Apple CEO Tim Cook: Privacy is 'One of the Top Issues of the Century'

Apple CEO Tim Cook this morning spoke at the virtual Computers, Privacy, and Data Protection conference where he discussed Facebook's business model and Apple's upcoming enforcement of App Tracking Transparency, and afterwards, he elaborated on some of his speech in an interview with Fast Company.

tim cook data privacy day
Cook said that privacy is "one of the top issues of the century" and that it's important to put "deep thinking" into that to figure out how to "leave something for the next-generation that is a lot better than the current situation." Cook said privacy "should be weighted" like climate change, another huge issue the world is facing.

On the topic of why people should care about their privacy, even when there's nothing to hide, Cook said that he tries to get people to think about living in a world of constant surveillance, something that Apple did this morning with the release of a document called "A Day in the Life of Your Data" that details how third-party companies track user data across websites and apps.

"What changes do you then make in your own behavior? What do you do less of? What do you not do anymore? What are you not as curious about anymore if you know that each time you're on the web, looking at different things, exploring different things, you're going to wind up constricting yourself more and more and more and more? That kind of world is not a world that any of us should aspire to.

"And so I think most people, when they think of it like that ... start thinking quickly about, 'Well, what am I searching for? I look for this and that. I don't really want people to know I'm looking at this and that, because I'm just curious about what it is' or whatever. So it's this change of behavior that happens that is one of the things that I deeply worry about, and I think that everyone should worry about it.

Cook also pointed out that not all "Big Tech" companies are the the same, and he said that he worries about the "broad-brush categorization" of giving major companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple all one label. "I try to encourage people to think a level deeper than that and think about the companies themselves and their business models and how they conduct themselves, and so on and so forth--what their values are," he said.

Cook was asked about whether he thinks artificial intelligence is a threat and how it ranks compared to privacy, and he said that "both of those" can be used negatively and can be "amplified by technology." Cook said that ethical AI, and ethical data privacy and data collection are both important issues that "have to be worked on."

Fast Company's full interview with Cook also touches on technology and extremism, privacy legislature and regulation, and the future of privacy in tech, and it's well worth a read.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News 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

Average Pro Avatar
11 weeks ago
Thank you Apple.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zakarhino Avatar
11 weeks ago
I agree Tim, now put your money where your mouth is and encrypt iCloud backups; invest in building a new iCloud infrastructure that implements a zero trust encryption scheme for email, files, etc.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Unity451 Avatar
11 weeks ago

Cook said privacy "should be weighted" like climate change, another huge issue the world is facing.
While I appreciate Apple's stance on privacy, especially when compared to the likes of Google and Facebook, the arbitrary insertion of other polarizing, political issues, which couldn't be more different... well I could do without that.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
IG88 Avatar
11 weeks ago
In the case of Facebook....I don't view it as merely a privacy issue. Facebook's engagement algorithms have blown way past just being a privacy concern. They're neck deep into manipulating people's thoughts & emotions.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Apple_Robert Avatar
11 weeks ago
I agree with Tim. Privacy is, and should be the number one priority.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Jason Manley Avatar
11 weeks ago
Privacy is important and I'm grateful that Apple takes it so seriously. I wish they took speech equally as serious.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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