officers, is set to leave company.

According to Bloomberg, Apple chief privacy officer Jane Horvath is stepping down from her high profile role at the iPhone maker, and is joining a law firm in Los Angeles.

Horvath is a lawyer and joined Apple back in 2011, having previously worked in key privacy roles Alphabet’s Google, and the US Department of Justice.

Privacy head

Horvath joined the iPhone maker at a time when the firm was mired in controversy following the publication of research by two computing experts (one of whom was a former Apple employee) in 2011.

That research discovered that Apple’s devices were tracking user locations approximately 100 times a day, by default.

At the time, Steve Jobs publicly denied that his company had ever tracked customer movements.

The findings resulted in a PR disaster for the iPhone manufacturer and led to several lawsuits being filed against Apple.

And during her 11 years overseeing Apple’s increasing focus on tightening its privacy credentials, Horvath has had to contend with other high profile data privacy cases.

This included Apple’s famous clash with the US Justice Department and the FBI over its refusal to help federal agents unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino terrorists, Syed Rizwan Farook.

Apple refused, with CEO Tim Cook saying the implications of the demand were “chilling”.

Cook also said that the FBI’s request at the time to create a new operating system, was the “software equivalent to cancer” – a privacy stance that was backed by tech rivals at the time.

This led to a prolonged clash with the FBI and US government, and in the end FBI paid an undisclosed group more than $1 million (£750,000) to help it access the phone.

On Horvath’s watch, Apple also made a major change to the online advertising market in 2021 when with the iOS 14.5 update, Apple required app developers to ask user permission to track their activity online.

Jane Horvath is now taking a job at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, the Bloomberg report stated.

Apple departures

Apple has been hit by a number of departures of senior leaders in the past year.

Last September Doug Field, who was vice president of special projects at Apple and in charge of Project Titan, departed Apple.

Then in December Dr Michael Schwekutsch left Apple to join electric air taxi startup Archer as senior vice president of engineering.

Dr Schwekutsch held more than 100 patents related to vehicle design, and had previously worked on prototypes for the Tesla Plaid systems.

In January Jeff Wilcox, Apple’s director of Mac system architecture who oversaw much of the Apple Silicon transition, left Apple to rejoin Intel.

Then in May Apple lost the services of its director of machine learning, Ian Goodfellow, after he disagreed with its strict return-to-office work policy.

Apple continues to experience pushback from staff over Tim Cook’s order that corporate staff must return to the office three days a week, from Monday 5th September 2022.