Tim Cook Discusses Apple's Google Search Engine Deal, User Privacy, and 'Inevitable' Tech Regulation
Apple CEO Tim Cook appeared on HBO on Sunday in a pre-recorded interview with Axios, in which he discussed several issues including Apple's relationship with Google and the need for privacy regulations in the technology sector.
During the interview, which was conducted at Apple Park, Cook emphasized user privacy as a "core value" of Apple's that reaches way back to before smartphones had become a feature of people's daily lives.
It's not that it fits in with what we do, it's that this is a core value of ours. If you look back over time, we were talking about privacy well before iPhone, so we've always believed that privacy was at the core of our civil liberties. This is not a matter of privacy versus profits or privacy versus technical innovation. That's a false choice. What we've done is, your device has incredible intelligence about you, but I don't have to have all of that as a company.
Given Apple's policy on user data privacy, Cook was then asked by Axios reporters why he was comfortable taking billions of dollars from Google to make it Apple's default search engine. Cook responded to the question by highlighting the additional security and privacy measures that its Safari browser provides.
I think [Google's] search engine is the best. Look at what we've done with the controls we've built in. We have private web browsing, we have intelligent tracker prevention. What we've tried to do is come up with ways to help our users through their course of the day. It's not a perfect thing – I'd be the first person to say that – but it goes a long way to helping.
Google paid Apple nearly $3 billion in 2017 to remain as the default search engine on iPhones and iPads, according to U.S. research and brokerage firm Bernstein. Apple's iOS devices are said to contribute about 50 percent to Google's mobile search revenue.
Elsewhere in the interview, Cook covered the issue of government regulation of user privacy, saying he was "not a big fan of regulation" but a "big believer" in the free market. "But we have to admit when the free market's not working, and it hasn't worked here," Cook admitted. "I think it's inevitable that there will be some level of regulation."
Cook has called for "well-crafted" government regulation in the past, most recently following the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which the latter amassed data on 50 million Facebook users without their consent.
Cook was also asked by Axios whether he was concerned about the male-dominated culture in the tech industry. The Apple CEO said he thought Silicon Valley had been open and accepting to many different people from different walks of life, but that when it came to gender, the Valley had "missed it" and so had the technology industry in general.
"We spend a lot of time on this and we're constantly asking ourselves how we can improve more and listening to what our folks tell us, and I believe others are doing that too," Cook said. "I'm actually encouraged at this point that there will be a marked improvement over time."
Cook also revealed in interview that his daily routine involves rising just before 4:00 a.m. each morning, reading through user comments for an hour, and then heading to the gym for an hour, which helps him "keep stress at bay."
The full HBO interview has yet to be made available online, but we'll post a link in this article if and when it does.
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