Tech industry needs to rebuild user trust after privacy losses, says Tim Cook

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 21
Tech companies have eroded the trust of users in the industry, believes Apple CEO Tim Cook, with privacy becoming collateral damage from features in products that aren't thought through carefully enough.




Tim Cook is known to be outspoken when discussing privacy, referring to it repeatedly as a human right that everyone should have. In an interview published on Friday, Cook offers that it is the way that tech companies introduce new features has more of an impact on what it is used for, and whether it can harm someone's privacy.

"Technology doesn't want to be good. It doesn't want to be bad, it's neutral," Cook said in the interview with the Australian Financial Review. "And so it's in the hands of the inventor and the user as to whether it's used for good, or not used for good."

A feature's use depends on creativity, empathy, the "passion of the people behind the technology," according to the CEO. "At Apple, when we make something, we make sure that we spend an enormous amount of time thinking carefully about how it will be used."

The comments arrive at a time when Apple is under attack from critics for upcoming CSAM tools, which involves the scanning of hashes. Critics have warned it is a step towards creating a wider surveillance tool, which Apple has attempted to counter with further explanation of the system.

In continuing, Cook seemingly refers to Facebook, though not by name.

"The risk of not doing that means that technology loses touch with the user. And in that kind of case, privacy can become collateral damage," added Cook. "Conspiracy theories or hate speech begins to drown everything else out. Technology will only work if it has people's trust."

When asked if people's trust has been taken advantage of by tech firms, Cook replies "In some cases the answer is undeniably yes. And I think it's incumbent on all of us to rebuild that trust."

Cook's continued pressure on Facebook involves relatively combative language for a CEO to speak, which he says is needed now because more people "view privacy as a mainstream issue."

"Ten years ago, privacy was a niche issue," Cook said. "Today it's one of the primary issues in people's minds because people know that the web has become this surveillance tool in all too many cases, and that the building of detailed profiles on people has gone well beyond any kind of reasonable thing."

Competition is good

As well as privacy, the interview covers the App Store and Apple's dealings with the Australian legal system. Apple's public spat with Epic Games is set to continue in Australia after the country's federal court decided on Friday to allow a lawsuit to continue in November 2022.

Meanwhile, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission plans to introduce regulations to alter how much influence the Apple and other tech companies have in the territory.

On Apple's regulatory scrutiny, Cook reaffirms the belief that such examination of large companies is fair. "I start from the premise that regulation is necessary in some areas. And so it becomes a matter of determining where it's necessary and where the focus should be."

"In our model, the user is where the power exists because it's the user who decides when they buy a phone, are they going to buy an iPhone," he continues. "Are they going to buy any number of Android phones? And so it's a fiercely competitive market. And then the market inside the App Store is also fiercely competitive ... And so there's huge competition in all areas of this."

When asked if competition is always a good thing, Cook admits "I con't think of a case where competition is bad. I think competition is inherently good."

Cook confirms he is aware of the ACCC's intentions. "Anywhere in the world that we're being inspected is on my radar, at least that we're aware of, and it's incumbent on us to tell our story and to say why we do what we do."

This also applies to Apple's fight with banks in the country, which want to get direct access to the NFC technology used in the iPhone to provide their own payment apps, rather than going through Apple Pay.

The response from Cook is interpreted in the interview that the banks themselves couldn't be trusted to maintain Apple's level of security.

"It's the reality. If you put back doors in a system, anybody can use a back door. And so you have to make sure the system itself is robust and durable; otherwise you can see what happens in the security world," said Cook. "Every day you read about a breach, or you read about a ransomware."

