Thoughts on Apple, Tim Cook and privacy

Your privacy is not Apple's product....

thoughts on apple tim cook and privacy

While Apple CEO, Tim Cook, is "offended" at the way customer privacy is being undermined by some tech firms, you should be frightened.

'You are not the product'

Apple has a completely different vision. Cook spoke up for Apple's attitude to privacy when speaking with Charlie Rose recently. He thinks your privacy is important, and believes you should think so too. He is not interested in being a "treasure trove" for agencies like the NSA.

"Our business is based on selling [these]," said Cook, pointing to his iPhone. "Our business is not based on having information about you. You are not our product. Our product is [these) and the watch, and Macs and so forth."

"We’re not reading your email, we’re not reading your iMessages. If the government laid a subpoena on us to get your iMessages, we can’t provide it. It’s encrypted and we don’t have the key," Cook explained.

Follow the money

This is infuriating for some who hope to work with Apple, of course. Apple's iAds service seems to be foundering -- not because it doesn't have the attention of users, but because the company refused to let marketing firms easily access data about those users. Others in the mobile advertising world don't see your privacy as being anything like as important as their profit margin. That's not the Apple way, explains Cook.

"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. I think companies collecting it should be very transparent about it," he said.

Apple's actions

Apple's actions speak volumes:

Take Apple Pay, for example -- not only doe the company not collect data about what you purchase, but it doesn't want to.

Subsequent to the Snowden allegations, Apple demanded the right to reveal how many times the US government had forced it to share user information. "Between zero and 250" times, said Cook.

There are many examples, not least Apple's promise that your fingerprints are not stored in the cloud

The importance of Apple's position regarding user privacy cannot and should not be underestimated. Think about it. Not only is your smartphone with you everywhere you go, but as they impact the home, car and health markets, connected devices are able to reveal incredibly revealing information about you:

  • Where you go
  • What you do
  • What you buy
  • What you read
  • What you like
  • What you seek
  • Where you live
  • Where you work

The list goes on

Are you ready?

Mobile devices actively use this kind of information in order to transact certain tasks on your behalf. And while it is certain to be true that some people see the sacrifice of anything like a private life in exchange for convenience as worthwhile, others do not.

Consider the well-publicized lack of security inherent in many existing Internet of Things devices and the software that runs them. Think about this -- if government agencies can get your data, so can anybody -- and as multiple elements of your life become features within your mobile device, you must consider the risk of popping all your life's eggs in one basket.

Here are some predictions:

  • In the coming months attempts to undermine Apple's security systems will intensify.
  • However, because Apple doesn't use your data the amount of information security subverters can yield by breaking into Apple devices is less than that they'll be able to get by hacking other more vulnerable platforms.
  • This means that while attacks on Apple will intensify, so too will attacks on other platforms, as those platforms are where the money is.

A security nightmare looms. Are you prepared?

You can watch an excerpt from Cook's Rose chat here.

Google+? If you use social media and happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic's Kool Aid Corner community and join the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?

Got a story? Drop me a line via Twitter or in comments below and let me know. I'd like it if you chose to follow me on Twitter so I can let you know when fresh items are published here first on Computerworld

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

It’s time to break the ChatGPT habit
Shop Tech Products at Amazon