Apple’s staunch reputation for security and privacy is under scrutiny lately as a result of the celebrity iCloud hack and the company’s entry into the mobile payment market; and CEO Tim Cook wants users to know that he is committed to preserving privacy — from governments and competitors alike.
During an interview with journalist Charlie Rose aired Monday night on PBS, Cook explained that the company does not read users’ emails or iMessages in order to avoid becoming “the treasure trove of places to come to” when NSA sends out requests for user data.
“We have hundreds and millions of customers. So it’s a very rare instance that there’s been any data asked,” Cook said. “And one of the reasons is, we don’t keep a lot. We’re not the treasure trove of places to come to.”
“I don’t think that the country, or the government’s found the right balance. I think they erred too much on the collect everything side. And I think the president and the administration is committed to kind of moving that pendulum back.”
Cook went on to describe how the above philosophy ties into Apple’s larger business ethic, which (intentionally or unintentionally) served as a backhanded criticism of Apple’s Silicon Valley contemporaries (e.g. Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc.).
“Our business is not based on having information about you. You’re not our product. Our product are these, and this watch, and Macs, and so forth,” Cook said. “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.”