Tim Cook says Apple isn't against digital ads, wants user control and transparency

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Apple CEO Tim Cook has clarified that the company is "not against digital advertising" ahead of the release of the App Tracking Transparency privacy feature.

Credit: Apple
Credit: Apple


The Apple chief executive recently spoke with The Toronto Star about the company's recent privacy endeavors. That includes the upcoming App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature, launching in iOS 14.5, that will require apps to request permission before they track users.

On that subject, Cook told the publication that Apple believes users should have control and transparency when it comes to their data being used for targeted advertising.

"We're not against digital advertising," Cook said. "I think digital advertising is going to thrive in any situation, because more and more time is spent online, less and less is spent on linear TV. And digital advertising will do well in any situation. The question is, do we allow the building of this detailed profile to exist without your consent?"

Cook also mentioned that the ATT feature, which will also be available in iPadOS 14.5 and tvOS 14.5, will launch "in a few weeks." Apple is currently beta testing the software.

"We feel so much that it's our responsibility to help our users be able to make this decision. We're not going to make the decision for them. Because it's not our decision either. It should be each of ours' as to what happens with our data. Who has it and how they use it," Cook said.

When asked about why ATT has seen strong pushback from companies like Facebook or Procter & Gamble, Cook suggested it could be because those firms are worried that they'll have less information on their customers.

"The only reason why you would push back is if you believe you'll get less data. The only reason you would get less data is because people are consciously deciding not to do it and were not being asked before," Cook said.

The Apple chief executive also reiterated that privacy is not a branding exercise for Apple. Instead, he says the company's commitment to user privacy extends much further back.

"If you look back in time with Apple, you would find us talking about privacy decades ago. We think the current situation is urgent," Cook said.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 7
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,523member
    I think Tim is speaking from experience. The very messy and expensive "batterygate" issue was a painful lesson for Apple about what happens when customers feel that they lost "control and transparency" over something they feel they should be part of. It doesn't matter how well intentioned Apple was, the mere fact that they did it in a less than totally transparent manner cost them dearly. Nobody likes having the wool pulled over their eyes.

    Those who serve up ads need to come clean and tell people exactly what they are doing and allow those who are affected to make a choice. Some will weigh the pros and cons and remain open to surveillance if they feel that the pros are worth it. Other won't. But the sneaking around behind our backs has to stop.

    For a company that sells cleaning products, like P&G, it's time for them to come clean with their business practices. 

    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 7
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,065member
    I always thought discontinuing iAd was a bad idea.

    Apple should bring its own form of advertising back. Maybe Ads that gather your information securely to your Apple ID and device but “tokenizes” it from advertisers and even Apple. Could this also make Siri smarter? 
    edited April 12 repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 7
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 22,826member
    Beats said:
    I always thought discontinuing iAd was a bad idea.

    Apple should bring its own form of advertising back. Maybe Ads that gather your information securely to your Apple ID and device but “tokenizes” it from advertisers and even Apple. Could this also make Siri smarter? 
     Federated Learning of Cohorts where no personally identifiable data leaves your device for use in targeted advertising. 
    https://web.dev/floc/
    edited April 12
  • Reply 4 of 7
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,065member
    gatorguy said:
    Beats said:
    I always thought discontinuing iAd was a bad idea.

    Apple should bring its own form of advertising back. Maybe Ads that gather your information securely to your Apple ID and device but “tokenizes” it from advertisers and even Apple. Could this also make Siri smarter? 
     Federated Learning of Cohorts where no personally identifiable data leaves your device for use in targeted advertising. 
    https://web.dev/floc/

    Wow thanks! That’s a fairly new article will have to read it.

    I know it sounds “too good but be true” but Apple often nails those things. 
    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 7
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,091member
    Apple should let users indicate to advertisers (through settings in the OS) what topics they are interested in seeing. Perhaps a series of checkboxes for popular ad categories: Cars, Clothes, Pets, Health, Media, Food, Finance, etc. That might make advertisers happier without getting privacy advocates upset, since this is about giving users the power of choice.
  • Reply 6 of 7
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,338member
    Apple should let users indicate to advertisers (through settings in the OS) what topics they are interested in seeing. Perhaps a series of checkboxes for popular ad categories: Cars, Clothes, Pets, Health, Media, Food, Finance, etc. That might make advertisers happier without getting privacy advocates upset, since this is about giving users the power of choice.
    Nope. Nothing will make advertisers happy until they have datamined absolutely everything there is to know about you, and then they'll try to turn on the mics and cameras (like Amazon and Facebook already do) to gather offline conversations and much more.

    Google has convinced advertisers, with very little proof, that absolute nth-degree microtargeting is the only true path to increasing sales and growth -- despite nearly two centuries of historical proof that suggests otherwise. It's a great shell game, but the day they went beyond showing users targeted ads on various websites based only on what you searched for on Google -- and then additionally sell that data to absolutely anyone with money -- is the day Google crossed over to the Dark Side and should not be considered to be actively undermining both the internet and democracies everywhere, because money is their only god.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 7
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 22,826member
    chasm said:
    Apple should let users indicate to advertisers (through settings in the OS) what topics they are interested in seeing. Perhaps a series of checkboxes for popular ad categories: Cars, Clothes, Pets, Health, Media, Food, Finance, etc. That might make advertisers happier without getting privacy advocates upset, since this is about giving users the power of choice.
    It's a great shell game, but the day they went beyond showing users targeted ads on various websites based only on what you searched for on Google -- and then additionally sell that data to absolutely anyone with money -- is the day Google crossed over to the Dark Side and should not be considered to be actively undermining both the internet and democracies everywhere, because money is their only god.
    For an obviously smart guy like yourself. it's sad to see you write such obviously fake stuff just to make a point you'd be respected more for using facts as evidence.
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