Tim Cook talks NSA, customer privacy, and more in NPR interview

At a sit-down with NPR to talk about privacy, Cook described it as a “fundamental human right.”


However, we design our products in such a way that privacy is designed into the product. Instead of us taking that data into Apple, we’ve kept data on the phone and it’s encrypted by you.

Explaining the rating to El Reg at the time, Nate Cardozo, an EFF staff attorney, said that “with this report, we ask specifically how well companies stand up to the government, not what kind of business they run”. Think about what happened in [Washington, D.C.] with… literally tens of millions of employees of the government getting their data stolen.

We do think that people want us to help them keep their lives private.

When asked whether Apple’s emphasis on privacy is a dig to competitors like Google or whether it would exist if Apple wasn’t a hardware company, Cook maintains that Apple’s views on privacy are born out of the company’s values.

In the interview, Cook also noted that many organizations are coming around to “some core tenets” about information security, a key point being that “encryption is a must in today’s world”. Cupertino’s head honcho said “I don’t think you will hear the NSA asking for a backdoor”, although he acknowledged “there have been different conversations with the Federal Bureau of Investigation”. And we build powerful safeguards into our operating systems, our apps, and the devices themselves. And that our customers are not our products.

The company recently updated its privacy site, adding details about how data is collected in iOS 9, and incorporated a letter from Cook itself, published after last year’s “Celebgate” nude picture leak. Cook said “that’s not the business we’re in”, leaving the comparison to Apple’s biggest rival unsaid.

Let me be clear.

For example, Cook said Apple does know what apps you purchase so that it can make recommendations for other apps, but it does not read your emails to pick up keywords so that it can use that information to market other items. We think customers are fine with that.


Spiegel started the interview by noting that Apple has refused to give user information such as texts to the United States government in the past, but questioned whether, if the conversations were about “hijacked airplanes, and skyscrapers, and dirty bombs”, Apple would provide that data.

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