Apple has hired a former Facebook employee, turned Facebook critic, as part of its privacy team, the Financial Times reports. Sandy Parakilas worked at Facebook between 2011 and 2012, leading the company's third-party privacy and policy compliance efforts, and recently, he's spoken out about the social media giant's privacy practices. Last year, when it was revealed that Facebook had shared detailed user data with major mobile device makers, Parakilas told The New York Times that the practice had been noted internally as a privacy issue. "It is shocking that this practice may still continue six years later, and it appears to contradict Facebook's testimony to Congress that all friend permissions were disabled," he said at the time.
Parakilas also weighed in on the Cambridge Analytica scandal, testifying before the UK's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee last March about the circumstances that led up to it. "I think the practices of Facebook in that period, 2010 to 2014, were in my opinion far outside the bounds of what should have been allowed," he told the committee.
Since leaving Facebook, Parakilas has worked at Uber and most recently for the Center for Humane Technology, which advocates for technology that "replenishes society."
Apple and CEO Tim Cook have continued to advocate for user privacy. The company has challenged government demands for greater device access, most notably in regards to the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone, and introduced ad-tracking blocks to Safari, while Cook has called for GDPR-like regulations in the US. Cook has also specifically called out Facebook's data practices. When asked last year what he would have done if he were Mark Zuckerberg after the Cambridge Analytica debacle came to light, Cook said, "I wouldn't be in this situation."
By hiring Parakilas, it appears Apple is looking to bring in new perspectives from across the industry, and it's a move that's likely part of a strategy to stay ahead of its competitors when it comes to user privacy. Apple also recently acquired the privacy-focused AI startup Silk Labs.
While Apple declined to confirm the hire to the Financial Times, it did make a concerted effort to highlight its privacy efforts in recent days. Those attending CES found it hard to miss Apple's cheeky billboard declaring, "What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone."