A complex so big, even Apple can’t escape
Tim Cook must have seen an open goal when he spoke at the European Parliament building yesterday. Calling out the “data industrial complex,” he targeted Apple’s rivals like Google and Facebook:
“Our own information — from the everyday to the deeply personal — is being weaponized against us with military efficiency,” warned Cook. “These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded and sold.”
Apple (which, I should note, failed to launch its own ad network a few years ago) can clearly take the moral high ground. It doesn’t need your data – it just needs you to buy its expensive hardware. Once you’ve done that, the information Apple collects about you is minimal.
Cook’s speech will certainly have been food for thought for attendees at the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (sounds like a fun bash). But while it’s hard to pick too many holes in his broad points, some of the criticism his talk has received shows how all-pervasive this “data industrial complex” (expect to see that phrase a lot in the future) really is.
Some pointed out
that Apple takes many millions of dollars from Google to give it default search engine status on Apple hardware. Meanwhile, Alex Stamos, Facebook’s former security chief, highlighted Apple’s less-than idealistic record in China.
“Though Stamos said he agreed with ‘almost everything’ Cook said, in a series of tweets he called out Apple for blocking the ability to download VPN and encrypted messaging apps in China, which could provide ways to connect to the internet and send messages privately and without surveillance.”
So yes Tim, the 'data industrial complex’ is a powerful thing. But it’s so powerful that it’s such an integral part of the modern world that even you can’t escape it.
Avoiding mass data collection is going to take more than just buying iPhones, iPads and MacBooks.