Tim Cook says privacy 'one of the top issues of the century'
in General Discussion edited January 2021
Speaking with Fast Company, Cook placed privacy on the same echelon as dire worldwide problems such as climate change.
"In terms of privacy -- I think it is one of the top issues of the century," Cook said. "We've got climate change -- that is huge. We've got privacy -- that is huge. . . . And they should be weighted like that and we should put our deep thinking into that and to decide how can we make these things better and how do we leave something for the next generation that is a lot better than the current situation."
He went on to illustrate the importance of data privacy tools like Apple's upcoming App Tracking Transparency feature. Due for release this spring, the new affordance will opt users out of ad tracking by default and require developers to ask permission before leveraging tracking technology.
Threats by law enforcement agencies and governments to weaken end-to-end encryption are also a worry.
"I try to get somebody to think about what happens in a world where you know that you're being surveilled all the time. What changes do you then make in your own behavior? What do you do less of? What do you not do anymore? What are you not as curious about anymore if you know that each time you're on the web, looking at different things, exploring different things, you're going to wind up constricting yourself more and more and more and more? That kind of world is not a world that any of us should aspire to.
And so I think most people, when they think of it like that . . . start thinking quickly about, Well, what am I searching for? I look for this and that. I don't really want people to know I'm looking at this and that, because I'm just curious about what it is' or whatever. So it's this change of behavior that happens that is one of the things that I deeply worry about, and I think that everyone should worry about it."
"You know, I'm a big believer in encryption-- in end-to-end encryption with no back doors-- and so I do worry about anyone trying to break that in any kind of way or weaken it in any kind of way," Cook said.
Cook was also asked to comment on "Big Tech," a term synonymous with companies like Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook, firms that have become a political punching bag over the past few years for their pervasive presence in everyday life. The executive cautioned against "broad-brush categorization" and encourages people to judge each company individually based on business model, conduct and values.
On artificial intelligence, a technology that Tesla founder Elon Musk believes will be the downfall of humanity, Cook seemed less than concerned.
"I think both of those can be used for bad things and can be amplified by technology," Cook said of AI and privacy. "And so which one is above the other one? I don't know. I would say we can't let ourselves just choose one of those two to focus on. We have to have ethical AI, just like we have to have ethical data privacy and data collection. There's an intersection of those two as well, right? Both are paramount and have to be worked on."
The Apple chief retread ground covered in today's speech presented to at the European Computers, Privacy & Data Protection (CPDP) conference, from technology's role in fostering ideological extremism to privacy legislation like the European Union's GDPR.
The very existence of social media shows just how much people like to speak. People are wanting to speak so badly that they willingly use FaceBook despite the data privacy concerns that Apple has touted. The desire to speak freely, both in terms of being "without restraint" and "free of charge," is only going to increase as overbearing moderation and deplatforming increases.
Free speech always comes with risks, but in the end that freedom is worth it. Having free speech and the freedom to choose to opt in or out of ad tracking and data sharing are both very necessary.
Freedom of speech is only guaranteed by the constitution in so much that it prohibits government institutions (Big Brother) from censoring citizens, within certain limitations. Private institutions (Big Tech) do not guarantee such freedoms and do not have to. You cannot have it both ways, less moderation without increased protections from being held liable. That would spell the end these private social networks. Moderation is completely necessary to keep conversations civil and make sure they remain on point.
Ad tracking is a necessary evil of advertising, abuse of it has become the main problem. Whether a user opts in or out does not prevent this from continuing. But what Apple is trying to do is force developers to be more transparent about what and how user data is being used to track them. The user is then free to make an informed decision to continue to use that app, or service, or website, or whatever.
And the moment the new feature is available it gets turned on. I pay plenty for my internet connectivity and for content via subscriptions- advertisers and data miners can go to hell. I hate intrusive advertising, which is most of it.
And Facebook has no ground to stand on. They could go away tomorrow and I do not think the world would be a worse place because of it.
Beyond threats of violence, I understand the frustration with moderation. But as everyone says, these are platforms created by private companies, not the government. So the expectation that you can do anything you like on a privately owned platform is unrealistic. Especially when it's on public display. Usually you can say anything you like in DMs/private messages (aside from violent threats), but once you post it publicly for everyone to see, then you're subject to moderation. It's not so different from being able to have crude or defamatory posters displayed in your home, but not on publicly displayed billboards.
People tend to think that if they have nothing to hide, then they have nothing to lose in sharing their data. What they don't appreciate is that their data is being used to manipulate and control them.
You also argued, as if from a lawyer's standpoint, about "liability." That's somewhat beside the point if we accept that free speech is a fundamental human right. Shall a fundamental human right be crushed due to liability concerns? Many legalistically-minded people, lawyers, judges and even some courts may scream yes, but the rest of humanity may not, nor should they. And if one then argues that one need only switch social media companies to keep their speech rights intact, one must then consider how alternative social media platforms are either too biased for some or being undermined by the likes of Amazon so they cannot exist at all. So to say, "if you feel your speech is suppressed in one place, just go somewhere else where it's not suppressed" is not as easy as it sounds.
The argument about moderation being "completely necessary" is yet another attempt to defend the status quo of selectively crushing speech. For example, what topic in this world is NOT "disputed"? Answer... None. Nada. Zero. We all know that. Well, all but the Social Media Fact Checkers. Fact Checkers hired by Big Social Media selectively and with tremendous bias slap such labels on speech they consider, in their bias, worthy of that label even though that label technically would apply to every single topic discussed by humanity anywhere.