The interview covered a number of other topics, including Cook being a "huge believer in augmented reality," taking over from Steve Jobs, and starting work at 4am.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34
    Why does he always look like he is praying?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 34
    mrstepmrstep Posts: 479member
    It's totally surreal.
    xyzzy-xxx
  • Reply 3 of 34
    He has no business talking about privacy with CSAM on the horizon. 
    xyzzy-xxxrcfachemengin1elijahg
  • Reply 4 of 34
    Apple's only realistic option would be to remove CSAM detection from device and defer this "feature" until it is ready to run in iCloud.
    Otherwise many customers (figures depending on countries) will not update to iOS 15 and iPhone 13.
    elijahg
  • Reply 5 of 34
    Dear Mr. Cook et al.  Free speech is also a critical part of privacy.  Both, we see, Apple and the tech industrial complex selling out and trampling on in every feature / version update. Without legal or political repercussions. The TikTok WhatsApp generation continue to hand over their privacy and freedoms in exchange for likes and follows and convenience. 

    When a business product is fee, that means you are the product. 
    rcfa9secondkox2DAalsethchemengin1georgie01entropyselijahg
  • Reply 6 of 34
    rcfarcfa Posts: 1,124member
    "And so it's in the hands of the inventor and the user as to whether it's used for good, or not used for good."

    NO, NO, and NO! WRONG!

    It’s none of the inventor’s business if it’s used for good or not! It’s SOLELY the USERs responsibility.
    georgie01elijahg
  • Reply 7 of 34
    rcfarcfa Posts: 1,124member
    Why does he always look like he is praying?
    Because the “woke” are the neo-puritans.
    “Wokeness” is a secular religion, hence the praying…
    georgie01elijahg
  • Reply 8 of 34
    "the web has become this surveillance tool"

    This work contemplates Apple's role and threats beyond privacy: www.goodreads.com/book/show/26195941-the-age-of-surveillance-capitalism

    Cory Doctorow also weighs in: onezero.medium.com/how-to-destroy-surveillance-capitalism-8135e6744d59
    edited August 20 prismatics
  • Reply 9 of 34
    Well Tim, then you know what to do. Abandon the utterly stupid idea of invading every single iPhone out there. It's like declaring every user is guilty of spreading child porn unless the Apple-jury finds otherwise. It's unlawfull and a breach of every human rights-treaty. I'm a longtime shareholder but I sincerely hope the EU will ban every Apple-product with this feature, as it should. I'm shocked and appaled 'my' Apple (been a fan for 34 years) has been working actively on an ludicrous feature like this. 
    CheeseFreezegeorgie01muthuk_vanalingamelijahg
  • Reply 10 of 34
    crowleycrowley Posts: 9,113member
    rcfa said:
    "And so it's in the hands of the inventor and the user as to whether it's used for good, or not used for good."

    NO, NO, and NO! WRONG!

    It’s none of the inventor’s business if it’s used for good or not! It’s SOLELY the USERs responsibility.
    Horseshit, take some responsibility for the things you create.
    zimmietycho_macuserblastdoorpscooter63n2itivguyroundaboutnowAlex_Vwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 34
    Hypocrisy from Cook. 

    All the privacy talk coupled with all the invasive action. 

    The pressure is huge. We get it. But don’t cave. This is the big thing separating Apple from everyone else. Literally. 

    Do this and you are just another fish in the red ocean. 

    If Apple is not careful, there will be a new “rebellious and different” Apple on the horizon, ready to overtake the “IBM” that Apple is becoming. 

    Between this in your face stiff and the increasing discoveries of root “vulnerabilities”/back doors, it’s more and more difficult to take Tim at his word. 

    At the very least, when you sell people out, be honest about it. That way they know to leave on their terms. But don’t lie and cover entire building with slogans like “what happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone” and then come back a year later and add “…unless it’s backed up on iCloud or locally scanned.”

    But of course, everyone is “misunderstanding” or didn’t hear correctly. Sorry Craig. People got it loud and clear. They just don’t agree. 

    Please get back to making products that enhance life’s and doesn’t spy on them. 

    Just beef up the parental controls with an option to notify the kids that their communications (text, email, photos, etc) are monitored and that gives the parents a copy of those communications. 

    There are ways to perform the heart of this without building a spying infrastructure the like of which the intelligence community would be envious of. 

