During his interview in Sway podcast with Kara Swisher, Tim Cook touched on the subject of App Tracking Transparency, Steve Jobs’ take on privacy, Facebook’s response, and competition with the social media company.
Tim Cook talks about app tracking transparency privacy update coming in a few weeks to iOS
Cook had said during his speech at a recent privacy conference that the freedom to be human is lost if everything is aggregated and sold. Devices know what the user is even thinking because they type and search for what they are looking for. Of course, Apple’s devices enable all this but Apple speaks up about privacy because the company believes that it is a basic human right. He reminded Kara that this was not a recent change or a marketing message from Apple, as Steve Jobs spoke about privacy over a decade ago during an interview with her. Jobs had said that users should know, in clear words, what they are signing up for, and who gets to use their data, and how.
Cook said that he was appalled by the amount of data that is being scraped from users, and this is why Apple introduced privacy nutrition labels. Apple plans to continue to work on them and improve them down the road so that users know what they are giving to the app developers when it comes to their data and privacy. He also brought up App Tracking Transparency (ATT), a hotly discussed topic, and how it gives control to users on Apple devices. iOS 14.5 update will enable this feature for all users, and it will be released in a few weeks, as per Tim.
With ATT, users will see a consent pop-up so they can choose whether they want to allow the app to track them or not. Developers can educate users on why they should provide access, but in the end, the individual will get to decide what happens to their data.
Facebook had put out ads against the ATT update and said that this will only help Apple’s bottom line. The social media company stressed that this will impact small businesses that use its platform to reach customers by paying the company to run ads. Tim Cook said that it is hard to argue against ATT and that he was surprised. He called the arguments flimsy and said that businesses can make money even with privacy-respecting ads.
The Apple CEO said that while the company competes against Facebook in some areas, he does not see them as their competitor as Apple is not in the social networking business. When asked a long time ago regarding what Tim Cook would do if he was in Mark Zuckerberg’s position, he had popularly said that he would not be in that situation. In reference to that, he said that he can only talk about the choices that Apple makes, and he feels very good about the company’s steps towards privacy and security.
The complete podcast episode is embedded below.