Apple CEO Tim Cook once again reiterated his company's emphasis on privacy when speaking at Salesforce's Dreamforce conference on Tuesday.
In conversation with Salesforce founder and co-CEO Marc Benioff, Cook said that privacy is a factor that must be present throughout the development process when creating new products, rather than being incorporated after the fact. His comments come at a time when large tech firms are under increasing scrutiny over how they handle consumer data.
“You don't bolt-on privacy,” Cook said. “You think about it in the development process of products. You can see what happens when companies wake up one day and decide they're going to do something privacy wise. You just can't do it. You have to design it in.”
Lawmakers have grilled executives from Google and Facebook over concerns about how the companies collect and handle consumer data in recent months. Google CEO Sundar Pichai appeared before Congress to answer questions about the types of data Google collects among other topics, such as whether or not Google's search results are biased.
Facebook has also been in the middle of several privacy blunders in recent years, the most significant being the Cambridge Analytica scandal that was unearthed in 2018. The Guardian and The New York Times both reported in 2018 that Cambridge Analytica, a political analytics firm with ties to the Trump campaign, harvested data from the profiles of more than 50 million Facebook users.
Cook has been increasingly vocal about Apple's focus on privacy in recent years amid increasing concerns about how large tech firms are handling consumer data. The Apple CEO has said on several occasions that privacy is a fundamental human right, and the company has made privacy the center of some of its advertisements. In 2016, Apple rejected the FBI's demand that the company create a version of its iOS operating system that would allow law enforcement to gain access to the locked phone of a San Bernardino shooting suspect. Cook at the time said the FBI wanted Apple to create “the software equivalent of cancer.” The FBI later backed down.
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