Tim Cook attacks Google, U.S. federal government over right to privacy abuses

“Apple chief executive Tim Cook has heavily criticised tech companies which attempt to monetise customer data for advertising purposes, saying such a trade comes at ‘a very high cost,'” Rhiannon Willams reports for The Telegraph. “While Cook did not explicitly identify the companies, his assertion that some of Silicon Valley’s most prominent and successful companies ‘have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information’ can be read as referring to Facebook and Google, who use targeted advertising and store vast amounts of user data.”

“Speaking by video link during EPIC’s Champions of Freedom event in Washington upon being honoured by the research centre for corporate leadership, Cook said he and his team at Apple firmly believed customers should not have to compromise between privacy and security,” Willams reports. “‘We can, and we must provide both in equal measure,” he said. “‘We believe that people have a fundamental right to privacy. The American people demand it, the constitution demands it, morality demands it.'”

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. They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetise it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be… 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. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, June 2, 2015

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We agree 100% with everything Cook is saying, but the fact remains, that far too many people simply don’t get it and Apple should respond by making their services more attractive via better features* and more competitive prices or they will lose customers to Google in photo management and storage.

Cook doth protest much, likely because he sees paying iCloud photo storage accounts being closed in the wake of Google’s Photos launch.

Hey, Tim: If Google is so bad, why is it still the default search engine on any of your products?

*Google Photos is creepy and we’d never use it due to massive privacy concerns, but our tests have shown that it can automatically create interesting, fun, and coherent animations, collages and more with aplomb; in fact, Apple should be embarrassed. Hopefully, this spurs Apple to do a much better job with their own photo services. Start copying some of these features, Apple. We’d love to use them in a safe, secure environment where our photos aren’t being mined for marketing data.


The price you’ll pay for Google’s ‘free’ photo storage – June 3, 2015
Apple CEO Tim Cook champions privacy, blasts ‘so-called free services’ – June 3, 2015
Passing on Google Photos for iOS: Read the fine print before you sign up for Google’s new Photos service – June 1, 2015
Why Apple’s Photos beats Google Photos, despite price and shortcomings – May 30, 2015
Is Apple is losing the photo wars? – May 29, 2015
How Google aims to delve deeper into users’ lives – May 29, 2015
Apple CEO Cook: Unlike some other companies, Apple won’t invade your right to privacy – March 2, 2015
Survey: People trust U.S. NSA more than Google – October 29, 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook ups privacy to new level, takes direct swipe at Google – September 18, 2014
Apple will no longer unlock most iPhones, iPads for government, police – even with search warrants – September 18, 2014
U.S. NSA watching, tracking phone users with Google Maps – January 28, 2014
U.S. NSA secretly infiltrated Yahoo, Google data centers worldwide, Snowden documents say – October 30, 2013
Google has already inserted some U.S. NSA code into Android – July 10, 2013
Court rules NSA doesn’t have to reveal its semi-secret relationship with Google – May 22, 2013
Edward Snowden’s privacy tips: ‘Get rid of Dropbox,” avoid Facebook and Google – October 13, 2014


      1. I hope that statement is missing a /s (sarcasm) tag. Otherwise, am I to understand a political label overrides an actual personal quality of someone? In other words, we don’t care about the person, as long as his political affiliation is “correct”…?

        1. Welcome to America in 2015. Sadly, I don’t believe Howie was being sarcastic. Unintentionally ironic maybe, but I think he really is that blindly partisan.

        2. I don’t know about Howie’s intent – sarcastic or not – but the political label seems to be all too important to many people here in the U.S., and “Independent” is generally not a viable option if you want to raise funds and actually win an election.

        3. You’re absolutely right Predrag. Since Cook probably won’t run, I only know of one candidate who tends to agree with him regularly especially on this issue and that’s Rand Paul. Never mind the label, the issue is what matters.

    1. Yeah, nothing will intimidate our global enemies or do us more good than a lisping fruit whose primary goal as POTUS would be to do away with our American Freedoms and replace them with even more leftwing tyrannical crap.

  1. “Cook doth protest much, likely because he sees paying iCloud photo storage accounts being closed in the wake of Google’s Photos launch.”

    MDN’s take is shallow and wrong… I beleive he is acting out of true conviction and principle.

      1. Agreed. I’m not jumping ship for Google’s photo service, but I’m also not paying $20/mo for the service level I’d need to have my photos on iCloud.

        For now, I’ll just use the free service level to sync screen saver photos, and that’s it.

  2. Have you been ‘Googled’?

    ‘Googled’ once meant to find relevant information through a search of web pages using the Google search engine by the user.

    ‘Googled’ now means to have all personal user data mined, as a result of Google web searches or use of Google apps, and be targeted by ads relevant to the personal information gleaned through such searches and use of apps, and have such information sold to 3rd parties.

