Tim Cook: Apple isn’t interested in sharing your data


Tim Cook is a privacy advocate.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Tim Cook participated in a recent interview with NPR’s Robert Siegel, in which he reiterates Apple’s stance on user privacy, discusses what it would take for Apple to bring its overseas cash pile back into the U.S. — and comically avoids talking about the Apple Car.

You can listen to it below.

The privacy conversation comes days after Apple published its updated privacy policy. For me, the most interesting part of Cook’s discussion with Siegel concerns what Apple does and does not consider to be “fair game” in terms of data-mining.

For instance, while Cook has been clear about his belief that Apple shouldn’t read user emails, he also points out that there are certain times when users might want Apple to know what they are doing. A transcript of that section of the conversation is below:

Siegel: People buy music from the App Store and music from the iTunes Store. Consumers’ purchasing history is available to you. You make absolutely no use of that in what people see on their devices?

Cook: Let me be clear. If you buy something from the App Store, we do know what you bought from the App Store, obviously. We think customers are fine with that. Many customers want us to recommend an app. But what they don’t want to do is for [their] email to be read and [Apple] to pick up on key words in [their] email and then to use that information to then market [them] things on a different application to the one you’re using.

Siegel: So our commercial behavior within the App Store…

Cook: …Within an app…

Siegel: …That you would consider to be fair game?

Cook: Let me be very clear. Let’s say you buy a song. We think you want us to know you bought the song. You bought it from us. And we think you want us to look at that and, assuming you’ve opted into Genius, we’ll recommend you another song that you might like. We think that’s perfectly fine. We think it’s perfectly fine for any retailer to do that. But if you’re in our News app and you’re reading something, we don’t think that in the News app we should know what you did what you did with us in the Music app. Not to trade information from app to app to app.

Cook also voices his negative opinion on building a “back door” to allow security agencies to access Apple devices, noting that if you do that, “the bad guys get in there, too.” He goes on to say that, “Privacy is a fundamental human right that people have. Our view on this comes from a values point of view, not from a commercial interest point of view.”

He does, however, acknowledge that Apple does provide information “from time to time” if it is asked “in a way that is correct and has been through the courts, as is required — to the degree that we have that information — that we give that information.”

Building the perfect privacy policy is always going to be a challenge for any company, let alone one the size of Apple. But the more I hear Cook discuss Apple’s nuanced policy, the more I’m reminded of why he’s the perfect CEO for the company circa 2015.

Do you agree or disagree with Tim Cook’s stance? Leave your comments below.

Source: NPR