“We see it every day now with every data breach, every privacy violation, every blind eye turned to hate speech, fake news poisoning out national conversation, the false miracles in exchange for a single drop of your blood.”

By Ian Horswill


Posted on June 17, 2019

Apple CEO Tim Cook did not name them but the target for his comments was crystal clear – Facebook and YouTube.

Cook, in giving the 2019 commencement speech at the highly regarded Stanford University in Stanford, California, that has fostered the careers of high-profile Silicon Valley executives Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who co-founded Google; and Reed Hastings, the Netflix CEO, mentioned data breaches, privacy violations, and even made reference to Theranos, a disgraced startup company.

“Lately it seems this industry is becoming better known for a less noble innovation – the belief you can claim credit without accepting responsibility,” Cook said in the commencement speech. “We see it every day now with every data breach, every privacy violation, every blind eye turned to hate speech, fake news poisoning out national conversation, the false miracles in exchange for a single drop of your blood.”

He continued: “It feels a bit crazy that anyone should have to say this, but if you built a chaos factory, you can’t dodge responsibility for the chaos.”

Cook has of late been keen to highlight data security while criticising Google, Facebook, and other technology companies for their approach to user data and privacy, usually without naming those companies. Apple advertises privacy as a key iPhone feature and recently released a privacy-focused sign-on feature that competes with Google and Facebook.

Cook told the new Stanford graduates that digital surveillance threatened innovation and would have “stopped Silicon Valley before it got started.”

“If we accept as normal and unavoidable that everything in our lives can be aggregated, sold and even leaked in the event of a hack, then we lose so much more than data. We lose the freedom to be human,” Cook said.

To enhance privacy, Cook at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference, touted a new feature called Sign In WIth Apple, a VPN-like feature which allows users to sign in to a website with a randomly generated fake address, albeit one tied to your Apple ID. The fake address will stop websites from tracking individual user private data.