Apple CEO: Don’t trust companies that say they need your personal data

By Gavin Hanson

Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, during a Vice interview told consumers that when companies claim to need users’ data it’s a “bunch of bunk.”

Cook told Vice Tuesday that although Apple’s Siri doesn’t rely on broadly collected user data, the virtual assistant is not at a competitive disadvantage. Google and Amazon, Apple’s competitors in the personal assistant market, are notorious for their collection of data from users to help their Echo and Alexa products tailor user experiences.

Cook called such arguments “false trade-offs.” The CEO went so far as to say “The narrative that some companies will try to get you to believe is, ‘I’ve got to take all of your data to make my service better.’ Well, don’t believe that. Whoever’s telling you that — it’s a bunch of bunk.”

Along with Facebook and Twitter, Google and Amazon have created a standard model of wide reaching data collection that borders on surveillance in order to sell advertising space more lucratively, but each company pitches this feature as a means of personalizing their products to individual customers.

Apple takes an alternative approach to the personalization of user experience. Its team, which publicly denied a 2016 FBI request to build “back doors” into iPhones for law enforcement, has become a counterpoint to the tech industry’s status quo. According to Cook, Apple is, “not in the business of building the detailed profile of you,” adding, “we challenge ourselves to collect as little as possible. And when we have it, we challenge ourselves to encrypt it in the end.”

Vice’s interview took place just days after Facebook’s announcement Friday that a massive data breach had occured, compromising user data for around 50 million users. To Cook, this is an example of the dangers implicit in compromising privacy through data collection. He said of privacy, “I see privacy as central to liberty,” even calling for government regulation to protect what he calls a “human right.”

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Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Valery Marchive

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