In a recent interview with NPR’s Robert Siegel, Apple CEO Tim Cook emphasized how he feels that “privacy is a fundamental human right” and discussed how Apple and its products and services work to protect the privacy of its users. Cook stated that the government does contact Apple “from time to time”, and of course Apple will supply any requested information if the government asks “in a way that is correct” and have followed proper legal proceedings through the courts.
However, he also noted that Apple can only provide information on its users “to the degree that we have information” and noted that Apple’s products are designed in such a way that most of users’ personal information remains on their own devices — in an encrypted form — rather than being stored on Apple’s servers. Cook also discussed the allegations that the government may ask for back doors into the systems of Apple and other companies, stating that any back doors can just as easily allow access to “bad guys as well as good guys” and stated emphatically that for that reason, “I don’t support a back door for any government, ever.”
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.”
I don’t support a back door for any government, ever.
Cook described Apple’s views on privacy coming from a “values point of view” rather than from commercial interests.
He stated that Apple’s core values are that people have a right to privacy, that “our customers are not our products,” and that collecting data on people is “just not the business that we are in.” He notes that Apple obviously does collect and use some data that is used within specific services — for example, App Store purchases are tracked by Apple to recommend other apps. He believes customers are fine with that and it’s a reasonable expectation, but stated that information is otherwise contained within these logical silos, and information doesn’t cross applications, so that users reading something in the News app, for example, will not suddenly find recommendations based on what they last listened to in the Music app.