Against the backdrop of growing losses to cybersecurity breaches and a technology industry frustrated by the federal government's lack of action on surveillance activities, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) CEO Tim Cook proved Friday that he was more than a warm-up act for President Obama.
While other CEOs of major tech companies like Google, Facebook and Yahoo chose to skip the White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection at Stanford University last Friday, Cook spoke forcefully about the right to privacy. He also made a key announcement regarding the company's Apple Pay product and government-related transactions.
"We believe deeply that everyone has a right to privacy and security," Cook said, according to the Washington Post.
"History has shown us that sacrificing our right to privacy can have dire consequences -- we still live in a world where all people are not treated equally. If those of us in positions of responsibility fail to do everything in our power to protect the right to privacy we risk something far more valuable than money – we risk our way of life. Fortunately, technology gives us the tools to avoid these risks." Cook said.
Tired of waiting for congressional or executive action, technology firms expanded their deployment of encryption to secure their customers' communications, the Post said. This created a conflict with some federal law enforcement agencies, who were concerned that such features could make it harder to combat national digital security threats and crime.
At the summit, Cook announced that the U.S. government will start accepting Apple Pay mobile payments in the fall, NBC News reported. Apple Pay uses near field communications to enable payments from mobile devices. Users will be able to make payments and receive funds for federal programs like National Park admission fees and Social Security benefits.
"Apple Pay is significantly more secure than the old days of plastic cards and magnetic stripes," he said, as reported by Chain Store Age. "Security is part of the reason we developed it in the first place."
Apple also plans to make Apple Pay compatible with cards issued to government employees for expenses, as well as to be compatible with Social Security and veterans pensions, Chain Store Age said. "In the future, it would be great to have personal identification like your passport and driver's license digitally stored in a way that is safe, secure and easily accessible by you. We shouldn't have to trade security for convenience of having all this information at our fingertips."
This is a significant announcement for Apple because it signals that Apple Pay will extend beyond the private sphere and into the realm of public service, according to TechCrunch. By doing that, "Apple Pay could become much more than just a replacement for credit cards, and that means 'mobile payments' might actually be insufficient to describe the true scope of Cupertino's plans with this initiative," TechCrunch wrote.
On another front, Starbucks added Apple Pay to its mobile payment app last week, reported PaymentsSource. Starbucks also supports Apple's Touch ID fingerprint security, making it more secure with enhanced privacy.
Apple has filed a patent for Apple Pay 2.0 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, according to Pymnts.com. This will add coupon redemption, loyalty and ticketing functionality to Apple Pay's functions, as well as a low-power enabled NFC feature for payments.
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