Tim Cook expects 'inevitable' privacy legislation, values user privacy as an Apple core va...

Posted:
in General Discussion edited November 2018
An interview previously recorded with Apple CEO Tim Cook at Apple Park aired on Sunday night, with the executive telling Axios' Ina Fried and Mike Allen that he sees privacy regulation of tech as an inevitability.

Tim Cook on HBO
Tim Cook on HBO


Fried challenged Cook to answer why Apple takes Google's money to be the default search engine when Google's business explicitly relies on making money off of user data.

"We've been having a national discussion on tech and privacy, you guys have been a loud proponent of privacy, it fits in well with what you do," asked Fried. "How concerning is to you that even if it's other people's technology, Facebook, Google, whomever, it's happening still on your devices?"

Tim Cook reiterated that privacy is a core value, not ancillary to their business, and he named some of the features Apple implemented to act on that core value.

Apple CEO Tim Cook to #AxiosOnHBO on technological innovation: "Many times it's not that the creator set out to do evil, it's that there wasn't an anticipation of these negative things it could be used for." @hbodocs pic.twitter.com/Hv8QAPrp1M

-- Axios (@axios)


"It's not that it fits in with what we do, it's that this is a core value of ours," said Cook. "If you look back over time, we were talking about privacy well before iPhone, so we've always believed that privacy was at the core of our civil liberties. This is not a matter of privacy versus profits or privacy versus technical innovation, that's a false choice. What we've done is, your device has incredible intelligence about you, but I don't have to have all of that as a company."

Fried pushed back, asking about Google's positioning as the search engine for iOS.

"You don't directly have a big advertising business or make a lot of money off the data, but Google pays you on the order of billions of dollars a year to be the default search engine and they do have that business," pressed Fried. "If you really want the user to be totally free, why take that money?"

"Well, one, I think their search engine is the best, and that's very important, but two, look at what we've done with the controls that we've built in. We have private web browsing. We have an intelligent tracker prevention," answered Cook. "So what we've tried to do is come up with ways to help our users through the course of their day, and it is not a perfect thing, I'd be the very first person to say that. But it goes along way to helping."

Then the discussion turned to government regulation of user privacy.

"So, there's broad support for more federal regulation of tech," asked Mike Allen. "Do you think that's inevitable?"

"Generally speaking, I am not a big fan of regulation, I'm a big believer in the free market, but we have to admit when the free market's not working, and it hasn't worked here," responded Cook. "I think it's inevitable that there will be some level of regulation."

Cook has spoken in favor of federal regulation in the past and called for the US to consider legislation, outlining four key points that any legislation should contain.

In this interview on the Apple Park campus, Cook discussed his screentime habits. Cook also continued to position Augmented Reality as a game-changing technology, by demonstrating an AR landscaping application for positioning of trees in AR on the Apple Park lawn.

"Technology should amplify human performance and human experiences, and AR arguably does an unbelievable job at that, and I think it's going to change everything," Cook reiterated on the AR. "I think in a few years, we're not going to be able to imagine our lives without [augmented reality]. It's that profound a platform."

Cook was also asked about the male-dominated workforce and ensuing culture in Silicon Valley. Apple's CEO is expecting change on that front, soon.

"I think the Valley has been open and accepting to many different people from many different walks of life, but I agree 100% from a gender point of view that the Valley has missed it, and tech in general has missed it," said Cook. "I know for one, we spend a lot of energy on this, and are constantly asking ourselves how can we improve more and listening to what our folks tell us, and I got to believe other folks are doing this too, so I'm actually encouraged at this point, that there will be more marked improvement over time."

Axios teased the interview earlier on Sunday. At present, the full interview is not available on any venue other than HBO streaming services.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    Google and Facebook make most of their money by invading user privacy so I doubt there will be any legislation putting controls on those companies. Making huge sums of money is always more important than protecting privacy. Big investors know that those two companies are using private data to make money for shareholders. Big investors will fight hard to stop any legislation or regulation. Google and Facebook are huge contributors to top people in Washington and they're likely paying those people off to look the other way when it comes to protecting privacy. I think Tim Cook is fighting a losing battle. Too many people hate Apple to back Tim Cook's fight for personal privacy. As far as users are concerned, most Facebook and Google app users simply don't care about their own privacy and are likely happy to have their personal data spread all over the internet as long as they get free use of Facebook's and Google services. From what I've seen there are very few people who care about protecting their privacy. Even when data leaks are discovered, very few subscribers delete their accounts. Being part of a social group is much more important to them

    Look at all those active listening devices people are putting in their homes and apartments in almost every room. Do you really think those people care anything about personal privacy? Amazon is being praised constantly for putting hundreds of thousands of listening devices into people's homes and apartments. I sure don't want those things listening to me 24/7 as it makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable. Most people don't think that way. I don't know where all that bugged data is going. I figure if people are happily putting those active listening devices in their homes, then they don't care who's listening.  They're basically inviting Big Brother into their homes.  Tim Cook is all out there by himself will little backing from other companies.  I guess the attitudes of citizens in the U.S. are different from those citizens in Europe when it comes to privacy.  Actually, I would have thought European citizens would be more liberal when it comes to privacy.

