Apple CEO Tim Cook talks privacy, China and Alex Jones with VICE News

“Seven years into his tenure as Apple CEO, Tim Cook remains a popular guy, especially in an Apple store in New York, where he recently waded through a sea of adoring Apple fans pleading for selfies before he sat down with VICE News Tonight for an interview,” VICE News reports.

“This is partly because Cook’s competitors in Silicon Valley have set a low bar. Already under fire for being a tool for voter suppression and misinformation during the 2016 election, Facebook announced Friday that it had discovered the largest security breach in the company’s history, affecting 50 million users,” VICE News reports. “Cook said that kind of data breach won’t happen at Apple, because the personal data Apple collects stays locked on iPhones, and even Apple can’t access it. ‘We’re not in the business of building the detailed profile of you,’ Cook said. ‘The way we go into product design, we challenge ourselves to collect as little as possible. And when we have it, we challenge ourselves to encrypt it in the end.'”

“That has come at a cost to Apple’s business. Apple Music, for example, could build detailed profiles of users and sell that to advertisers, as competitors Spotify, Pandora, and Google Music do. But Cook considers that an affront to the basic promise of the Apple brand,” VICE News reports. “‘We don’t read your messages,’ he said. ‘These things, even in our heads, are offensive, right? To think about, these are private communications and intimate conversations that you are having. And so we wouldn’t even think about that.'”

Direct link to video here.

MacDailyNews Take: Quotes from Apple CEO Tim Cook:

I see privacy as one of the most important issues of the twenty-first century. We’re at a stage now where more information about you is online and on your phone than there is in your house… We [at Apple] take that very seriously. I’m not a pro-regulation kind of person. I believe in the free market. Deeply… [but] I think some level of government regulation is important to come out of that.

You are not our product.

The narrative that some companies will try to get you to believe is, “I’ve got to take all of your data to make my service better.” Well, don’t believe them. Whoever’s telling you that, it’s a bunch of bunk.

What users want from us, and what we’ve always provided them, is a curated platform, and that’s what we do. We don’t take a political stand. We’re not leaning one way or the other. You can tell that from the stuff on the App Store, in Podcasts, etc. You’ll see everything from very conservative to very liberal. And that’s they way I think it should be.

On the removal of Alex Jones’ content from Apple platforms: I don’t want to get into singular kind of event, but I think there’s enough there that reasonable people could agree that, if you’re going to curate, that that should be off.

In terms of power, I’ve never felt like I have any power. That’s not how I look and think about the world.

22 Comments

    1. Weak interviewer. She asked a couple of good questions but Tim just ignored the question and started reciting his script. She should have said, “Yeah, but give me some specific examples of how you put privacy over profit.” And when he still didn’t, say “You’re avoiding the question.”

      I love her introduction line about undermining “liberal democracy.” I doubt she even knows what liberal democracy is. She works for Vice which has become nothing another Huffington post.

  1. The trouble with Tim Cook is that he doesn’t quite understand human nature. Facebook users are totally addicted to social media and even if more data breaches occur, it is quite unlikely most Facebook users will delete their Facebook or Instagram accounts. Facebook users aren’t overly concerned about protecting personal data as they already know Facebook uses it and sells it to other companies.

    Even Wall Street doesn’t care about Facebook data breaches as there are plenty of buy ratings and high target prices for Facebook. Neither potential investors or shareholders are worried about Facebook being regulated. As long as there’s no drop in Facebook subscribers, plenty of money can still be made. That’s all that really matters. Facebook stock is up today and most analysts claim it will continue to rise for the remainder of the year.

    Apple seems overly concerned with privacy but they’re in the minority. Android OS dominates the world with 85% market share. Most Android users are only interested in free services which use all their personal data to make money. Almost no one really cares. Only Apple loses out because they’re not able to use personal data to turn into stacks of gold. Wall Street doesn’t give a damn about privacy as long as money can be made from personal data-mining. Intelligence agencies hate Apple for not allowing them to back-door iOS devices.

