Apple's Tim Cook warns of "dire consequences" of sacrificing privacy for security

The Apple boss said people have entrusted the company with their most personal bits of information. "We owe them nothing less than the best protections we can possibly provide."

(Image: White House live stream/YouTube)

Apple chief executive Tim Cook said that there should not have to be a trade-off between national security and personal privacy.

In a speech as part of a cybersecurity summit hosted by The White House at Stanford University, the Apple boss said history has shown that sacrificing rights to privacy can have "dire consequences" on society.

"We risk something far more valuable than money. We risk our way of life," he said.

"We shouldn't have to trade our security for all of this information at our fingertips. When a system is designed properly, security and convenience can actually work in harmony," he added.

The summit is President Obama's opportunity to make the case for a collaborative approach to protecting private industry from cyberattacks at a cybersecurity summit at Stanford University.

Obama signed an executive order Friday allowing private companies and technology firms to share more cyber-threat data with each other and government agencies. It comes in the wake of recent high profile hacks against Sony Pictures and health insurance firm Anthem.

But Cook was the only Silicon Valley chief executive to attend the cybersecurity summit, with leaders from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Facebook choosing to send senior security executives in their places -- possibly because of continued anger over historical government intrusions into their systems.

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Cook's critique comes almost two years after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden disclosed wide-ranging domestic surveillance programs that tapped data from Silicon Valley companies. Apple was named in the leaked slides that detailed the PRISM surveillance program.

"Our customers' trust means everything to us. And we've spent decades earning that trust," Cook said.

He also reiterated the company's business model is not focused on collecting user data or selling that information to advertisers or third-parties.

"We know hackers are trying everything they can to steal your data," Cook said. "The personal impact on these breaches can be devastating."

In other news, Cook -- signaling a thawing of relations with the government -- said Apple Pay will later this year allow mobile payments from federal institutions, like national parks.