Apple CEO Tim Cook is calling out fellow tech industry titans for violating users’ privacy rights and expressing concern about he much time iPhone customers and their children are spending using Apple products.
Cook also mentioned Facebook and Google after criticizing sites that sell people’s data, saying such sites can obtain more information in secret than a ‘peeping Tom.’
His highly-critical comments were made during an exclusive ABC News interview with Diane Sawyer that aired on Friday.
The 58-year-old leader of the world’s most profitable tech company was discussing the issue of online privacy and ways to help Americans spend less time looking at smartphone screens during a conversation about how technology is damaging people’s lives.
‘When I was growing up, one of the worst things other than something like hurting somebody or something, was the peeping Tom, you know, somebody looking in the window,’ Cook told Sawyer.
Apple CEO Tim Cook recently gave ABC News an exclusive interview that aired Friday
Cook told Diane Sawyer that some companies know a lot more about you than a ‘peeping Tom,’ which he described as ‘one of the worst things’
‘The fact is that the people who track on the internet know a lot more about you than if somebody’s looking in your window, a lot more. Because you tend to put your thoughts online, what you think about something.’
Facebook, for one, has been embroiled in major privacy-related scandals over the last year or so.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was forced to testify before Congress in April 2018 after the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed the political data firm provided the 2016 Trump campaign with data from more than 50 million Facebook users, including information about their identities, who their friends are and what they’ve ‘liked’ on the website.
Facebook’s stock price plummeted in the aftermath of the scandal before tumbling once again in December after a New York Times investigation revealed the social network had shared users’ personal data with other tech industry giants like Microsoft, Netflix and Spotify.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress in April 2018 after the Cambridge Analytica scandal
Facebook’s stock price plummeted in the aftermath of the scandal before tumbling once again in December after a New York Times investigation revealed the social network had shared users’ personal data with other tech industry giants like Microsoft, Netflix and Spotify
Facebook vowed to improve its privacy features while announcing a new version of its site at the company’s F8 Developer Conference on Tuesday
The world’s largest social media company has vowed to change the way it manages users’ private data.
During its F8 Developer Conference on Tuesday, Zuckerberg told a crowd of revelers Facebook’s ‘future is private,’ as the company announced a redesign of its main app and website and plans to one day unify the site with the company’s other platforms, including Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp.
‘We don’t exactly have the strongest reputation on privacy right now, to put it lightly. But I’m committed to doing this well and starting a new chapter for our product,’ Zuckerberg said. ‘Over time, I believe that a private social platform will be even more important to our lives than our digital town squares… We believe that for the future, people want a privacy-focused social platform… This is about building the kind of future we want to live in.’
Cook previously denounced Facebook and other tech companies for hoarding ‘industrial’ amounts of users’ private data during a privacy conference at the European Parliament in Brussels in October.
Apple offers Google apps including the search engine company’s Chromes web browser, in its App Store. Apple CEO Tim Cook expressed disapproval of Google’s data collecting, but said Apple believes Chrome is the ‘best web browser’
Cook previously denounced Facebook and other tech companies for hoarding ‘industrial’ amounts of users’ private data during a privacy conference at the European Parliament in Brussels in October
He characterized the issue of online privacy as a ‘crisis’ on Friday.
‘Privacy in itself has become a crisis. I think it’s a crisis,’ he said.
Sawyer pointed out Apple offers Facebook and Google apps like Chrome in its App Store and also does business through data collecting apps.
‘You’re making money through the App Store on the apps that are doing things that you think have got us in a crisis,’ she said.
‘We don’t make any money on Facebook,’ Cook responded pointedly. ‘Google, we do make money on the browser. We selected Google, frankly, because we believe it’s the best browser.’
American adults spend what amounts to 49 days per year looking at their smartphone, according to a 2018 Nielsen report.
That adds up to one and a half months staring at a phone screen over a lifetime.
During the interview, Cook said overuse of tech products concerns him, particularly how it is affecting parents and children.
He pointed out Apple created ways for parents to control screen time on specific iPhone apps in 2018, allowing them to track and police what children are using and how long they are using Apple devices.
‘We have been working hard to add key capabilities into our products to help people find a better balance,’ he said.
Cook emphasized that Apple makes most of its money from selling iPhones, iPads and other hardware devices, but the company doesn’t want customers to overuse the products and miss out on real-world experiences.
‘You make money from how long people stay on the app,’ Sawyer challenged.
‘No. No, we make money if we can convince you to buy an iPhone. And so it’s kind of a straight forward and honest business model. But I don’t want you using the product a lot. In fact, if you’re using it a lot, there’s probably something we should do to make your use more productive,’ Cook responded.
Google and Facebook did not immediately respond to request for comment on Cook’s comments.
The Apple CEO also said his company prioritizes customers’ privacy and that other companies need to do the same to solve the growing problem.
Apple also installed a system on its Safari web browser in 2018 that allows users to limit access to their personal data.
‘We treasure your data. We want to help you keep it private and keep it secure. We’re on your side,’ Cook said. ‘This [privacy crisis] is fixable… We very much are an ally in that fight.’