Tim Cook reiterates Apple’s strong privacy stance

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As if Tim Cook doesn't already have enough on his plate!
Tim Cook is all about privacy. Photo: Apple
Photo: Apple

Ever since Tim Cook took over at Apple he’s been as outspoken about social issues as he has about the company’s latest insanely great product. During his recent whistle-stop world tour, that included Israel, the United Kingdom and Germany, Cook took the time to speak with German newspaper BILD (paywall).

Despite Apple’s March 9 Apple Watch event being just one week away, Cook used the coverage to speak about a topic as dear to his heart as Apple’s next-gen wearable: privacy.

“We don’t read your emails, we don’t read your messages, we find it unacceptable to do that,” Cook said, adding that, “I don’t want people reading mine!”

This isn’t the first time Cook has voiced a similar sentiment. “You are not our product,” he famously told Charlie Rose in a 2014 interview, making Apple’s position on personal data clear. During that interview he skewered Google’s data-driven business model, and pointed out that people should worried about companies “making money mainly by collecting gobs of personal data.”

Cook made the same point again during his recent interview with the Telegraph newspaper in the U.K., commenting that:

“None of us should accept that the government or a company or anybody should have access to all of our private information. This is a basic human right. We all have a right to privacy. We shouldn’t give it up. We shouldn’t give in to scare-mongering or to people who fundamentally don’t understand the details.”

As he did during the recent government symposium regarding cybersecurity, Cook stressed during his interview with BILD that Apple Pay was designed in such a way that Apple knows nothing about what customers buy, how much they paid, or where they bought it from. “We don’t want to know any of that,” Cook said.

While Cook has, as noted, made these points before, they’re points which bear repeating — particularly in Germany, which has some of the strictest privacy laws in Europe, and has clashed with Google many times over the topic of cybersurveillance. If Cook is ever going to find a country perfectly in tune with his views on surveillance, it is Germany.

Interestingly, Cook did shed one brief insight about the changing face of Apple. Although he describes Steve Jobs as the best teacher he has ever had during the interview, Cook acknowledged that as Apple has gotten to its current position, there has been a growing realization that it doesn’t need to be quite so secretive about some topics: namely, social issues such as security, education, privacy, and the environment. I’ve noted this change before at Cult of Mac, but it is revealing to hear Cook discuss them.

However, that doesn’t mean he’ll talk about upcoming products. Quizzed about the possibility of an Apple Car, Cook simply said that, “I have read the rumours. I can’t comment on it.”

He didn’t deny it though. To quote Lloyd Christmas, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”