Does Steve Jobs’ value to Apple eliminate his right to medical privacy?

“Decades ago, Jobs was a private citizen until teaming up in 1976 with Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne to establish Apple Computer Inc. Since then, and especially in recent years—following his return to lead the company through the darkest period in its history—Jobs has become the face of Apple and a celebrity,” Bolaji Ojo writes for EE Times.

“Peter Oppenheimer seems to think otherwise. The Apple chief financial officer and senior vice president sought—during a conference call on the company’s latest quarterly results—to dismiss questions raised in the media about the health of his boss,” Ojo writes. “Jobs’ health, according to Oppenheimer, ‘is a private matter,’ adding ‘Steve loves Apple. He serves as the CEO at the pleasure of Apple’s board and has no plans to leave Apple.'”

Ojo writes, “Oppenheimer is wrong, and his comments indicate Apple’s management either isn’t willing to admit publicly how Jobs’ persona has merged into the company’s image or perhaps, fearing the impact of admitting the obvious, the executives would rather downplay very public fears of the impact on Apple if anything were to happen to Jobs.”

MacDailyNews Take: We don’t know what Oppenheimer thinks; he’s merely saying exactly what Jobs told him to say.

Ojo continues, “Jobs is no more a private individual than Mickey Mouse is just another stuffed animal. Jobs is a legend in the personal computing world, and increasingly in the consumer electronics market where he is credited with helping to drive much needed change in interactive wireless communications with the iPhone and in digital music with the iPod and iTunes. But the consequences of Jobs’ health extends way beyond his immediate family. For that reason alone, Jobs’ health is a matter of interest to all Apple stakeholders.”

MacDailyNews Take: There are a lot of things that Apple shareholders would like to know. That does not mean they have a right to be told.

Ojo lists six reasons why he believes that Steve Jobs’ health is not a private matter:

1. Speculation about Jobs’ health is hurting Apple’s stock price and can affect relationships with key suppliers and partners.
2. After returning in 1997, Jobs gave Apple a new lease on life following one of the most dismal periods in its history.
3. Apple’s lofty market valuation depends upon the perception that Jobs is the innovative spirit behind the company.
4. Apple has experienced huge revenue and profits growth under Jobs.
5. Apple is still vulnerable.
6. There’s no clear [successor] to Jobs in Apple’s current executive ranks.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: What does #2 (or some others in his list) have to do with why Jobs health is not a private matter? You don’t need “six reasons.” The argument boils down simply: Steve Jobs’ value to Apple either somehow eliminates his right to privacy regarding medical conditions or it doesn’t. Take your pick.

For further information via The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office for Civil Rights:
• Your Health Information Privacy Rights
Privacy and Your Health Information

58 Comments

  1. “When it came to light that the company concealed his illness from the public for almost nine months, there was a lot of ill will cast in Apple’s direction. Now that the same concerns are being discussed again (and taking into consideration today’s Times report about the second Jobs surgery), both Jobs and Apple have a responsibility to act in the best interests of each other, and they can do that by becoming completely transparent about the health of the most valuable man in the consumer electronics industry.”

    Apple absolutely should NOT respond every time some a**hat reporter for a crappy rag newpaper chooses to write a story based on rumor. Apple would have to send out a press release every two weeks.

    What Apple should do is make it clear at the annual meeting that if there ever is a matter (health or otherwise) that is of material importance to shareholders that they will disclose it in a timely manner (meaning not 9 months after they found out).

    However, the board can’t do anything if SJ doesn’t tell them about an issue, and there is nothing the Board can do to force him to disclose something he doesn’t choose to.

  2. there is always some lame ass excuse for apple’s stock dip at any apple function. steve’s health is his own affair. these moronic oxygen thieves feeding on hype need to choke on their own myopic self-righteousness.
    like BLUEFIN said…let them post their medical history and we’ll go from there…
    such bullshit.

  3. I have two more things to say:

    1. MDN is rapidly losing it’s sights on the Daily iPhone News; its becoming to paraphrase Oppenheimer (not the Apple one, the Bomb one who was quoting J Donne) Daily becomer of Death News

    B. I miss the Daily political sniping News

    3. What was the middle thing?

  4. I am a stockholder and have been for almost a decade. I am satisfied with Apple’s level of disclosure regarding Steve Jobs’ health.

    Although it is clear that the Jobs/Apple relationship is unusual and extraordinary, it does not follow that Steve has to give up his rights to personal privacy, which includes public discussions of his health. Let’s all wish him well and move on…

  5. Bottom line: Without Steve Jobs there is no Apple.
    Within a year after Jobs steps down from Apple the company will be bought by Sony or At&T;or another financial group.

    So, yes, the health of Steve Jobs matters to everyone that owns stock in the company. If jobs quit tomorrow Apple stock would drop 50% or more and lots of people would lose lots of money.
    His health should be a public matter.

  6. @jtc

    Doesn’t matter if I own AAPL stocks or not. Steve Jobs is entitled to his privacy. Apple has said several times that he is fine. If people would stop speculating on his health when told that he is okay, the stock wouldn’t be so volatile.

  7. He is not a publicly elected official and therefore, ultimately, his medical issues are 100% his business, and we are free to continue to wonder and speculate… I think that is ethical and right – Is it legal? Hell if I know. To bad there has to be a difference.

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