Tim Cook, the Apple CEO, made some strong pro-privacy statements while addressing the White House’s Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection held at Stanford University. He minced no words while urging government and tech companies to work in unison for safeguarding the privacy of their consumers. He even warned of ‘dire consequences’ if the latter fail to protect the privacy of those who use their products.
Not a man of too many words, Cook gave a brief 12 minute speech in which he touched the topic of user privacy most effectively.
Giving up our privacy to digital technologies exposes us to greater risks than just identity theft and financial losses—serious though those things are, Cook said on Friday.
“History has shown us that sacrificing our right to privacy can have dire consequences,” Cook said.
“We still live in a world where all people are not treated equally,” he said, “where too many people do not feel free to practice their religion or express their opinion or love who they choose, a world in which that information can make the difference between life or death.”
There is no doubt that he was taking a dig at companies like Facebook and Google which are earning billions out of collecting personal data of their users and storing them on to their huge servers.
Additionally, that was also perhaps a reference to oppressive regimes in closed societies which come down heavily against citizens for political beliefs or their sexual orientation. But when analysts viewed his comments from a wider angle, coming as they do while speaking to an audience consisting of U.S. policy makers, his remarks are also a reminder of the government’s need to protect privacy as it conducts its digital surveillance campaigns.
“If those of us in positions of responsibility fail to do everything in our power to protect the right of privacy, we risk something far more valuable than money. We risk our way of life,” he said.
It is to be noted that while other tech giants like Google and Microsoft sent out only their representatives at the summit, Apple chose to send their CEO himself. This, according to experts, reflects the widening rift between Silicon Valley and the U.S. government over its surveillance programs.