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Tim Cook blasts Google and Facebook while boasting of Apple’s commitment to privacy

Published Jun 3rd, 2015 7:45AM EDT
Tim Cook Privacy

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The old adage of, “If a product is free you are the product” isn’t lost on Apple CEO Tim Cook. During a recent speech delivered at an Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) event in Washington D.C., Cook championed Apple’s core belief that user privacy and security should remain at the forefront of all products and services.

TechCrunch on Tuesday posted highlights from Cook’s talk, where the Apple CEO and operations wiz passionately emphasized Apple’s unwavering commitment to privacy.

“Like many of you, we at Apple reject the idea that our customers should have to make tradeoffs between privacy and security,” Cook stated. “We can, and we must provide both in equal measure. We believe that people have a fundamental right to privacy. The American people demands it, the constitution demands it, morality demands it.”

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Later, Cook took some thinly veiled shots at companies like Google and Facebook who, for all intents and purposes, generate billions of dollars in revenue every quarter by transacting in consumer data. Remember, every tidbit of personal information one provides to either Google or Facebook, whether it be your age or favorite sports team, is something each company can leverage for financial gain.

Suffice it to say, Cook looks down at that type of business model.

“I’m speaking to you from Silicon Valley,” Cook began, “where some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information. They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.”

As a quick aside, it’s easy for Apple to take such a strong stance on protecting personal information since Apple’s business model comes from selling hardware, not advertisements.

“We don’t think you should ever have to trade it for a service you think is free but actually comes at a very high cost,” Cook continued. “This is especially true now that we’re storing data about our health, our finances and our homes on our devices.”

And though Cook never mentioned Google by name, it was abundantly clear who he was referring to.

“We believe the customer should be in control of their own information,” Cook explained. “You might like these so-called free services, but we don’t think they’re worth having your email, your search history and now even your family photos data-mined and sold off for god knows what advertising purpose. And we think some day, customers will see this for what it is.”

Note the overt reference to Google Photos there?

Stepping away from the privacy realm, Cook also touched on encryption, framing the discussion as a civil liberties issue. Not surprisingly, Cook emphasized Apple’s ongoing commitment towards keeping devices secure and free from the prying eyes of the Government.

“Removing encryption tools from our products all together, as some in Washington would like us to do, would only hurt law-abiding citizens who rely on us to protect their data,” Cook said. “The bad guys will still encrypt, it’s easy to do and readily available.”

All in all, Cook’s talk was, as TechCrunch notes, rather “blistering.” Make sure to hit the source link below for a full recap of what Cook had to say.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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