Ex-Facebook security chief calls out Tim Cook and Apple's practices in China

  • Former Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos said on Twitter Apple needs to "come clean" about how it blocks ways to provide a more secure and private way to access apps in China.
  • Stamos was responding to comments made by Apple CEO Tim Cook, who spoke harshly about the data collection and use practices of social media companies for advertising.
  • "We don't want the media to create an incentive structure that ignores treating Chinese citizens as less-deserving of privacy protections because a CEO is willing to bad-mouth the business model of their primary competitor, who uses advertising to subsidize cheaper devices," Stamos tweeted.
Alex Stamos
Brendan Moran | Getty Images
Alex Stamos

Former Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos called out Apple over its actions to limit access to apps in China.

"We don't want the media to create an incentive structure that ignores treating Chinese citizens as less-deserving of privacy protections because a CEO is willing to bad-mouth the business model of their primary competitor, who uses advertising to subsidize cheaper devices," Stamos said in a series of tweets responding to recent comments made by Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Cook spoke about privacy regulations at a keynote speech during the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC) conference in Brussels on Wednesday. He called out social media companies for abusing user privacy to create algorithms to "serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into hardened convictions."

Though Stamos said he agreed with "almost everything" Cook said, in a series of tweets he called out Apple for blocking the ability to download VPN and encrypted messaging apps in China, which could provide ways to connect to the internet and send messages privately and without surveillance.

"We don't want the media to create an incentive structure that ignores treating Chinese citizens as less-deserving of privacy protections because a CEO is willing to bad-mouth the business model of their primary competitor, who uses advertising to subsidize cheaper devices," Stamos tweeted in an apparent reference to Google and its Android operating system for smartphones.

Stamos called for companies like Google, Twitter and his former employer Facebook to collect less data and the need for strong privacy laws in the U.S., in agreement with Cook. However, he also said Apple needs to "come clean" about its practices in China.

"Apple needs to come clean on how iCloud works in China and stop setting damaging precedents for how willing American companies will be to service the internal security desires of the Chinese Communist Party," he tweeted.

See his comments below. Stamos did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.