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Apple CEO Tim Cook gives wide ranging interview to Vice News on China, privacy and hate speech

Vice News scored an exclusive interview with the most important person at Apple last night and discussed a wide range of topics including their commitment to privacy, Apple’s relationship with China, their $1 trillion stock market valuation and how they treat the likes of Alex Jones and other Alt Right hate speech figures on their platforms.

The whole thing  is eight minutes but the main topics he addressed were:

China

Apple faced criticism earlier this year when it moved iCloud data of Chinese customers onto government-owned servers in an effort to comply with restrictive new laws in China. Several US politicians have been critical of Apple and other tech companies seemingly bending their morals to do business with the restrictive nation.

Cook defended the security of the move saying: “It’s not easy for anybody to get it. I mean it’s encrypted like it is everywhere. And so no, I wouldn’t I wouldn’t get caught up in the, ‘Where’s the location of it?’ I mean, we have servers located in many different countries in the world. They are not easier to get data from being in one country versus the next.

“If you lock your phone in China, I can’t open it. The thing about China that people have confused is that certain countries, China being one, have a requirement that data from local citizens has to be kept in China. We worked with a Chinese company to provide iCloud. But the keys are ours.”

Privacy

Cook has always publicly been strong that he believes that privacy is one of the most important issues in the 21st century and while he is not a pro-regulation person he believes it it time for action. He said: “I’m not a pro-regulation guy, but when the free market doesn’t produce a result great for society, you have to ask yourself what we need to do. We’ve got to figure out a way to take it to the next level and change some things.

“The way we go into product design is we challenge ourselves to collect as little as possible. We challenge ourselves to make it not identifiable. We don’t read your email, your messages. You are not our product. It’s not the business we’re in.

“The narrative that some companies will try to get you to believe is ‘I’ve got to take all of your data to make my service better.’ Well, don’t believe that. Whoever’s telling you that – it’s a bunch of bonk.”

Censorship

Apple pulled five of Alex Jones’ Infowars podcasts from it’s platform in August and then permanently banned the organizations’ app from the App store. Cook said this was part of the company’s efforts to provide users with a hand-curated platform experience with content personalized for them. He also reiterated that Apple does not take a political stand.

“What users want from us and what we’ve always provided them is a curated platform. We think the what the user wants is someone that does review these apps, someone that does review the podcasts, someone that on like Apple news, where a human is selecting the top stories. And that’s what we do. We don’t take a political stand.

“We’re not leaning one way or the other. You can tell that from the stuff on the App Store and in podcasts etc. You’ll see everything from very conservative to very liberal. And that’s the way I think it should be.

“I’ve never even had a conversation about [Alex Jones] with any other tech companies. We make our decisions independently and I think that’s important. Honestly. I’ve had no conversation. And to my knowledge, no one at Apple has.”

Succession

The subject of Cook’s legacy and succession at Apple arose as the final question. Cook said: “In terms of power, I’ve never felt like I have any power. It’s not how I look and think about the world. In privacy, if you look back at what Steve (Jobs) said, this is how we think, this is our culture. I think the next person, at least not in my imagination, would say it’s time to change.”

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