    Many analysts believe both Google and Amazon will be bigger than Apple because those companies can harvest personal data from billions of people and turn it into company wealth.  It makes sense.  Those data harvesting companies are turning personal info into gold and they don't have to produce anything because those users are their valuable product.  Big investors are laughing all the way to the bank.
    edited November 2018 redgeminipa
  • Reply 2 of 10
    Google and Facebook make most of their money by invading user privacy so I doubt there will be any legislation putting controls on those companies. Making huge sums of money is always more important than protecting privacy. Big investors know that those two companies are using private data to make money for shareholders. Big investors will fight hard to stop any legislation or regulation. Google and Facebook are huge contributors to top people in Washington and they're likely paying those people off to look the other way when it comes to protecting privacy. I think Tim Cook is fighting a losing battle. Too many people hate Apple to back Tim Cook's fight for personal privacy. As far as users are concerned, most Facebook and Google app users simply don't care about their own privacy and are likely happy to have their personal data spread all over the internet as long as they get free use of Facebook's and Google services. From what I've seen there are very few people who care about protecting their privacy. Even when data leaks are discovered, very few subscribers delete their accounts. Being part of a social group is much more important to them

    Look at all those active listening devices people are putting in their homes and apartments in almost every room. Do you really think those people care anything about personal privacy? Amazon is being praised constantly for putting hundreds of thousands of listening devices into people's homes and apartments. I sure don't want those things listening to me 24/7 as it makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable. Most people don't think that way. I don't know where all that bugged data is going. I figure if people are happily putting those active listening devices in their homes, then they don't care who's listening.  They're basically inviting Big Brother into their homes.  Tim Cook is all out there by himself will little backing from other companies.  I guess the attitudes of citizens in the U.S. are different from those citizens in Europe when it comes to privacy.  Actually, I would have thought European citizens would be more liberal when it comes to privacy.

    Many analysts believe both Google and Amazon will be bigger than Apple because those companies can harvest personal data from billions of people and turn it into company wealth.  It makes sense.  Those data harvesting companies are turning personal info into gold and they don't have to produce anything because those users are their valuable product.  Big investors are laughing all the way to the bank.
    I don’t use Facebook due to privacy and security issues.  I do use Google because the alternatives are crap.  I do use Amazon for shopping and reading, but not anything Alexis related. Also, Twitter = Hell No.

    Besides Facebook (at maybe equal to Facebook) is Microsoft.  They’ve gone “all in” on user data collection under their new CEO.  Going forward, they’re public enemy #1 because it’s difficult to avoid using their products.  Microsoft is shameless.  Any fines they receive is already calculated/included on their bottom line, as long as projected profits exceed the risks, they could care less if it puts their users at risk.

    williamlondon
  • Reply 3 of 10
    IMO the question about using google as a standard search engine is a good one and wasn’t properly answered (unless you imply it’s simply about the money). The fact that there hs been already something on the market never really stopped Apple from going in. See maps, pay, news and others. Why not start their own search engine? They have the resources to do so. Possibly base it off DuckDuckGo eg. do they want to stay away because it would inevitably interfere with their core value of privacy - in other words: it cannot be done without selling out on this value? Personally, I would opt in an Apple search in a heartbeat, and it might help with stuff like Siri as well. 
    redgeminipakayessmuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 4 of 10
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 692editor
    IMO the question about using google as a standard search engine is a good one and wasn’t properly answered (unless you imply it’s simply about the money). The fact that there hs been already something on the market never really stopped Apple from going in. See maps, pay, news and others. Why not start their own search engine? They have the resources to do so. Possibly base it off DuckDuckGo eg. do they want to stay away because it would inevitably interfere with their core value of privacy - in other words: it cannot be done without selling out on this value? Personally, I would opt in an Apple search in a heartbeat, and it might help with stuff like Siri as well. 
    Consider that if Apple did make a search engine, and it performed worse than Google, it would be Maps all over again - early worse performance while it matured, with Apple playing catch-up, and carrying the bad reputation for years. Does Apple need that albatross? Arguably, they're best able to switch away from Google if:

