Tim Cook describes privacy as 'one of the top issues of the century'

Tim Cook at the iPhone 11 Pro event
Tim Cook at the iPhone 11 Pro event (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • Tim Cook talked about privacy in a new interview with Fast Company.
  • The Apple CEO had just come off a speech at an EU privacy conference.

In a new interview with Fast Company, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that privacy is as large and consequential of an issue as something like climate change.

"In terms of privacy—I think it is one of the top issues of the century," he tells me. "We've got climate change—that is huge. We've got privacy—that is huge. . . . And they should be weighted like that and we should put our deep thinking into that and to decide how can we make these things better and how do we leave something for the next generation that is a lot better than the current situation."

The CEO also touched on the importance of encryption, which Cook says is under constant threat of being weakened.

"You know, I'm a big believer in encryption—in end-to-end encryption with no back doors—and so I do worry about anyone trying to break that in any kind of way or weaken it in any kind of way."

When asked about some who don't understand Apple's unshakeable stance on privacy, Cook answered the question with his own, asking what life would be like without it.

"I try to get somebody to think about what happens in a world where you know that you're being surveilled all the time. What changes do you then make in your own behavior? What do you do less of? What do you not do anymore? What are you not as curious about anymore if you know that each time you're on the web, looking at different things, exploring different things, you're going to wind up constricting yourself more and more and more and more? That kind of world is not a world that any of us should aspire to.And so I think most people, when they think of it like that . . . start thinking quickly about, 'Well, what am I searching for? I look for this and that. I don't really want people to know I'm looking at this and that, because I'm just curious about what it is' or whatever. So it's this change of behavior that happens that is one of the things that I deeply worry about, and I think that everyone should worry about it."

When asked if America should implement privacy regulations similar to that of the European Union's GDPR, Cook says that he is optimistic about the idea.

"I think people are seeing the results of not having it. Not everyone, but the vast majority of people are not happy with the way things are going. And I think that as people begin to feel that way the representatives of those people begin to change their views as well. And so I'm very optimistic about this—call me naive, but I'm optimistic about it."

You can read the full interview at Fast Company. The Apple CEO gave the interview just after giving a speech on privacy at an EU privacy conference.

Joe Wituschek
Contributor

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.

2 Comments
  • I agree with the stance on privacy. But they can go even further and do better. Replace "surveilled" with "blocked" or "censored" in the below quote from Mr. Cook, and then ask why Apple gets to decide what apps you can have on the devices you purchase/own? ie, entire categories of apps, such as gaming platforms, simply not allowed. What is the chilling effect on app development when developers self-censor themselves, knowing it is futile, or even worse, uncertain, to develop and bring their ideas to iOS. For sure, curate all you want on your own store, but don't make that the *only* way to install apps on peoples personal devices. ""I try to get somebody to think about what happens in a world where you know that you're being surveilled all the time. What changes do you then make in your own behavior? What do you do less of? What do you not do anymore? What are you not as curious about anymore if you know that each time you're on the web, looking at different things, exploring different things, you're going to wind up constricting yourself more and more and more and more? That kind of world is not a world that any of us should aspire to."
  • Wake up. All OS’s are walled in gardens. If you don’t like it there are plenty of alternatives. The Facebook app isn’t even required on an iPhone. Just go to the webpage like you would on any other computer.