Apple’s Tim Cook made a not-so-subtle swipe last week at Internet companies that make their money by collecting “gobs of data.”
Our business is not based on having information about you. You’re not our product. Our product are these [points to iPhone], and this watch, and Macs, and so forth. And so we run a very different company.
I think everyone has to ask, how do companies make their money? Follow the money. And if they’re making money mainly by collecting gobs of personal data, I think you have a right to be worried. And you should really understand what’s happening to that data, and the companies — I think — should be very transparent.
If you want to use an Apple product, you pay Apple from your own bank account and you’re the customer. But if you’re using products from Google, Facebook and much of the ad-supported information economy, advertisers are the customers — and you’re the product. The more valuable data they can extract from you, the more money their customers (advertisers) will pay.
“I’m offended by lots of it,” said Cook of the way the Information economy operates.
While it’s rare for a CEO to take such a public stance on privacy in comparison to his or her peers, Apple must be feeling pressure to be aggressive. The company was front-page news for a week after hackers stole and circulated nude photos of female celebrities from iCloud last month.
Just a week after that hair-raising incident, Cook announced Apple Pay, a new payment system for credit card transactions. Purchase data is perhaps the most personal data of all, and Cook was out to assure the public that the new system won’t actually keep any data, so it would be impossible for a government agency (or a hacker) to steal it from Apple’s servers.
Noticeably absent from Rose’s questions where how Apple plans to help consumers protect themselves. The celebrity nude photo leak was likely due to poor password protections and the fact that hackers were allowed to make multiple attempts to access an account.
We’ll have to stay tuned to see how Apple plans to make its systems more secure for consumers.
Watch the privacy portion of Tim Cook’s interview below: