Apple has long seen itself as the last bastion of privacy in a technology world where collecting users’ personal data and monetizing – and sometimes weaponizing it – is just seen as good business. CEO Tim Cook was interviewed by Axios recently, with the interview aired by HBO on Sunday, and the tone of it was clear: Apple doesn’t need to dig into your life to make things work.
During the interview, Tim Cook was keen to remind everyone that Apple’s stance on privacy is not a new one. In fact, Apple saw privacy as a vital value right before the iPhone was around, something that many people may not realize.
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.
That, predictably, led to a line of questioning about how Apple was able to reconcile that with taking $3 billion from Google, a payment that ensured the search giant would remain the default search option on Apples iPhone and iPads. Cook deflected by saying that Google was the best around and that Apple was doing work to mitigate the online tracking that takes place via web browsers.
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.
Unfortunately, the full interview has not yet been made available online, but we’ll keep our eyes open for when this happens. The full interview touched on other topics too, including the male-dominated culture of Silicon Valley and the belief that “it’s inevitable that there will be some level of regulation.” This comes with Cook admitting that while he isn’t a fan of regulation, it’s clear that a free market isn’t working.
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