updated 09:38 pm EDT, Tue May 15, 2012
Issues discussed, length of meeting unrevealed
In a surprise move, Apple CEO Tim Cook was in Washington DC today and met with US House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). The speaker's office released a picture of the two men in mid-conversation, but did not release any details about what they talked about or the length of the meeting. Cook later also met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Apple has recently been criticized by Washington insiders for its historically low (but rising) spending on lobbying. Apple traditionally spends little time and money on Washington, preferring to work around political problems in the countries it sells in. Of late, however, the company has spoken up in favor of net neutrality and other technological causes, and has joined in with a group pushing for a foreign-income tax break in order to "repatriate" profits made overseas. Apple may also be seeking legislative help with IP protection and patent reform, topics that have played an increasing role in the company's legal entanglements.
The company has come under increasing scrutiny by officials such as Sen. Al Franken, who has often acted as a vanguard for online privacy for consumers. Apple's policies on user privacy are generally much tougher than those of rivals such as Google and Facebook, but Apple has not been with criticism for what some have seen as a lax attitude about security that may have contributed to how widespread the recent Java-based Flashback malware was able to spread.
The company recently attracted publicity and attention when it was discovered that developers were abusing some unprotected data on users' mobile devices, for example uploading address books and photos without the users' explicit permission. Apple has generally moved swiftly to correct such problems when they appear.