Apple's Tim Cook savages Google and Facebook for privacy failures

Apple's CEO blasted his Silicon Valley rivals that compromise and monetize customer data in exchange for free services
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer on

Apple's CEO Tim Cook was honored by Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) at its Champions of Freedom event in Washington last night. He spoke on privacy, security, and our right to encryption while referencing the US Constitution and quoting Abraham Lincoln.

Cook also launched his strongest attack yet on Silicon Valley rivals, criticizing advertising-supported business models that disregard user privacy.

TechCrunch provided several excerpts from Cook's speech to the attendees where he never specifically identified Google or Facebook, while calling them out for collecting and monetizing your personal data.

"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," said Cook. "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."

Tim Cook's speech comes following the launch of Google Photos, a service where Google provides you with free unlimited storage for all of your photos while indexing them so that you can easily search through your collection in various ways.

There is no specific privacy policy available for Google Photos. Google directs people to its global privacy policy that covers most Google services. If you dive in and read those details, it's disconcerting to see how much information they collect and what is shared with advertisers. Google states that they will seek consent to use your information for purposes other than what is set out in the privacy policy, but there is an overwhelming amount of detail set out in the privacy policy -- so who knows what is and what isn't going to be shared?

In exchange for the conveniences provided by various services, many people have given up trying to maintain privacy in today's connected world. Cook thinks it doesn't have to be that way:

We believe the customer should be in control of their own information. 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. And we think some day, customers will see this for what it is.

In his video talk to the Champions of Freedom event, Tim Cook also discussed encryption services. I honestly never thought much about iMessage and FaceTime as encrypted means of communication, but Mr. Cook made it clear these are services that are safe for consumers to use without Apple gathering any data from them.

We've heard Tim Cook talk about protecting customer privacy from government requests and providing high quality, and expensive, products while limiting the amount of data that is collected by Apple. As security and privacy concerns start to make the front pages, it's time for people to think a bit more about what they are sharing and with whom.

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