Apple, unlike Google, or Facebook, or even Microsoft, is not a services company (as long-suffering iCloud/MobileMe/.Mac/iTools customs can attest), and so, to prescribe any sort of goodness to their decision to not retain user data is much less useful than an examination of what actually matters to their bottom line. And, as a hardware company, that means the supply chain.
This is such a good piece. Apple may not be the only company using their pool of suppliers, but they are arguably the most influential company with those suppliers. While there are products made in far worse conditions, and while it is a delicate matter of imposing Western-style labour expectations on these factories, the Businessweek article Thompson refers to underscores the need for Apple to make changes.
As one of the most influential companies in the world, they will get their share of negative press, but they can also own the positive changes they make to their contract factories. Yes, they already audit more factories than any other technology company, but it seems pertinent and pressing for them to do more.