Apple has reportedly hired a former Facebook employee who blew the whistle on Facebook’s data-sharing policies exposed during the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Sandy Parakilas, a product manager at Facebook in 2011 and 2012, once gave evidence to the Commons about privacy abuses at Facebook and has been outspoken about the reportedly lax approach to data protection he witnessed at the social network during his time there.
When the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke in March 2018, Parakilas told the Guardian it had been “painful watching” the company grapple with the fallout because he knew “they could have prevented it”.
Now, the Financial Times reports, Parakilas has been hired to work as a product manager on the privacy team at Apple. The paper says Parakilas’ job will involve working to ensure that future products minimise data collection and protect privacy.
Parakilas had spent the last year working as the chief strategy officer of the San Francisco-based Center for Humane technology, a not-for-profit organisation set up by former Silicon Valley workers to push for “safer, healthier tech”.
Parakilas told the Guardian at the time that he had warned senior executives thatit risked a major breach. “My concerns were that all of the data that left Facebook servers to developers could not be monitored by Facebook, so we had no idea what developers were doing with the data,” he said.
Parakilas also gave evidence to the UK parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, which in 2018 investigated the abuses at Facebook as part of its inquiry into fake news. He told the inquiry that Facebook had given the impression that it feared it would be liable if it investigated a suspected breach and found policies or laws had been broken. Instead, he suggested, it did not investigate because it felt that if it did not know of breaches it could claim it was just a platform so not liable.
In competition against rivals such as Facebook and Google, Apple has been pushing its privacy practices as a strength, culminating this week in adverts at the Las Vegas-based Consumer Electronics Show bearing the slogan: “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone.” Unlike Google, Apple is not exhibiting at the show.
Apple declined to comment. Parakilas did not respond to a request for comment from the Financial Times.