Apple's Cook speaks out against public, private data harvesting policies

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 2015
At the Electronic Privacy Information Center's Champions of Freedom event on Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook delivered an impassioned speech about public and private sector data collection, emphasizing consumers need data privacy, strong security and the right to encryption.


Source: EPIC


In his teleconferenced address, Cook, who was honored by EPIC for his work as a corporate leader, played the usual role of privacy advocate and railed against data collection efforts furthering the agendas of tech companies and government surveillance programs, reports TechCrunch.

"Like many of you, we at Apple reject the idea that our customers should have to make tradeoffs between privacy and security," Cook said. "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."

The remarks are congruous with Cook's staunch opposition of public and private data collection efforts, a position made clear during an interview with Charlie Rose last year. Apple's chief executive reasserted the need for consumer privacy and adequate data encryption in an open letter to customers, saying his company doesn't trade in customer information.

"I'm speaking to you from Silicon Valley, where some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information," Cook said. "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."

Cook took the opportunity to call out Google's new Google Photos service, which is ostensibly free to use, but comes with provisions that ultimately turn customer data into a form of currency.

"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," Cook said. "And we think some day, customers will see this for what it is."

That last jab was lifted almost word-for-word from statements given to The Telegraph in February. At the time, Cook said consumers may not currently comprehend the implications of giving up their personal data, but believes "one day they will, and will be very offended."

On the topic of data encryption, Cook criticized government initiatives that would have services build security backdoors into existing encryption technologies like protections offered by iOS. He said the technique is analogous to hiding a key under your doormat; it's available to authorities if necessary, but burglars can find it too.

"Criminals are using every technology tool at their disposal to hack into people's accounts. If they know there's a key hidden somewhere, they won't stop until they find it," he said.

EPIC is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit research center that deals with data privacy and security concerns.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 108
    good timing, we just had some interesting discussions on googles use of your photos v apples, where some of our member s thought the agreement was the same, and failed to notice (point out) subtle but important differences.
  • Reply 2 of 108
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,148member
    Way to call out Google (and a few others). Well done Tim.

    Cue up Gatorguy's rebuttal of Tim's speech on behalf of Google.
  • Reply 3 of 108
    netroxnetrox Posts: 717member
    THANK YOU TIM!
  • Reply 4 of 108
    joshajosha Posts: 901member

    Well now, Cook is really cooking on the privacy subject.

    Even took a knock at Google;  well now.

     

    I'm hoping some friends who think I'm silly for my comments on spying by Google and Facebook, etc.; 

        will soon understand the privacy threat the Internet is.

    OMG Google is attempting have all our household electrics connected to them via the Net.

      "Android Inside" gives them away, it's becoming a function in many smart TVs.

          I expect they will soon hide the Android description. 8-) 

  • Reply 5 of 108
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    I'd love Cook to explain how iAds and ads in ITunes Radio is different.

    This passage is on Apple's privacy page. It specifically mentions using personal information to improve products, services and advertising.

    https://www.apple.com/privacy/privacy-policy/
    We also use personal information to help us create, develop, operate, deliver, and improve our products, services, content and advertising, and for loss prevention and anti-fraud purposes.

    If Cook is really serious about this Apple should get rid of all advertising. No advertising in apps, or iTunes.
  • Reply 6 of 108
    dtm1212dtm1212 Posts: 11member
    I read an article about this on another Apple/Mac site. The basic premise was how Cook was not being "totally truthful" regarding Google and privacy.

    In order to login and post a comment on the article on that site? Must register or login with your Facebook ID (don't have one myself). So you can understand how that site respects privacy, Facebook? Privacy? LOL
  • Reply 7 of 108
    dabedabe Posts: 97member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    I'd love Cook to explain how iAds and ads in ITunes Radio is different. I wonder if Apple will eventually ditch both.



    I'd love it if Rogifan would explain exactly how it's all the same.

  • Reply 8 of 108
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    dabe wrote: »

    I'd love it if Rogifan would explain exactly how it's all the same.

    Apple says it uses personal information to improve advertising. What exactly does that mean? Sorry I don't have issues with Google that everyone else does. I don't use their services outside of search and maps but I've never had my personal data compromised. At most when I go to a certain website it will show me an ad for something I recently searched, like a pair of shoes. Big deal.

    Obviously Tim Cook can take this stance because Apple makes money off selling hardware. But that was always Apple's business model. It wasn't like they switched to it to protect your privacy. It's like when Jeff Bezos took a swipe at Apple by saying Amazon only wants to make money when you use their product, not when you buy them. Well no shit as Amazon is all about Prime subscriptions p, not making money off selling hardware. All these executives portray their business models as being the most altruistic.
  • Reply 9 of 108
    leavingthebiggleavingthebigg Posts: 1,119member

    Go, Tim!