    Apple is rapidly losing out to Android devices as the poorer countries’ consumers go online with their $50 – $100 Android smartphones and go absolutely nuts using free social media services. They’ll all happily turn over their personal data for free services. I’m surprised Tim Cook doesn’t realize that. Government regulation isn’t going to happen because there’s so much money to be made in a free market.

    Zuckerberg always says he’s sorry between counting his growing pile of cash. Zuckerberg wins every time. He’s got to take all of your personal data to make more money for himself.

    1. Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should. By your logic, Apple and every other corporation should “win” by doing anything necessary to make more money, regardless of the negative impacts to society. I don’t know when people started thinking this way, but “maximizing shareholder value” does not have to mean and should not be interpreted to mean “at any cost.”

      I highly appreciate the Apple culture when it comes to privacy, even if it ultimately costs the company money. In the long run, however, I am not convinced that it will cost Apple money. It may eventually be recognized as one of Apple’s primary differentiators with other large tech companies.

      Personally, the Apple culture with respect to privacy and security is one of the major reasons that I am a loyal advocate for Apple products and services. That means a whole lot to me.

    2. Apple may not have the market share dominance or make money from data. But what they do have is the gold standard of privacy protections and the first trillion dollar company…

  2. “We’ve always had a very different view of privacy than some of our colleagues in the valley. We take privacy extremely seriously. We worry a lot about location in phones, and we worry that some 14-year-old is going to get stalked, and something terrible is gonna happen because of our phone. As an example: before any app can get location data, we don’t make it a rule that they have to put up a panel and ask, because they might not follow that rule. They call our location services, and we put up the panel saying, “this app wants to use your location data is that okay with you” every time they want to use it. We do a lot of things like that to ensure that people understand what these apps are doing. That’s one of the reasons we have the curated App Store. We have rejected a lot of apps that want to take a lot of your personal data and suck it up into the cloud, a lot. A lot of people in the valley think we’re really old-fashioned about this, and maybe we are, but we worry about stuff like this. Privacy means people know what they’re signing up for in plain english and repeatedly, that’s what it means. I am an optimist I believe people are smart and some people want to share more data than other people do, ask them, ask them every time, make them tell you to stop asking them if they get tired of you asking them. Let them know precisely what you’re going to do with their data, that’s what we think.”

    source: “Steve Jobs: The Unauthorized Autobiography”

  3. Oh, the video is over produced; The producer of that video made so many cuts that they distract: Why this cut? Why that cut? The cuts themselves become a lot of the content.

    Is the music unnecessary post-production or is it Apple Store music? Why did they make Cook so robotic because I doubt that he’s like that normally.

  4. I see what you did there with the editorial “UNITED WE WIN” placement, Tim and/or VICE, (how could I miss it) but it was awfully transparent to those of us in the business. Try not to be so ham-handedly obvious next time, okay?

  5. The video was annoying.

    Background music, added to the questions and answers, is generally not a sign of professional news.

    The cuts reveal the producer does not respect the guest and maybe not the interviewer. They decided to give the viewers an “experience.”

    The questions were lame, also. The interviewer was star-struck or afraid to do real journalism work.

    Her capitulation to Tim regarding Alex Jones did not make either look good. Tim said “curate,” but this really was “censor” or “cast Alex Jones into oblivion at the same time Facebook and Twitter did.”

    This was not real news. More like those press junket tours which movie stars do in support of a movie.

  6. “I don’t want to get into singular kind of event, but I think there’s enough there that reasonable people could agree that, if you’re going to curate, that that should be off.”

    Of course you don’t want to get into a “singular event” because you created a firestorm with a singular event for playing partisan politics with Apple. What would Steve do?

    Alex Jones is an altar boy compared to the violent degrading rap talk that you choose to support and sell.

    This is all politics Tim, you would not dare to enforce the same standards on the leftist hate mongers you SUPPORT. They would not stand for it one minute and you know it.

