Apple CEO Tim Cook, in an interview with Fast Company, called Data Privacy one of the top two issues of the century along with climate change. Actually, the executive says that climate change should be number one and privacy number two. This past Thursday, Cook live streamed a keynote speech at the Computers, Privacy & Data Protection conference in Brussels.
Tim Cook: Data Privacy is one of the top two issues of this century
Cook told Fast Company that "In terms of privacy—I think it is one of the top issues of the century. We’ve got climate change—that is huge. We’ve got privacy—that is huge. . . . And they should be weighted like that and we should put our deep thinking into that and to decide how can we make these things better and how do we leave something for the next generation that is a lot better than the current situation."
Part of the worry that he has about Data Privacy revolves around threats to weaken end-to-end encryption. This is something that law enforcement around the world is serious about. "You know, I’m a big believer in encryption—in end-to-end encryption with no back doors—and so I do worry about anyone trying to break that in any kind of way or weaken it in any kind of way," Cook says.
will debut in the next beta update of iOS. This will force iOS users to opt-in with third party apps if they want to continue being tracked for advertising purposes. While most people will probably decide not to opt in, Cook spoke about those who don't see ad tracking and other privacy issues as a problem. He said, "I try to get somebody to think about what happens in a world where you know that you’re being surveilled all the time. What changes do you then make in your own behavior? What do you do less of? What do you not do anymore? What are you not as curious about anymore if you know that each time you’re on the web, looking at different things, exploring different things, you’re going to wind up constricting yourself more and more and more and more? That kind of world is not a world that any of us should aspire to."Apple's new App Tracking Transparency feature
Cook made an interesting point when he brought up the concept of 'Big Tech' as an interchangeable group of companies that think alike and act alike. Besides Apple, this group includes names like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon. According to Apple's CEO, the group of firms known as "Big Tech" are not individually fungible. He points out that "I think it’s important for people not to categorize 'Big Tech' in a way that would make people view it to be monolithic, because I think the companies are actually quite different compared to one another. And so I worry about that broad, broad-brush categorization from the get-go. I try to encourage people to think a level deeper than that and think about the companies themselves and their business models and how they conduct themselves, and so on and so forth—what their values are. That’s kind of the way I look at it."
Apple and Facebook, two of the companies in the 'Big Tech' basket, are currently at odds over Apple's App Tracking Transparency feature. Facebook derives a vast majority of its income from serving up ads and is in a position to lose a significant chunk of this change if enough iOS users decide not to opt-in to tracking. In fact, Facebook previously said that its ad revenues, which nearly hit $85 billion last year, could be cut in half once Apple forces iOS users to opt-in to be tracked.