Apple reportedly acquires privacy-focused AI startup

Apple quietly bought artificial intelligence startup Silk Labs, according to a report.

The acquisition occurred earlier this year, The Information reported Tuesday, citing an unnamed source.

Silk Labs specializes in developing on-device AI software, meaning it doesn't have to communicate with the cloud, where companies potentially would have access to huge amounts of personal data.

The San Mateo, California, company was founded in 2015 by Andreas Gal, Chris Jones and Michael Vines, who'd previously worked on Mozilla's Firefox OS smartphone software project. The company scrapped a Kickstarter push to bring smart hardware to homes in 2016, choosing to focus instead on getting its software on other companies' devices.

The deal was most likely a modest one by Apple's standards, since Silk Labs only had about 12 employees and raised around $4 million in funding, The Information noted.

Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke passionately about data privacy at the European Parliament last month, noting that he supports a "comprehensive federal data privacy law" in the US.

Neither Apple nor Silk Labs immediately responded to requests for comment.

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