You and I can debate and dispute anything. In fact, we are doing it right now. Therefore, to be unbiased in labelling would mean to either slap that "disputed" label on all speech (which is completely ridiculous and insane), or avoid using it altogether (which is more sensible and is what we used to do). Because of strong bias, the very "moderation" you defend is called into question. The fact that "the law" may require moderation for liability reasons is a separate issue that should not undermine our fundamental human rights.
My line of argument is not about me arguing against moderation in general but rather arguing against the increase of biased moderation which did not exist in years past. The lockdown on free speech has been unprecedented in its expansion and reach over the last year, but even more so after the Capitol riots. We need to observe and admit that, not gloss it over with a general defense of moderation. The attacks on free speech are still attacks even if one wishes to argue that "false information" or "hate speech" has been on the increase and needed some kind of reasoned response. The attacks on free speech still need to be admitted by all of us, even if the speech under most attack is the speech you personally disagree with. I am arguing that "moderated response" is in many cases a biased attack on free speech. That attack on free speech is the greater wrong insofar as free speech is the same fundamental human right as privacy. Again, "rights" are inherent to us and transcend human law. Law merely observes and codifies rights with the aim of protecting them. But human law is only as perfect as the people who create the laws, as opposed to rights which exist regardless of the perfection or imperfection of the rights holder.
I would also say that one cannot be a true defender of free speech until one can defend the very speech they hate. Freedom is the same. One cannot be a true defender of individual liberty until they afford their neighbor more liberty than they afford themselves.
So who wins when it comes to free speech? Not always the speaker. The winner typically is whoever holds the reigns of power at any given time, interpreting human-made laws using their own set of biases and political leanings to limit whatever speech they deem "inappropriate."
The more laws you have and the more complex the laws, the more convoluted the rights of citizens become and the less personal freedom those citizens have overall, even if one contends those laws came into being to protect the said rights and freedom of citizens in general. There is much more risk to having fewer laws but also much more freedom too. I say that if we as Americans err, let us err on the side of liberty, not legalism.
Ad tracking is only an evil in the eye of the beholder. I am not defending or deriding it. As mentioned in my previous post, most people continue to use Social Media like FaceBook BECAUSE IT IS FREE, even in the knowledge that some of their private details are being used and abused. Sure, most people don't know to what extent it is being used and abused by FaceBook, but they remain on FaceBook nonetheless. When privacy advocates like Apple start getting into specifics, only then do FaceBook and Social Media users start to grow concerned, BUT they are not suddenly leaving social media in droves! Why not? BECAUSE IT IS FREE. Really, it boils down to that. So those same people are hoping Apple can help them out while keeping their beloved social media FREE OF CHARGE. If the price tag changes from FREE to $1/month or anything but FREE, people will then change and switch to alternatives that continue to be free, even if those alternatives do some shady things with personal data. We're talking about human nature here.
It's at this point one could wonder if someone using a FREE service has a right to complain about that service regarding any matter. Can a FREE user of FaceBook complain that Zuckerberg slapped a "Disputed" label on their post (which again, is ridiculous because every topic is technically disputed) and at the same time complain that Zuckerberg is using their personal data inappropriately when it comes to ad tracking?
If indeed "Privacy" and "Free Speech" are both fundamental human rights, it could be effectively argued that complaints lodged against FaceBook are legitimate despite the fact the service is FREE. However, people tend to complain about nearly everything all the time, so complaints should be handled with that reality in mind. The point here is, do those complainers have a right to FORCE change on FREE social media platforms in response to things the complainers dislike about social media platforms?
In the case of Ad Tracking, that forced change is indirect insofar as Apple is doing it, not FaceBook. It's external strong-arming. So if that external use of power is deemed legitimate, one could then argue the same about indirectly forcing Social Media companies to unchain (and unlabel) speech. But "arguing" is all it would amount to because there is no way for an iPhone or Mac to magically remove silly "disputed" labels on posts or prevent the deletion of posts FaceBook deems unworthy of existing or unban users for having used their inherent speech rights tad too freely.
All said, once Apple makes it's ad tracking transparency changes, free speech will definitely become the less protected "fundamental human right," thereby catapulting Free Speech the "Top Issue of the Century."
BLM is a violent, radical Marxist organization that has been directly responsible (along with Antifa) for literal billions of dollars of damages and numerous deaths nationwide. Tim needs to be fired and apps like Parler need to be reinstated.
Tablets in business must handle DigitalDollar, DigitalEuro,DigitalYuan,etc.as well as blueprints & accounting reports & brilliant 8k holograms & AR all in realtime & easy....and oh yes, with music ,etc. and all connected to our neurons when needed. IMO the evil empire ,Facebook, will try to monopolize the whole organic sandwich or stew, so the trick is to build smarter chips ,imo.
The next wave of neuron tablets should be end-assembled in US+EU+JP+SKR+etc. to secure our free future , they will also be able to enter the backbone ,core, of viruses and put them to sleep or work productively instead of killing good cells since the deep nanoparticle energy running our neurons is the same energy running all SARSCOV2 variations.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That's it! I don't see anything about non-Governmental institutions being bound by the same restrictions.
If anything Tim is being generous to FB by allowing a user choice to be tracked or not (as I understand the latest situation), he could make it a no choice no track.