Facebook and Google use your personal data to make money. Consumer data is the core of their advertising businesses. By making your private data accessible to third parties they have attained a combined market value of $1.2 trillion.
Apple, on the other hand, does not sell or otherwise use your personal data. They make their money selling hardware such as computers, and iPads and iPhones.
And now Apple CEO Tim Cook is starting to speak out publicly about this very important issue which as come to the forefront due to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
On Wednesday Cook harshly criticized Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s business model. He said that the detailed profiles of individual Facebook users should not even exist, let alone be used to make profits.
“We could make a ton of money if we monetized our customers, if our customers were our product,” Cook said in an interview with Recode. “We’ve elected not to do that.
“I think it’s an invasion of privacy. Privacy to us is a human right,” Cook said. “It’s a civil liberty, and in something that is unique to America, this is like freedom of speech and freedom of the press and privacy is right up there for us. And so, we’ve always done this.”
Cook also believes it may now be necessary to regulate Facebook. “I think the best regulation is no regulation, is self-regulation,” he said. “However, I think we’re beyond that here.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook: We could make a ton of money if we monetized our customers. If our customers were our product. We've elected not to do that. …We're not going to traffic in your personal life. Privacy to us is a human right, a civil liberty. #RevolutionCHI pic.twitter.com/R8W4Nb69bn
— Recode (@Recode) March 28, 2018
Cook was in China last week and made similar remarks there. In Beijing he said: “I think that this certain situation is so dire and has become so large that probably some well-crafted regulation is necessary.”
Cook is not the only person criticizing Facebook of course. The social media giant has been heavily criticized since the reporting came out that the private data of at least 50 million American users was improperly used by the U.K. firm Cambridge Analytica to help elect Donald Trump president. The Federal Trade Commission has also opened an investigation into Facebook’s possible violation of federal privacy laws.
Cook has been criticizing mass data collection by Facebook and Google for many years. In 2015 he made a general comment that was harshly critical of the internet platforms (such as Facebook and Google) that are “gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it.”
Cook is not the only Silicon Valley CEO to criticize Facebook and other companies right now. On Friday Elon Musk deleted the Facebook pages for two of his companies, Tesla and SpaceX.
Cook, 57, had no advice for Zuckerberg in dealing with the public backlash from the latest privacy scandal. Instead of offering advice Cook just said: “I wouldn’t be in this situation.”
But still, these companies may now be facing a reckoning from consumers. People are now aware of the large amount of information that is being collected from them every time they use the internet. They are also waking up to the fact that their personal data is being monetized and used against them. As concerns increase over the gathering of data and how it is used, there will be increasing calls for regulation of the industry.
And if Tim Cook has his way, the sooner this regulation comes the better it will be for everyone.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.