  • Reply 10 of 108
    wigbywigby Posts: 688member

    I think it might be a matter of degrees. Every company has data on you in some form if you're a customer. But Apple has less mined data than most service-oriented tech companies and that means less data residing on servers that could be stolen and less data being sold and used by advertisers. 

     

    We know there are no absolutes in security and privacy. Apple's just trying to clarify their position as closer to absolutely secure than Google and others.

  • Reply 11 of 108
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,699member
    If google is so bad why did Apple make google the default search engine back when the iPhone first came out (it was on my iphone4 least ways). Why does Apple give an option for a search engine including bing and google. Why did Apple let google has a Map app as a default?

    Cook is only singing this song, because google released android.

    Personally I'm happy with some effective monopolies on the internet/computers-Google with search and mapping, Facebook for social, Microsoft for business APPS, and Apple for personal/consumer devices. I just don't want one of these companies taking too many pieces of the pie. It's kind of how people thought when Microsoft was pushing passport.
  • Reply 12 of 108
    suddenly newtonsuddenly newton Posts: 13,740member
    rogifan wrote: »
    This passage is on Apple's privacy page. It specifically mentions using personal information to improve products, services and advertising.

    Isn't that a boilerplate text? How is that an issue?
  • Reply 13 of 108
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,848member

    Would be nice if Cook took Obama to task for his lack of interest in carrying out his sworn duty to protect and defend the Constitution, or at minimum stopped associating himself and Apple with one of the most divisive presidents in recent history.

  • Reply 14 of 108
    diegogdiegog Posts: 134member

    Maybe you wouldn't have to question Cook's sincerity if you were more educated on your options...you can opt out on ALL Apple products: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202074

     

    google gives you that option...right?

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    I'd love Cook to explain how iAds and ads in ITunes Radio is different.



    This passage is on Apple's privacy page. It specifically mentions using personal information to improve products, services and advertising.



    https://www.apple.com/privacy/privacy-policy/

    If Cook is really serious about this Apple should get rid of all advertising. No advertising in apps, or iTunes.

  • Reply 15 of 108
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,288member
    diegog wrote: »
    Maybe you wouldn't have to question Cook's sincerity if you were more educated on your options...you can opt out on ALL Apple products: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202074

    google gives you that option...right?

    Yes they do.
    https://support.google.com/ads/answer/2662922?hl=en
    https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/465?hl=en
    https://accounts.google.com/deleteaccount

    Curious about what Google knows, how they know it, what they do with it and how to take control of it? Here's suggested reading:
    http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2015/06/privacy-security-tools-improvements.html
    and
    https://privacy.google.com/
  • Reply 16 of 108
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member



    Tim Cook: "We believe that people have a fundamental right to privacy. The American people demands it, the constitution demands it, morality demands it."

     

    Google: <crickets> ... <nervous fidgeting> ...

  • Reply 17 of 108
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member



    Eddy Cue: "We're not in the business of collecting your data." (9/9/2014)

     

    Google: <crickets> ... <nervous fidgeting> ...

  • Reply 18 of 108
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Isn't that a boilerplate text? How is that an issue?

    What does it mean? How is Apple using my personal information to improve advertising? I've got to believe Apple's legal team goes over this privacy stuff with a fine tooth comb.

    Don't get me wrong I believe Cook 100% when he says Apple is not interested in knowing all this stuff about us. But I don't think Google's reasons are all nefarious and I do think when it comes to AI and machine learning Google is leaps and bounds ahead of Apple. That doesn't happen without the ability to analyze lots and lots of data.
  • Reply 19 of 108
    dabedabe Posts: 97member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post





    Apple says it uses personal information to improve advertising. What exactly does that mean?

    Yes. Maybe it would be more helpful if we could compare the statements companies are willing to make when they specify what they will NOT do with our personal information. 

  • Reply 20 of 108
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    dabe wrote: »
    Yes. Maybe it would be more helpful if we could compare the statements companies are willing to make when they specify what they will NOT do with our personal information. 

    Actually Apple should be in the business of collecting data and analyzing it. They are incredibly far behind when it comes to machine learning/AI. But they've put themselves in a bind now with this dogmatic privacy approach and anything they try to do to improve services will be called into question if it involves any sort of data collection. If Apple really wants to put the screws to Google they HAVE to get better at big data. Spreading FUD about Google is not what Cook should be doing.
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