Apple CEO Tim Cook Calls for Stronger Privacy Regulations Following 'Dire' Facebook Data Scandal

Apple CEO Tim Cook attended the annual China Development Forum in Beijing on Saturday, during which he called for stronger data privacy regulations following the "dire" Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal (via Bloomberg). Last week, it was revealed that the social network let Cambridge Analytica amass data on 50 million Facebook users without their consent, in an effort to target messages to voters during the 2016 presidential election.

Photo of Tim Cook by Giulia Marchi via Bloomberg

On the topic, Cook called for "well-crafted regulation" to protect users:
“I think that this certain situation is so dire and has become so large that probably some well-crafted regulation is necessary,” Cook said after being asked if the use of data should be restricted in light of the Facebook incident. “The ability of anyone to know what you’ve been browsing about for years, who your contacts are, who their contacts are, things you like and dislike and every intimate detail of your life -- from my own point of view it shouldn’t exist.”
Cook went on by stating that Apple has "worried for a number of years" that something like the recent Facebook data scandal might happen. "Unfortunately that prediction has come true more than once," he said.
“We’ve worried for a number of years that people in many countries were giving up data probably without knowing fully what they were doing and that these detailed profiles that were being built of them, that one day something would occur and people would be incredibly offended by what had been done without them being aware of it,” he said. “Unfortunately that prediction has come true more than once.”
A #DeleteFacebook campaign arose quickly on Twitter following news of Cambridge Analytica's actions, which WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton took part in. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made an official statement on the events this past week, saying that the company has "a responsibility to protect your data," and that if it can't "then we don't deserve to serve you." He continued, "We also made mistakes, there's more to do, and we need to step up and do it."

Repercussions have begun to hit Facebook, including a lawsuit from Facebook shareholder Fan Yuan, who alleged the company had some knowledge of Cambridge Analytica's data siphoning and made "materially false and/or misleading" claims regarding Facebook's handling of user data. The first step Facebook has taken to attempt to address the issue is a new tool at the top of the News Feed which will let people see which apps have their info and offer up an easy way to revoke permissions.

In other topics at the Beijing forum on Saturday, Tim Cook also briefly touched upon the recent decision by President Trump to place tariffs on Chinese goods. Although the details on the tariffs have yet to be finalized by the U.S. government, Cook said: "The countries that embrace openness do exceptional and the countries that don't, don't...It's not a matter of carving things up between sides. I'm going to encourage that calm heads prevail."

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.



Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
13 months ago
How about removing integration with FaceBook from macOS, Tim?

Ten years ago I said that FaceBook was the worst invention the 21st century. Now ten years later, people are realizing that the thousands of hours of their lives they have wasted on FaceBook have been methodically harvested and organized into actionable data. So, it's a double whammy: folks have wasted thousands of hours and have turned themselves into a product that FaceBook is now marketing and selling to the highest bider. The sad part is that this cannot be undone.
Rating: 25 Votes
Avatar
13 months ago
Does that mean he is now willing to walk his talk and pull back iCloud data from the hands of the Chinese?
Rating: 16 Votes
Avatar
13 months ago

Does that mean he is now willing to walk his talk and pull back iCloud data from the hands of the Chinese?


“From my American mindset, I believe strongly in freedom. They are at the core of what being an American is. But I also know that every country in the world decides their laws and regulations,” Cook said at the Fortune Global Forum in China in December in front of an audience of business executives from around the world.

“Your choice is—do you participate, or do you stay on the sideline and yell how things should be? My view is that you show up and you participate, because nothing ever changes from sidelines,” Cook said.


While the situation is obviously not ideal in China, I think he's in the right here. You need to have a seat at the table if you want to have that discussion.

I'm really glad to hear he's made a statement about this. Apple should be recognized for the way they fight for user privacy and reform when possible. Cook seems to have been particularly active in taking up that seat in the US recently, actively engaging with senators and making appearances in Washington. This is the kind of discussion we need to have and this kind of leadership is commendable IMO.
Rating: 14 Votes
Avatar
13 months ago
Despite the naysayers, Apple’s strong focus on privacy will be good for their business, in the long run.
Rating: 10 Votes
Avatar
13 months ago
Give people information. They can decide if they want to delete Facebook. Facebook is voluntary and people need to understand they are putting their lives on the Internet if they so choose. More government regulation/control isn’t the answer. When people start leaving Facebook change will happen.