    If you use Google search or apps, you’ve been ‘Googled’!

    You’re not using Google.
    Google is using you.


    1. I remember reading a statement from Google’s Eric Schmidt that went something like… everyone has a right to whatever info is on the internet, there is no such thing as privacy…. this was shortly before the advent of Google Glass… Yeah, y’all go right ahead.

  3. Even if you avoid using Google’s services yourself, if you connect with anyone who does, part of you gets swept up by the data miners, and you become a node on Google’s vast personality map. In the war to remain free from surveillance, you are collateral damage.

    1. Very likely your contact info (name, address, phone, maybe even birthday) has already been mined, simply by being in someone else’s contacts list. Then you’re just one “allow app to access contacts?” away from having that info out there, and the chances that *all* of your contacts deny access to *every* app that requests that, is about 0%.

      1. I just Googled myself by name and city I live in. In less than thirty seconds of browsing results, I have all of the information you mention plus my father’s name, my wife’s name, my children’s names, the exact model of car I drive (complete with VIN), and my salary. Yeah, don’t believe ANYTHING to be private anymore!

  4. Information is a drug.
    Free stuff is a drug.

    You can’t blame our current situation, because we are hooked on endorphins generated by these things. The best solution is to not participate in the freemium market, with hidden costs.

    I think, along the lines of original Radio/TV advertisement, trial and error sales results should be the sole method of data collection of consumer information. The US government should give the people ownership of the activities they perform on-line. You generate the data, it belongs to you, unless you sign a waver.

  5. Dear citizens of the free and civilized world, here we see the last vestige of common sense from a nation that has lost the plot and that now believes that they are above the law. This is why Apple is so important right now, it represents what that nation once was, great ideals with great delivery.

    It’s a good start when speaking about privacy and security “We can, and we must provide both in equal measure,” he said. “We believe that people have a fundamental right to privacy. The American people demand it, the constitution demands it, morality demands it.”

    I hope Tim Cook can expand his horizons to see the bigger picture. Anyone who believes and states that people have a fundamental right to privacy and security should be able to connect it to the people of the world demanding it, that it’s beyond any nation’s people, beyond any piece of national constitution, and falls into the realm of global morality and global security.

    Let’s hope this happens soon, because the dark immoral thunder cloud that covers this nation will flood the nation with karma that is going to be such a bitch. Of course it’s always when it is darkest that the star of hope shines brightest so there is always hope, but not much time to act.

  6. Exactly how did Hilary Rosen end up as a host at an EPIC event? She of the RIAA, consulting for damage control for BP after they terminally polluted the Gulf of Mexico with their oil spill, BFF of Hilary Clinton- War Hawk Supreme?

    Did she get religion of has EPIC sold it’s soul?

  7. It’s a very promising sign that one of the leaders of the industry is becoming even more vocal about privacy concerns that should have been addressed years ago. Good for Tim Cook, good for Apple, good for us all.

  8. people on other sites keep saying “don’t be paranoid” , “I don’t care if Google or the government scans my Gmail, photos or get my internet search history”..


    I’m an artist.
    Some time back I was working on this ‘superhero’ illustration thing.
    I (foolishly) googled images of “muscular men” then refined it to “ages 20-35” for reference.
    Now I get ads that are vaguely gay related and ads like “foreigners want to date you”.
    Google AND it’s advertising partners think I’m a Gay Dude that gets his jollies looking at half naked men AND this Data (as far as I know) CANNOT be erased by me!
    (Look I got nothing against Gays, they never bothered me, but do I want to be labelled as such?)
    It’s lucky that I’m in the art business where it’s pretty liberal minded but think if I was in a conservative office with a Fundamentalist boss who is the Deacon of his Church and he saw the ‘ads’ on my computer!

    Now besides search Google is looking through PHOTOS.
    imagine you were hiking in Pakistan and for fun took some selfies with a masked muslim in a Turban and a AK 47 (actually a sheep farmer, masked against the dust and armed to guard his sheep from rustlers). Imagine also you have a girlfriend who is muslim (cute Egyptian co-ed) which they discovered reading your gmail (Google scans all gmails)…. What kind of conclusions would the NSA have… ? Maybe nothing will happen but they are building a profile and you which you can’t erase and the profile gets deeper. Imagine a few years later you innocently join the army (and your promotions keep getting blocked because unknown to you the NSA is feeding info to the brass that you’re a risk factor ).

    before people think I’m paranoid, a relative of mine works for the government and he gets routinely security screened (I know this as I have to fill in forms on MY activities for him — I can refuse of course but it would be bad for his promotions ).

    1. Wait, so you’re mad because Google has wrong data about you? I thought that Google (and spy agencies) having no correct information about you was the point of the privacy argument on MDN.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.