'We've never been in the data business': Apple said it never took information from Facebook

GettyApple CEO Tim Cook.
  • “We’ve never been in the data business,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told NPR on Monday.
  • Cook was responding to a New York Times report that Facebook had allowed 60 phone manufacturers access to people’s data, including Apple.
  • It’s the latest shot Cook has fired at Facebook over its privacy practices.

Tim Cook has said Apple never took data from Facebook, after reports that Facebook granted more than 60 smartphone makers access to people’s information.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that Facebook had struck data sharing agreements with multiple device makers, including Apple and BlackBerry.

The deals were forged before most people had access to the Facebook app on their phones, and allowed manufacturers to offer popular Facebook features on mobile, such as “like” buttons and messaging. Facebook made data available on users’ political leanings, relationship status, and religion, according to the report.

But Cook told NPR: “The things mentioned in the Times article about relationship statuses and all these kinds of stuff, this is so foreign to us, and not data that we have ever received at all or requested – zero.

“What we did was we integrated the ability to share in the operating system, make it simple to share a photo and that sort of thing. So it’s a convenience for the user. We weren’t in the data business. We’ve never been in the data business.”

Cook was speaking during Apple’s annual developer conference, where his firm took veiled shots at Facebook. The company announced an update to its mobile Safari browser that would give users the ability to block Facebook and other ad tech firms tracking their activity around the web.

Apple wwdc 2018 safari facebookBusiness InsiderThe next version of Apple’s Safari browser will alert users to the tracking Facebook and other companies do through ‘like’ buttons and comment boxes.

The upcoming iOS 12 mobile software will also let users better control their use of addictive apps – like Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram.

“We have never been about maximizing the number of times you pick [the phone] up, the number of hours that you use it,” Cook said.

“[Phones] change your daily life in a great way. But if you’re getting bombarded by notifications all day long, that’s probably a use of the system that might not be so good anymore.”

Elsewhere, Cook told CNN that governments needed to step in and regulate tech firms, because “this privacy thing has gotten totally out of control.” It was a clear reference to Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Facebook, meanwhile, has defended itself vigorously against The New York Times, saying the newspaper’s interpretation of events was wrong. “These partners signed agreements that prevented people’s Facebook information from being used for any other purpose than to recreate Facebook-like experiences,” the firm said.

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