    No longer a need to jump though hoops to spy. It comes built in with the worlds most used smartphone. 
    DAalsethgeorgie01entropysmuthuk_vanalingamelijahg
  • Reply 12 of 34
    crowleycrowley Posts: 9,113member

    At the very least, when you sell people out, be honest about it. 
    Apple aren't selling out.  There is no money being exchanged for their child abuses initiatives.  That's the difference between the privacy invasions of Google and Facebook and the things that Apple are doing, Apple do not profit, they are not profiling you, they are not using your data in any way that advantages themselves.  The "privacy invasions" of Apple amount to checking that you aren't committing a heinous crime, and when a piece of on-device code that exists solely for that purpose determines that you aren't, you go on your way, totally unaffected. 

    I wonder how many of those complaining about this privacy invasiveness are fully in favour of stop and frisk policies.  Now that's invasiveness.
    fastasleeppscooter639secondkox2n2itivguyWgkruegerAlex_V
  • Reply 13 of 34
    ... additionally I understand data veracity adds value to whatever (anonymized or otherwise) is collected, collated, analyzed and (behaviourally, predictively, AI content referenced or ?) monetized and so I have to ask if, for example the seemingly forced changes such as apple ID to email address, 'trusted' telephone number confirmation requests & even T2 storage controllers have this as a longer term strategic corporate goal in mind ...?
    edited August 20
  • Reply 14 of 34
    crowley said:
    rcfa said:
    It’s none of the inventor’s business if it’s used for good or not! It’s SOLELY the USERs responsibility.
    Horseshit, take some responsibility for the things you create.
    rcfa said it’s the user’s responsibility…

    Having government or big tech surveilling you is the opposite of taking responsibility. An increasing percentage of the population doesn’t understand what personal responsibility even is and what it means to give others space to express their own personal responsibility. There will be criminals, but there will be more criminals as people forget what personal responsibility is due to us not allowing people to learn what it is.
    edited August 20 elijahgmacplusplus
  • Reply 15 of 34
    crowleycrowley Posts: 9,113member
    georgie01 said:
    crowley said:
    rcfa said:
    It’s none of the inventor’s business if it’s used for good or not! It’s SOLELY the USERs responsibility.
    Horseshit, take some responsibility for the things you create.
    rcfa said it’s the user’s responsibility…
    Yes, and I called it horseshit.
    georgie01 said:

    Having government or big tech surveilling you is the opposite of taking responsibility. An increasing percentage of the population doesn’t understand what personal responsibility even is and what it means to give others space to express their own personal responsibility. There will be criminals, but there will be more criminals as people forget what personal responsibility is due to us not allowing people to learn what it is.
    Personal responsibility exists at all levels, including for the creators of technology that can be used in bad ways and spread mass misery.

    People who bleat about personal responsibility always seem to be talking about other people's responsibilities, and never about their own.
    n2itivguyroundaboutnow
  • Reply 16 of 34
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 2,488member
    crowley said:

    At the very least, when you sell people out, be honest about it. 
    Apple aren't selling out.  There is no money being exchanged for their child abuses initiatives.  That's the difference between the privacy invasions of Google and Facebook and the things that Apple are doing, Apple do not profit, they are not profiling you, they are not using your data in any way that advantages themselves.  The "privacy invasions" of Apple amount to checking that you aren't committing a heinous crime, and when a piece of on-device code that exists solely for that purpose determines that you aren't, you go on your way, totally unaffected. 

    I wonder how many of those complaining about this privacy invasiveness are fully in favour of stop and frisk policies.  Now that's invasiveness.
    I think your post is closest to truth so far in this thread. 

    People seem confused about the difference between:

    1. protecting private data from criminals and corporations
    2. protecting private data from governments

    Apple is unambiguously all in on #1, with Facebook being the polar opposite -- willing to sell your data to the highest bidder.

