Privacy key area of focus for decades, always keep users' best interest in mind: Apple's Tim Cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook says privacy goes to the heart of one of the key values of Apple, which has always focused 'intently on the user and what is in their best interest'.

Apple CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday said privacy had been an important aspect for the company for decades and that it had always focused on users and their best interest in this matter.

The top executive, while speaking at the VivaTech Summit, said the "intersection" of technology and humanity could produce incredible things, which had been seen during the pandemic.

"We see it (privacy) as a basic human right, a fundamental human right, and one where we've been focused on privacy for decades...Steve (Jobs) used to say that privacy was stating in plain language what people are signing up for and giving their permission, and that permission should be asked repeatedly. And so we've always tried to live up to that," he said.

Cook added that if the "surveillance economy" took over, everyone would be worried that somebody else was watching them and they would begin to do less, think less, and freedom of expression would get narrowed.

"So, privacy goes to the heart of one of the key values of Apple...we always focus intently on the user and what is in their best interest," he emphasised.

Cook said a proposed European law known as Digital Markets Act (DMA) would not be in the best interest of users.

"...if you take an example of where I don't think it's in the best interest (of users), the current DMA language that is being discussed would force sideloading on the iPhone and so this an alternate way of getting apps onto the iPhone... that would destroy the security of the iPhone and a lot of the privacy initiatives that we built into the app store," he said.

He added that the company was going to "constructively take part in the debate and hope that we can find a way forward".

The European Union has proposed the DMA that focuses on companies with a large customer base and sets rules requiring them to open up their platforms to competitors.

The top executive also spoke of how the company had participated in relief activities during the pandemic, donating masks and face shields. Apple also worked with Google on an exposure notification system.

"As the pandemic began to climb in other parts of the world like India, we joined with Medtronic and a group of companies to donate ventilators to India. And currently, we're working with Product Red to donate vaccines to Africa, which is in vast need of vaccines," he added.

Cook said the pandemic brought out the best in many people and showed how resilient the human race was. "And it showed how done right, that the intersection of technology with humanity, can produce some incredible things for the world...So I'm leaving the pandemic very optimistic about what we can all do for society."

Edited by Teja Lele Desai


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