    The easy path that pleases you and your supporters is to censor the right which you have already done. Unfortunately, not even handed and hypocritical because you enforce double standards. Until you are gone, nothing will change.

    Your security standards are second to none and make Apple the best there is in that regard…

    1. How about this for “enforcing the same standards?” Point out a leftist hate monger violent degrading rap artist who has–with Apple’s knowledge–successfully used the company to promote an attack on a specific named individual, knowing that his fans are likely to amplify the threats to the point that the target is forced to seek police protection and move multiple times.

      1. How about the stalking and harassment of Jeff Flake in the elevator coordinated with a CNN camera by paid protesters. How about the stalking and harassment of Mitch McConnel on the elevator. How about protestors stalking and harassing senators outside their homes.

        That’s all fine with you, RIGHT? …

        1. Petitioning one’s elected representatives concerning their public duties happens to be protected by the US Constitution… even if done rudely. Death threats against a private citizen aren’t. If you can’t tell the difference, I can’t explain it to you.

          1. “Petitioning one’s elected representatives concerning their public duties happens to be protected by the US Constitution.

            “Petitioning?” So now targeted stalking, threatening, harassing and making Republican representatives uncomfortable and fearing for their safety is petitioning?

            “Death threats against a private citizen aren’t.”

            Off topic, your MO…

            1. Off WHAT topic? You are the one who claimed that “Alex Jones is a choir boy” compared to some unnamed rapper who has been tolerated by Apple. I asked which rappers had used iTunes to target individual named persons for threats of physical violence by their fans. That is what Jones does. His MO is widely reported and I have personally witnessed it. You could not name the mythical rapper getting preferential treatment because he does not exist.

              YOU then changed the subject to nonviolent political protests that are clearly protected by at least three separate clauses in the First Amendment. We know they are protected because the courts have said so, in the context of pro-life protests outside the homes and offices of abortion doctors… who aren’t even public officials. If these Senators are “uncomfortable” (your word) with that, they need to get their fragile egos back home so that constitutionalists who still have their balls or ovaries can replace them.

              And, to repeat, your contempt for the Constitution is really not relevant to your criticism of Tim Cook.

            2. Reply to TXUser at 11:59 pm.

              “If these Senators are “uncomfortable” (your word) with that, they need to get their fragile egos back home so that constitutionalists who still have their balls or ovaries can replace them.”

              How insensitive of you! No surprise you do not support Republicans one particle, you NEVER did so in the past and why NEVER will.

              Harassing and targeting ONLY Republicans is just fine with you? Stalking them where they work is just fine with you? Threatening them is just fine with you? Posting their private home addresses and phone numbers on the internet for boxxing harassment where they live with their children is just fine with you? Good news, Shelia Jackson Lee intern is charged and now in jail for that crime.

              So lawmaker safety and freedoms to move freely without harassment is NOT supported by you if they are Republican, got it. They just need to grow a pair, right? That is as shameful and a new insensitive LOW for you. I won’t forget it.

              Did Alex Jones kill anyone? Did any of his supporters kill anyone? Did Jones supporters assault anyone? Answer, NO. So what is your point, offensive words? Grow up PC snowflake.

              If Jones supporters harassed people it is no different, again no different, than activists harassing, following and badgering Senators around Capitol Hill.

              So the same is true. What is good for the goose is good for the gander and then I agree with your words:

              “they need to get their fragile egos back home”…

            3. Like I said, if you can’t tell the difference between Apple’s right to control its private property and government officials’ “right” to suppress political protesters, I can’t explain it to you.

  7. Tim said the reason he eliminated Alex Jones from Apple’s platform is because the “people” want a curated platform.
    That is a very weak answer and quite dishonest. What the people want can literally be judged by the number of users.
    I like Tim. He is weak, though. Clearly a modern metropolitan kinda guy, he cannot possibly understand what it is that Alex Jones offers to the world… and hence his reason for eliminating him from the Apple platform.
    Eliminating Alex Jones was a big mistake. Tim will eventually come to understand that America is much larger than his corporate world.

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