    No company can credibly pull off #2. Every company must follow the laws of the countries in which they operate or face existential consequences. If you don't like what your government is asking a company to do, then you need to complain to your government. 
    pscooter639secondkox2roundaboutnowAlex_V
  • Reply 17 of 34
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 2,488member
    rcfa said:
    Why does he always look like he is praying?
    Because the “woke” are the neo-puritans.
    “Wokeness” is a secular religion, hence the praying…
    they say ignorance is bliss, but often the ignorant seem pretty cranky to me. 
    roundaboutnowAlex_V
  • Reply 18 of 34
    crowley said:

    At the very least, when you sell people out, be honest about it. 
    Apple aren't selling out.  There is no money being exchanged for their child abuses initiatives …  The "privacy invasions" of Apple amount to checking that you aren't committing a heinous crime, and when a piece of on-device code that exists solely for that purpose determines that you aren't, you go on your way, totally unaffected…
    Culturally speaking, ‘selling out’ is a term used when someone disregards integrity, morals, etc. for some superficial gain. Money is not the only potential gain.

    This ‘privacy invasion’ by Apple which you effectively describe as petty, is the equivalent of a door manufacturer implementing some technology into the front door you purchased for your house so they can easily send in a robot to scan your personal belongings for any child sex imagery.

    Your government is not filled with basically good people who usually have your best interests at heart. The majority of people in government, however well intentioned, are driven by power. You think any humble person has ever become President? Just the desire to be president is the desire for power. Our privacy rights need to be fiercely protected even when they don’t make sense, because there are people who will fight to get more power.
    elijahgdanox
  • Reply 19 of 34
    crowleycrowley Posts: 9,113member
    georgie01 said:
    crowley said:

    At the very least, when you sell people out, be honest about it. 
    Apple aren't selling out.  There is no money being exchanged for their child abuses initiatives …  The "privacy invasions" of Apple amount to checking that you aren't committing a heinous crime, and when a piece of on-device code that exists solely for that purpose determines that you aren't, you go on your way, totally unaffected…
    Culturally speaking, ‘selling out’ is a term used when someone disregards integrity, morals, etc. for some superficial gain. Money is not the only potential gain.

    This ‘privacy invasion’ by Apple which you effectively describe as petty, is the equivalent of a door manufacturer implementing some technology into the front door you purchased for your house so they can easily send in a robot to scan your personal belongings for any child sex imagery.

    Your government is not filled with basically good people who usually have your best interests at heart. The majority of people in government, however well intentioned, are driven by power. You think any humble person has ever become President? Just the desire to be president is the desire for power. Our privacy rights need to be fiercely protected even when they don’t make sense, because there are people who will fight to get more power.
    Why did you cut out the bit where I said "Apple do not profit, they are not profiling you, they are not using your data in any way that advantages themselves"?  That should have made it very clear that I wasn't solely talking about profit.  So what gain, superficial or otherwise do you think Apple are getting from this?

    I can't see where I described anything as petty in this thread here, so not sure what you're talking about there.  In any case, I'm not really interested in bogus equivalences and dodgy analogies.  What Apple are doing is not what you describe, it is what it is.

    My government has little to do with Apple making decisions about their own software.  And my government doesn't have a President either.  Your cynicism doesn't convince me of anything.

    fastasleeproundaboutnow
  • Reply 20 of 34
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 5,840member
    schmrtzzz said:
    Well Tim, then you know what to do. Abandon the utterly stupid idea of invading every single iPhone out there. It's like declaring every user is guilty of spreading child porn unless the Apple-jury finds otherwise. It's unlawfull and a breach of every human rights-treaty. I'm a longtime shareholder but I sincerely hope the EU will ban every Apple-product with this feature, as it should. I'm shocked and appaled 'my' Apple (been a fan for 34 years) has been working actively on an ludicrous feature like this. 
    Such rampant hyperbole around here. Nobody is invading anything. Nobody is declaring everyone guilty. There is no jury making that decision. It’s completely lawful and has nothing to do with human rights treaties (lol what?). The EU isn’t banning anything. Ludicrous my ass, meanwhile every other digital service provider is doing practically the exact same thing. 
    pscooter63roundaboutnowAlex_V
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