Tim Cook should understand this better than anyone. People trust Apple because Apple goes above and beyond with privacy and the government didn’t make them do that.
Rating: 10 Votes
Avatar
13 months ago

How about removing integration with FaceBook from macOS, Tim?

Agreed. Crap like that doesn't belong in an OS, let lone macOS.
Rating: 9 Votes
Avatar
13 months ago
If you have a Google account you can go in and they have control panels that allow you to see a shocking and impressive amount of data that they have recorded and collected on you, including all voice commands to Google Assistant on your account and you can delete it all. You can also modify or turn off the collection of location or searches.

The problem is there is no way to be sure turning off all of that stuff turns it off for Google or just blocks it from your sight. They were caught collecting location data on phones that had location tracking turned off, so there is that to consider.

Another problem is that as you start using various functions on their apps or others that connect to your Google account, more data collection gets turned on. Even if it needs your permission and can be deleted later, it is more work than most people want to bother with to use Google's granular controls to delete and turn it all off again.

So, the path of least resistance is always going to be the default of allowing some data collection. In return I do get services and features that work incredibly well.

Facebook is different in that they were annoying and all of their shenanigans sabotaged the good things I joined to enjoy in the first place. By the time I left them I saw no benefit to FB whatsoever.

During the run up to the last US Presidential election, I saw friends fighting tooth and nail over fake news. I got emotionally exhausted messaging everyone to tell them that they were getting all worked up over stories about things that never happened or that were grossly distorted from legitimate news stories. Don't get me started on the proliferation of inaccurate and biased memes.

I saw lifelong friendships disintegrate on Facebook. It was frustrating seeing the manipulation take place and being able to wake up only a few friends about it. I saw otherwise intelligent friends lose their ever loving minds over the dreck that floated through the FB feeds. It was like watching some horrid social experiment conducted by psychopaths masquerading as scientists.

Very, very few people seemed able to stay the course and use FB as a simple vechicle for staying in touch via sharing of pictures and videos and a few snippets of updates on themselves. Too much came at us that was designed to inflame and draw out commentary and activism.
Rating: 8 Votes
Avatar
13 months ago

Correction, Apple's public narrative on privacy will be good for it's image. Behind the scenes however, they'll continue to do what they've always done which is anything but a strong focus on privacy.


I agree with this. If they really cared, they’d enable settings for maximum possible privacy on their products by default, but they don’t.

I regularly reset the advertising ID on iOS, which is a fairly hidden and cumbersome setting to access. This shouldn’t be necessary. Apple should regularly randomise advertising ID in iOS software at least once daily by default. An advertising ID is itself merely an identifier for the sole purpose of tracking users. They should move away from it entirely.

That’s just the beginning. They don’t even enable the hopelessly ineffective “Ask Websites Not To Track Me” setting by default, and there’s a whole host of other things they could do, like stop using Google as their default search provider. I commend them for finally offering Safari content blocking on iOS, but this needs to be expanded system-wide without the need for slow VPNs.

Most of what Apple says publicly is marketing and spin. Apple are better than most, but they can’t claim to be all-in on privacy when even basic and limited front-line defences are switched off by default.

All forms of tracking users should be opt-in, not opt-out!
Rating: 6 Votes
Avatar
13 months ago
Years ago Tim gave a speech railing against the user data-as-product business model of Silicon Valley, with the implied target being Google. Then we found out a few years later that Apple receives billions of dollars a year from Google to make Google the default search engine on Safari. I wonder how many years from today we'll find out Apple receives billions of dollars a year from Facebook for their integration into iOS. Hypocrite much Tim?
Rating: 6 Votes
Avatar
13 months ago
How quaint. Apparently China authorities are willing to let Mr. Cook make public comments about personal data privacy—as long as Apple effectively hands over the keys to all Chinese iCloud accounts.
Rating: 5 Votes
[ Read All Comments ]