Government February 1

AAPL: 96.43

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BlackBerry phones were once the default choice for enterprise, the combination of physical keyboard and secure messaging facility the two key selling-points. Those days are long gone.

The company dismissed the iPhone when it was launched in 2007, claiming that touchscreen phones could never compete with physical keyboards – before doing a U-turn by launching its own touchscreen phone less than a year later. A series of major service outages and a failure to deliver the promised BlackBerry 10 in 2011 sealed the company’s fate as a major player, and it today appears set to completely cede the secure messaging space to Apple.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen effectively admitted in December that the company had a ‘backdoor’ into its supposedly secure messaging system, and the company has now stated that it will this year make only Android phones – a platform not noted for its security credentials. This shortly after Microsoft’s Windows Phone looked even more irrelevant, the company reporting that revenues had halved year-on-year …

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Government January 19

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Over the weekend, Apple posted its latest EEO-1 statement: the Equal Employment Opportunity form follows government regulations to note diversity of Apple’s employee base (via AppleInsider). The newly-released 2015 statement shows that 30 percent of Apple’s employees in the United States are female, a rise of 1% over the numbers posted in the 2014 statement. Black and Hispanic employees make up 8.6 percent and 11.7 percent of the workforce, respectively.

At an executive level, Apple continues to be heavily stacked towards white men. The report says that Apple’s senior officials, executives and managers are 83 percent are male, and 83 percent are white.

That being said, it’s worth noting that Apple refutes the EEO-1 process. It says that the federally-enforced survey is outdated and does not reflect reality. The company’s own numbers paint itself in a much better light, claiming >50% growth in employment of black, Hispanic and female hires.

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Government November 17, 2015

AAPL: 113.69

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Nobody who watched the news coverage of the terrorist attacks in Paris could fail to be moved by the scenes and the stories emerging from it. It was undeniably a horrific series of events, and it’s only human nature to want action to be taken to reduce the likelihood of future such atrocities.

But there is always a danger at such times that emotion, rather than rational thought, will drive government policy-making. I won’t get into the broader theme there, as there are more appropriate forums for that, but there is one aspect that is very much on-topic for us: the battle between Apple and governments over encryption.

There have already been unattributed reports that the terrorists in Paris used encrypted communication. I have no idea whether there is any specific evidence for that, but it would hardly be damning were such evidence to emerge: it would be frankly astonishing if they hadn’t.

There are three reasons why Apple is right to maintain that it will continue to offer end-to-end encrypted communication no matter how much governments in the USA, UK and elsewhere may protest …  expand full story

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Government November 3, 2015

AAPL: 122.57

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With Apple Pay, Google Wallet and other services transforming the way people carry out transactions, Apple has joined forces with four other companies to ensure that lawmakers don’t end up ‘inadvertently’ stifling innovation in the financial services field.

Technology industry leaders Amazon, Apple, Google, Intuit and PayPal today announced the formation of Financial Innovation Now, a coalition that will promote policies to help foster greater innovation in financial services.

While the new organization uses relatively diplomatic language, it’s pretty clear that the aim is to ensure that politicians don’t screw things up by introducing poorly thought-out legislation, like the infamous example proposed by Democratic Rep. Joshua Peters …  expand full story

Government October 24, 2015

AAPL: 119.08

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Earlier this week, Apple stated that it would be nearly impossible for it to access the data on a passcode-locked iOS device running iOS 8 or later. The company also noted, however, that even if it were possible, it would not feel comfortable doing so as to not tarnish the trust it shares with its customers. The Department of Justice has now dismissed that argument, saying that Apple should be required to unlock encrypted data because iOS is “licensed, not sold” to customers (via DailyDot).

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Government March 30, 2015

While health tech has to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the agency will be taking “an almost hands-off approach” to fitness-oriented wearables like the Apple Watch, says policy advisor Bakul Patel in an interview in Bloomberg.

“We are taking a very light touch, an almost hands-off approach,” Patel, the FDA’s associate director for digital health, said in an interview. “If you have technology that’s going to motivate a person to stay healthy, that’s not something we want to be engaged in.”

Patel said the FDA would be drawing a distinction between products whose health claims focused on fitness rather than diagnosis …  expand full story

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