Apple CEO: Don’t Trust Companies That Say They Need Your Data

Gavin Hanson | Contributor

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

Cook told Vice News that although Apple’s Siri doesn’t heavily 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 known for their collection of data from users to help their Echo and Alexa products tailor user experiences.

Cook called such arguments “false tradeoffs.”

“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,” he said. “Whoever’s telling you that — it’s a bunch of bunk.”

Along with Facebook and TwitterGoogle and Amazon have created a standard model of wide-reaching data collection 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. Cook claimed 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 after Facebook’s announcement Friday that a massive data breach had occurred, compromising user data for around 50 million users. To Cook, this is an example of the dangers implicit in compromising privacy through data collection.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg previously mentioned the significance of affordable web platforms.

“You know, I find that argument, that if you’re not paying that somehow we can’t care about you, to be extremely glib. And not at all aligned with the truth,” Zuckerberg said during an interview with Vox’s Ezra Klein. “If you want to build a service which is not just serving rich people, then you need to have something people can afford.”

“I see privacy as central to liberty,” Cook said.

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