Apple CEO Tim Cook just took a huge potshot at ad-driven companies like Google and Facebook

Tim Cook Apple CEOStephen Lam/Getty ImagesApple CEO Tim Cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook is not too happy about how big Silicon Valley tech companies are using your personal information, reportsThe Verge.

In a speech delivered remotely to a dinner in Washington, DC hosted by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, where he was being honored as a “champion of freedom,” Cook said:

Our privacy is being attacked on multiple fronts. 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. They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetise it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.

Cook doesn’t mention them by name, but it’s pretty obvious who he’s talking about — companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter, which collect user data to help target advertisements more effectively.

Cook also touched on on the trade-offs between free Web services (like Gmail) that you get from these companies in exchange for your personal information:

You might like these so-called free services, but we don’t think they’re worth having your email or your search history or now even your family photos data-mined and sold off for God knows what advertising purpose. And we think someday, customers will see this for what it is.

Cook also spoke against government backdoors into people’s personal devices. “If you put a key under the mat for the cops, a burglar can find it too,” Cook said.

As Google and Facebook build out artificial intelligence laboratories that can automatically sift huge amounts of our personal data, including photos and videos, Apple has a choice to make.

Should Apple invest more heavily in collecting data, with the result of a more personal experience for users at the probable cost of trust and privacy? Or does Apple stick to its guns and let Google pull way ahead in this one area?

Judging from this speech, and from the other remarks he’s given in support of online privacy, it sounds like Cook has made his decision.

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