Tim Cook: Cyber privacy is a life and death issue

Author

Ashley Armstrong

February 18, 2015

Apple boss makes impassioned speech at White House cybersecurity summit about the importance of user privacy, while Obama admits he used “password” as his previous codeword

Apple chief executive Tim Cook has warned that there will be “dire consequences” if technology companies do not protect the privacy of their users.

Mr Cook was the only technology executive to attend a White House cybersecurity summit at Stanford University after Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer and Google’s Larry Page skipped the event amid growing concerns about US government surveillance.

President Obama also spoke at the summit in Silicon Valley at a time when his administration’s relationship with web giants has grown frosty over government spying tactics.

“History has shown us that sacrificing our right to privacy can have dire consequences,” Cook said in a speech.

“We still live in a world where all people are not treated equally, too many people do not feel free to practice their religion or express their opinion or love who they choose – a world in which that information can make the difference between life and death.

“If those of us in positions of responsibility fail to do everything in our power to protect the right of privacy, we risk something far more valuable than money. We risk our way of life.

“Fortunately, technology gives us the tools to avoid these risks. It is my sincere hope that by using them and by working together, we will”, the Apple boss said.

The Apple boss also used 12 minute speech to take a swipe at rivals Google and Facebook whose business models are largely based on personal data they collect about their users.

“We have a business model that focuses on selling the best products and services in the world, not on selling your personal data,” Cook said.

Cook said that he was committed to “working productively” with the government and even used the summit to announce that Apple’s mobile payment service would soon be used on government transactions including linking to social security and veterans benefits.

Meanwhile President Obama followed Cook’s impassioned speech by warning that cyber attacks were a threat to America’s economic security.

“Grappling with how the government protects the American people from adverse events while at the same time making sure that government itself is not abusing its capabilities is hard,” Obama said. “The cyber world is sort of the wild, Wild West, and to some degree we’re asked to be the sheriff.”

The American president joked that before he became educated on cyber security “password” and “1234567” used to be his security codes.

Obama finished his speech by signing an Executive Order that encourages and promotes sharing of cybersecurity threat information within the private sector and between corporates and the federal government.

This article was written by Ashley Armstrong from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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