March 30, 2018

“I told you so.” It’s unlikely that Tim Cook -- maybe the most respected exec in Silicon Valley -- would use such callow words.

Yet that’s exactly what he’s telling anyone who ever doubted that consumer data mining would result in scandals like the one currently engulfing Facebook.

Like Facebook, Google, and other data fiends, “We could make a ton of money if we monetized our customers … if our customers were our product,” Apple’s CEO says in a new interview with MSNBC and Recode, which is scheduled to air in early April.

But “we’ve elected not to do that,” Cook crows. “We’re not going to traffic in your personal life … Privacy to us is a human right, a civil liberty.”

Still, don’t a ton of apps in Apple’s App Store profit from their use of consumer data, which ultimately means more money for Apple?

Not to a degree that makes Cook uncomfortable, apparently. “We look at every app [in the App Store] in great detail,” Cook says in the interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and Recode’s Kara Swisher. Apple closely scrutinizes every app by asking: “What is it doing [and] is it meeting the privacy policy that it’s stating?” he added.

Cook’s words are clearly aimed at Facebook, which has come under enormous scrutiny in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica fiasco.

To his credit, Cook has been banging the drum on the issue of consumer privacy for years, and he seems to support it on principle

Yet, like his predecessor, Steve Jobs, Cook also uses the issue as a way to differentiate Apple from its rivals -- and bash anyone in the business of consumer data.

That’s all fine, and the tech industry desperately needs a leader like Cook to stand up and draw a clear line between right and wrong.

The question is what consumers see as Cook’s motive in speaking up: defending civil liberties or boosting Apple’s brand image?

by Gavin O'Malley
Courtesy of mediapost



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