Tim Cook: Customers, Not Companies, Should Control Their Data - InformationWeek
IoT
IoT
IT Life
News
6/3/2015
11:06 AM
100%
0%
RELATED EVENTS
Moving UEBA Beyond the Ground Floor
Sep 20, 2017
This webinar will provide the details you need about UEBA so you can make the decisions on how bes ...Read More>>

Tim Cook: Customers, Not Companies, Should Control Their Data

Apple CEO Tim Cook told a crowd that consumer data should be theirs to keep and not used to make businesses money. He targeted Google and Facebook without mentioning them.

7 Bold Tech Ideas That Will Make You Uncomfortable
7 Bold Tech Ideas That Will Make You Uncomfortable
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Apple's CEO Tim Cook gave an impassioned speech on defending consumer privacy and encryption while being honored for corporate leadership by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) at their Champions of Freedom event in Washington on June 2.

In addition to leveling charges at companies who use their users' data for profit -- he didn't name names, but Google, Facebook, and Twitter would all fit into that business model -- he blasted Washington politicians and claimed taking away encryption would have a "chilling effect" on Americans' First Amendment rights.

"Like many of you, we at Apple reject the idea that our customers should have to make tradeoffs between privacy and security," Cook told the audience Tuesday from a video link in Silicon Valley, according to a TechCrunch report of the event.

"We can, and we must provide both in equal measure. We believe that people have a fundamental right to privacy. The American people demand it, the constitution demands it, morality demands it," Cook added.

(Image: EdStock/iStockphoto)

(Image: EdStock/iStockphoto)

EPIC, an independent, non-profit research center located in the nation's capital, was founded to protect privacy, freedom of expression, democratic values, and to promote public debate and opinion in decisions regarding the future of the Web, and routinely files amicus briefs in federal courts.

"We believe the customer should be in control of their own information," Cook continued. "You might like these so-called free services, but we don't think they're worth having your email, your search history and now even your family photos data mined and sold off for god knows what advertising purpose. And we think some day, customers will see this for what it is."

Turning to encryption, Cook accused some in Washington of trying to attach civil liberties by undermining citizens' ability to encrypt their personal data.

"We think this is incredibly dangerous," Cook said. "We've been offering encryption tools in our products for years, and we're going to stay on that path. We think it's a critical feature for our customers who want to keep their data secure."

[Read about what CIOs need to know about encryption and the NSA.]

This is not the first time Apple's CEO has spoken up about privacy issues.

He addressed the topic during an appearance on Charlie Rose, and when he was speaking at this year's Summit on Cybersecurity at Stanford, which was coordinated by the White House and featured a keynote speech by President Obama. In addition, Cook wrote an open letter to Apple users in the wake of the celebrity hacking incidents.

The letter was posted on Apple's new Privacy page, which Cook said was established to explain how the company handles a user's personal information, what they do and don't collect, and why.

"I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will," he wrote.

"Our commitment to protecting your privacy comes from a deep respect for our customers. We know that your trust doesn't come easy. That's why we have and always will work as hard as we can to earn and keep it."

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
alejoseb
50%
50%
alejoseb,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/12/2015 | 7:10:53 PM
Re: Encryption still an ongoing debate
I am a little skeptical about the position of Apple's CEO, because any electronic device (smart phones, tablets and PC) will have access to our unencrypted data. Therefore, security is just as real as the companies' commitment with their privacy policies and declarations.
batye
50%
50%
batye,
User Rank: Ninja
6/9/2015 | 9:54:57 AM
Re: Encryption still an ongoing debate
@Brian.Dean, I could not agree more... with security nothing is free... How I see it...
batye
50%
50%
batye,
User Rank: Ninja
6/9/2015 | 9:53:28 AM
Re: If you want my data
@kstaron, I could not agree more... for me Facebook it security incident waiting to happens... as this days everyones uses facebook as single login :(...
kstaron
50%
50%
kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
6/4/2015 | 5:18:44 PM
If you want my data
I must agree that my information should be mine not a business's to do with what they please. It's one of the reasons I haven't used Facebook in years. If they really, really want my data they can pay me for it. This kind of rhetoric make me feel better about Apple too, at least the direction they could head in, now if only they could make sure the workers that make their products are treated better...
bmizell322
50%
50%
bmizell322,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/4/2015 | 3:51:23 PM
Re: Encryption still an ongoing debate
While I agree with the premise - most users won't go the extra step to Opt Out where needed in the long run (as most don't do it today). They blast tons of information on numerous public forums about thier likes, dislikes, wants and needs on many sites. We may put stronger rules on the mail and user account info. But the companies will simply add extra distractions, ploys, offers and temptations to get users to opt in and share the data in the end regardless.
Brian.Dean
50%
50%
Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
6/4/2015 | 2:26:04 AM
Re: Encryption still an ongoing debate
I am in favor of privacy and consumer protection, higher standards should be in place to deliver better services and security. However, economics will still determine the level of standards that are achievable in the world. Standards cannot be higher than, the revenue that a free account generates.

The subscription model can be used but, email services, etc., based on the subscription model did not grow in popularity. And, even with subscription enabled, security will still be relative. 
Stratustician
50%
50%
Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
6/3/2015 | 7:13:15 PM
Re: Encryption still an ongoing debate
I agree 100%. The less the impact it has on a person, the less likely they are to change their habits. It's a sad reality, especially with the vast number of occurrences that happen on a regular basis.
Thomas Claburn
50%
50%
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
6/3/2015 | 5:49:41 PM
Re: Encryption still an ongoing debate
I'm glad Cook is going to bat for privacy. But I'm skeptical people can be persuaded to care. Privacy's value only becomes apparent after some consequence, when it's too late to do anything about it.
Stratustician
50%
50%
Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
6/3/2015 | 2:47:29 PM
Encryption still an ongoing debate
I'm a huge advocate for privacy, and I think Tim Cook makes a great point saying that consumers need to be more aware of security and the implications that free services have when it comes to those tradeoffs.  Now that Facebook is introducing encryption, more consumers should be using it for all services, including web searches and email, yet as pointed out, it doesn't make governments happy to know that they have less access to encrypted data.  So where is the balance?  We need better enforced encryption as a start, and more mandates to companies to include it as well when dealing with customer data.  More importantly, we need more advocacy to push encryption as a standard.
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
IT Strategies to Conquer the Cloud
Chances are your organization is adopting cloud computing in one way or another -- or in multiple ways. Understanding the skills you need and how cloud affects IT operations and networking will help you adapt.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll