Tim Cook believes Apple has a moral obligation to protect its users' privacy, and he'll got to any lengths to let you know it — even if it means taking shots at fellow Silicon Valley power players like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo.
"Like many of you, we at Apple reject the idea that our customers should have to make tradeoffs between privacy and security. We can, and we must provide both in equal measure. We believe that people have a fundamental right to privacy. The American people demand it, the Constitution demands it, morality demands it," Cook said during his speech at the EPIC civil liberties event in Washington, D.C. this week, was he was the first business leader ever to be honored.
The Apple CEO quickly took aim at the tech companies that have made billions out of selling off personal user data to advertisers — from search queries to email content to which websites we like to browse.
"I'm speaking to you from Silicon Valley, where some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information," Cook said. "They're gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that's wrong. And it's not the kind of company that Apple wants to be."
"We don't think you should ever have to trade [privacy] for a service you think is free but actually comes at a very high cost. This is especially true now that we're storing data about our health, our finances and our homes on our devices," Cook added.
Why this matters: Tim Cook has been on a very public plight for user privacy lately. Ever since the catastrophic celebrity iCloud hacks, Apple has been bending over backwards to reassure users that the company is committed to protecting their privacy and ensuring the company's security standards.
This is a pivotal business mission for Cook and Apple, especially considering consumer trust might be the single factor determining whether new data-storing projects like Apple Pay and HealthKit will be embraced by the public. Although who's to say that getting your credit card information or medical history stolen is any more disastrous than having your sexy selfies floating around the web.
Cook: So-called free services' aren't worth it
The Apple CEO seemed to be referring to companies like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo, who have made successful business models out of offering free services in exchange for mining mass user data and giving advertisers some of the most targeted advertising platforms on the planet. In 2014, Facebook was the fastest-growing online advertising platform, but Google was still the largest by far. Cook even gave a veiled reference to Google's flashy new Google Photos, as possibly just another product Google might package for advertisers.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.