Inside Apple there's a trio of experts known among employees as the privacy czars that are both admired and feared.
The first czar is Jane Horvath a lawyer, who previously served as global privacy counsel at Google, is the group's legal and policy wonk, often channeling the views of Apple's board and citing regulatory requirements, said former employees who have worked with her.
She was hired to formalize privacy practices after the 2011 "locationgate" scandal, in which iPhones were found to be gathering information about users' whereabouts.
Horvath works alongside Apple's second czar, Guy "Bud" Tribble, a member of the original Macintosh team who is venerated by employees as one of the few who "had been to the mountain with Moses," as one former employee put it, referring to Tribble's ties to the late Steve Jobs.
Tribble has broad responsibilities as vice president of software technology, but he devotes substantial time to privacy, often working with closely with engineers. The meetings can be tense, but Tribble's skill and easy personality make him a popular figure, people who have worked with him said.
The third czar, a rising star named Erik Neuenschwander who recently wrote a Supplemental Declaration to Judge Pym in the FBI vs. Apple case. Neuenschwander scrutinizes engineers' work to ensure they are following through on the agreements - even reviewing lines of code.
Following a popular philosophy in Silicon Valley known as "privacy by design," product managers start collaborating early with the privacy engineering and legal teams, former Apple employees said. For complicated matters, the privacy taskforce steers the issue to a senior vice president, and particularly sensitive questions may rise to Cook.
The Biggest Casualty to Fall: iAd
The Reuters report also focused on "The biggest casualty of Apple's privacy stance may be iAd, a service launched in 2010 that aimed to deliver ads inside iPhone apps, with revenue to be split between Apple and app developers.
Although Apple was a late entrant, it had a tantalizing asset: iTunes, one of the industry's richest troves of consumer data.
That database, however, was off limits. Whenever employees wanted to use iTunes data to sharpen targeting, they had to appeal to the privacy team, according to two former Apple employees who worked on iAd.
The iAd team fought hard to give advertisers greater visibility into who saw their ads, those employees said. Their hope was to create anonymous identifiers so advertisers could discern which users had seen their ads.
But despite about a dozen similar pitches, the most executives would allow was a count of how many users had seen an advertisement, according to the former employees.
"It was so watered down, it wasn't even useful," one of the former employees said.
As a result, iAd struggled to entice advertisers, who will pay a premium for detailed data on their customers. In January, Apple announced it would discontinue the iAd app network. For more on this report, read the full Reuters report here.