by Brandon Butler
Dear Mark, Love Apple 1/28/2021

Apple CEO Tim Cook gave a speech (Sound warning: YouTube link) at the Computers, Privacy & Data Protection 2021 conference on how Apple views data privacy and the steps they take to protect it:

Technology does not need vast troves of personal data, stitched together across dozens of websites and apps, in order to succeed. Advertising existed and thrived for decades without it. And we’re here today because the path of least resistance is rarely the path of wisdom.

If a business is built on misleading users, on data exploitation, on choices that are no choices at all, then it does not deserve our praise. It deserves reform.

We should not look away from the bigger picture.

At a moment of rampant disinformation and conspiracy theories juiced by algorithms, we can no longer turn a blind eye to a theory of technology that says all engagement is good engagement — the longer the better — and all with the goal of collecting as much data as possible.

Too many are still asking the question, “how much can we get away with?,” when they need to be asking, “what are the consequences?”

Cook might as well have addressed this speech, “Dear Mark,” because if he’s talking to anyone else, I can’t imagine who it is.

This transcript is provided by Jason Snell at Six Colors. The audio in the video is really bad, but I think it’s worth listening to Cook’s words while reading along with Snell’s transcript. [Update: Apple has posted the original, clean video on their (ironically) YouTube page. I’ve updated the link at the top of this post.] Cook is an incredibly measured speaker, but there are some points where you can hear the frustration and the concern in his voice.