Apple CEO Tim Cook Blasts Data Privacy Practices
Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple Inc., criticized rival tech companies during his keynote address at European data privacy conference in Brussels today. Cook spoke to architects of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR.) He again supported Apple’s view that data privacy is a fundamental right of all tech users.
Apple delivers a premium user experience with little or no data collection, maintaining their customer’s privacy. Cooks said the business of selling ads using collected personal data has become a “data industrial complex.” He went on to say that personal information is being “weaponized against us with military efficiency.”
“We shouldn’t sugarcoat the consequences. This is surveillance. And these stockpiles of personal data serve only to enrich the companies that collect them,” Cook said. “This should make us very uncomfortable. It should unsettle us.”
Apple’s rivals like Amazon, Google, and Facebook (who also owns Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger) relentlessly collect information on their user’s behavior, preferences, and even their whereabouts.
Why All the Data Collection?
As Apple CEO Tim Cook said, personal data is collected from all the apps you use as well as your purchases through ecommerce websites and even from the brick-and-mortar stores you walk into. Social media channels like Facebook use location tracking from your own smartphone to track if a consumer made a purchase from a retail store as a result of seeing an advertisement on one of its social media channels. Google tracks consumers on their private desktop and mobile devices using their web properties – everything from the Chrome web browser to Google Maps and YouTube track what consumers watch, where they travel to and how, and even what they say!
How Do I See the Data Tracking?
Google has an entire security and privacy section available to those with a Google account like Gmail, YouTube, or others where they can view and manage their privacy settings. Google would have you believe that you can fully control what information they track about you, but that is nearly impossible. If you want to use any of their services, you’ll have to sell your soul and trade at least some of your personal data. For example, it is not possible to share your location with one person, without also giving Google access to it. I find the timeline extremely invasive and creepy.
So how do you see the metrics and what Google thinks about you? This is in the same area we’ve been talking about in the Google privacy series.
Google collects information about you and then sells access to it via its advertising platform called Google Adwords. In 2017, Google’s ad revenue amounted to almost 95.4 billion US dollars.  This is used to serve personalized adverts when you use Google Chrome, as YouTube video adverts, and even through third-parties like news sites and even for bloggers as Google AdSense Ads. It is all a revenue source for Google.
To see your personalized ad data, you must be logged into your Google account via Gmail login, YouTube, Google Maps or other Google service. Those who use the YouTube app can also go to their privacy settings, but that will simply lead you to a web page where all Google privacy settings can be adjusted.
- Scroll down to the Managing, reviewing, and updating your information section and select Ads settings
The ads personalization center does have a link to select to “Control ad personalization on other websites & apps that use Google ad services.” I went to it, but I’d have to turn off my Firefox cookie and ad blocker to use it. LOL.
Statista Google’s ad revenue from 2001 to 2017 (in billion U.S. dollars)