    1. Siri interaction and HomePod becomes dominant
    2. Apple's replacement can provide the correct answers, not "I'm sorry, I can't find the answer right now"
    2. UI can present search results without showing where they came from (same as Siri, effectively - you don't care that it's came via Google, you care that you got the correct result.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 10
    croprcropr Posts: 936member
    Google and Facebook make most of their money by invading user privacy so I doubt there will be any legislation putting controls on those companies
    Never heard of GDPR?  Or do you live on another planet?
    As far as users are concerned, most Facebook and Google app users simply don't care about their own privacy and are likely happy to have their personal data spread all over the internet as long as they get free use of Facebook's and Google services.
    A hardware vendor who charges excessive prices, can of course tell a different story than companies who offer free services.  A lot of people do care about their privacy but do not have the means or the will to pay >$1000 for a smartphone.  That is the reason why GDPR legislation has been created.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 6 of 10
    croprcropr Posts: 936member
    IMO the question about using google as a standard search engine is a good one and wasn’t properly answered (unless you imply it’s simply about the money). The fact that there hs been already something on the market never really stopped Apple from going in. See maps, pay, news and others. Why not start their own search engine? They have the resources to do so. Possibly base it off DuckDuckGo eg. do they want to stay away because it would inevitably interfere with their core value of privacy - in other words: it cannot be done without selling out on this value? Personally, I would opt in an Apple search in a heartbeat, and it might help with stuff like Siri as well. 
    Have you ever considered that the Google Apple deal about the search engine is hidden from the public and might contain restrictions: e.g. that Apple is not allowed to develop its own search engine.  If I would be Google I would certainly put such a clause in the contract.

    There is another concern.  DuckDuckGo is very US oriented (content wise and language wise), while Google Search has a worldwide focus, fully localized in a lot of languages and regions.  Apple does not have a good track record in supporting its services worldwide.  Maybe it is better to choose the battles you can win.
    williamlondonwonkothesane
  • Reply 7 of 10
    peteopeteo Posts: 360member
    Too many people hate Apple to back Tim Cook's fight for personal privacy.
    While that is true, I think a lot people buy The iPhone for apples stance on privacy and the "protections" it provides. iOS requires apps to ask permissions for location, contacts, photos etc each individually when it is launched so you can be somewhat aware what data it has access to. With android when you install an app it comes up with one big window with tons of requests for access so much so you do not even know what information it is getting and it will not even install with out agreeing to them all. also pretty much every app on android asks for the same amount of access.

     I agree there needs to be laws around privacy, but as many others have said its going to be an uphill battle because of all the money being made already. (This needed to addressed before the internet exploded) Really there needs to be a constitutional amendment to the right for privacy. We have a lot of issues coming up with tech becoming very cheap and powerful to easily be able to track you and every thing you do real time any where you go in the real world.
    edited November 2018 williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 10
    peteopeteo Posts: 360member
    Never heard of GDPR?  Or do you live on another planet?
    Have you every heard of the united states where a majority of our politicians get money from these companies and tend to vote against regulation of companies they get money from?
    Carnagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 10
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,591member
    cropr said:
    Google and Facebook make most of their money by invading user privacy so I doubt there will be any legislation putting controls on those companies
    Never heard of GDPR?  Or do you live on another planet?
    As far as users are concerned, most Facebook and Google app users simply don't care about their own privacy and are likely happy to have their personal data spread all over the internet as long as they get free use of Facebook's and Google services.
    A hardware vendor who charges excessive prices, can of course tell a different story than companies who offer free services.  A lot of people do care about their privacy but do not have the means or the will to pay >$1000 for a smartphone.  That is the reason why GDPR legislation has been created.
    Well, GDPR is all well and good, but we have yet to see how well it can be enforced, and unfortunately, Google seems to have developed a culture that will spend millions to hide endemic problems such as data leaks and widespread institutional sexual harassment. What do you think they're going to do when they fall foul of GDPR? Are they going to come clean, or spend whatever it takes to carry on as before? There track record for the former ain't that good.

    Oh, and there service is only 'free' if the privacy of yourself and your family is worth nothing to you.
    edited November 2018 watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 10
    cropr said:
    IMO the question about using google as a standard search engine is a good one and wasn’t properly answered (unless you imply it’s simply about the money). The fact that there hs been already something on the market never really stopped Apple from going in. See maps, pay, news and others. Why not start their own search engine? They have the resources to do so. Possibly base it off DuckDuckGo eg. do they want to stay away because it would inevitably interfere with their core value of privacy - in other words: it cannot be done without selling out on this value? Personally, I would opt in an Apple search in a heartbeat, and it might help with stuff like Siri as well. 
    Have you ever considered that the Google Apple deal about the search engine is hidden from the public and might contain restrictions: e.g. that Apple is not allowed to develop its own search engine.  If I would be Google I would certainly put such a clause in the contract.

    There is another concern.  DuckDuckGo is very US oriented (content wise and language wise), while Google Search has a worldwide focus, fully localized in a lot of languages and regions.  Apple does not have a good track record in supporting its services worldwide.  Maybe it is better to choose the battles you can win.
    I think you have valid points here. 
    williamlondon
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