Apple privacy exec asked why Google remains its default search engine

How to use the Smart Search bar in Safari on iPhone and iPad
How to use the Smart Search bar in Safari on iPhone and iPad (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple's Senior Director of Global Privacy Jane Horvath attended a roundtable discussion on privacy.
  • The executive answered questions about privacy, tracking, and search engine defaults.

As reported by 9to5Mac, Jane Horvath, Apple's Senior Director of Global Privacy, participated in a roundtable discussion at the European Union's CPDP data protection conference earlier today. The executive followed a speech by Apple CEO Tim Cook in which Cook had strong words for businesses built on "misleading users, on data exploitation."

Following Apple CEO Tim Cook giving remarks at the EU data protection conference CPDP this morning, the company's senior director of global privacy Jane Horvath also partook in a roundtable discussion. Horvath was asked specific questions about Apple's use of Google as the default search engine on iPhones and more.

Horvath said that Apple views the current market, where customers trade their privacy for free services, as a "false dichotomy."

Horvath explained during the discussion that "we are truly at an inflection point" in regards to user privacy. She questioned whether users should "continue with the current norm which involves a privacy trade-off, providing unlimited personal data in order to enjoy free services." Apple views this as a "false dichotomy," Horvath added.

Horvath was also asked, since Apple focuses on user privacy, why the company continues to make Google the default search engine on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Horvath dodged the question and mentioned that users can set other search engines like DuckDuckGo, Bing, and most recently Ecosia as their individual default.

Finally, Horvath was asked about why Apple doesn't make DuckDuckGo the default search engine on iOS, rather than Google. She explained that while Google is the default, users can change to DuckDuckGo or other solutions. "Right now, Google is the most popular search engine. We do support Google but we also have built-in support for DuckDuckGo, and we recently also rolled out support for Ecosia"

What the executive left out here is that Google has a contract with Apple to be the default search engine on its devices and pays the company billions of dollars to do so. Of course, many would say that, for a company that just posted a record quarter of over $110 billion, Apple could live without such a contract and begin offering users a more direct choice rather than setting a default on its own.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.