Tim Cook and Privacy

Matthew Panzarino, writing for TechCrunch:

Cook went on to state, as he has before when talking about products like Apple Pay, that Apple ‘doesn’t want your data.’

“We don’t think you should ever have to trade it 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 went on, getting even more explicit when talking about user privacy.

“We believe the customer should be in control of their own information. You might like these so-called free services, but we don’t think they’re worth having your email, your search history and now even your family photos data mined and sold off for god knows what advertising purpose. And we think some day, customers will see this for what it is.”

It's always very striking to me how unassuming Tim Cook can be, because there's such obvious passion that boils within him. He's not tepid by any means, but at times he can seem distant, quiet. Much more reserved than someone like Steve Jobs, whose intensity could be felt lingering in your bones through a mere photograph. It makes moments like this (and this and this), where he comes out swinging, all the more inspiring. I don't think he's merely thrashing the competition, but rather drawing a line in the sand and expressing Apple's values as a company.

Tim's a man that is unabashedly honest, and it can be hard to disregard the notion that the CEO of a giant corporation might speak out against the practices of its competitors only because it serves the interest of his business to do so, but I believe Tim Cook is the type of man to be truthful in spite of his Chiefly duties.

There's a reason Steve picked him, and I have a feeling its because Tim Cook embodies Apple within his person. He believes wholeheartedly their mission, and disregards corporate platitudes. His goal is to create the best experience for Apple's customers. Privacy is at the center of that, and Apple has been paving the way in defiance of companies like Google and Facebook. Tim himself, when coming out in his heartfelt piece for Bloomberg Business, said:

I’ll admit that this wasn’t an easy choice. Privacy remains important to me, and I’d like to hold on to a small amount of it. I’ve made Apple my life’s work, and I will continue to spend virtually all of my waking time focused on being the best CEO I can be.

This is a person whose own sequestering has probably saved himself from discrimination countless times throughout his life. He understands the value of a person's privacy, and what we sacrifice when that privacy is no longer available to us. What better person then to speak for Apple?

Some may argue that Google's incredible tech (and they do create incredible tech that presents a great first impression) is more than enough reason to eshew Apple's efforts with Photos altogether, but personally, I can't help but feel apprehension. Like Tim Cook, I value privacy a great deal. I want to be in control of what's stored and shared about myself. If I'm trusting a company with my digital life, I want to put it in the hands of a company that values me, not what value my life can bring to its actual customer.

It's hard to break away from the grasp of Google. They create some great stuff, and I definitely still use their services every day. That may not change. But I'm at a point where the importance I put on my own privacy constantly pushes me to lessen my dependency on Google, rather than add to it. While "free" is enticing, we very seldom consider the actual cost of "free."

I'd rather offer up my $3.99/month to Apple and see up front what I'm paying for.