In his speech, Cook first discussed the tradeoff between privacy and security that consumers are increasingly forced to make.
“Like many of you, we at Apple reject the idea that our customers should have to make tradeoffs between privacy and security,” Cook started. “We can, and we must provide both in equal measure. We believe that people have a fundamental right to privacy. The American people demand it, the constitution demands it, morality demands it.”
Cook then directed his comments to companies in Silicon Valley, such as Facebook and Google who often rely on advertisements and consumer data to make money. Cook noted how Apple's services, like Apple Pay, do not want your data. This is especially true as Apple makes the move into health and the home.
“I’m speaking to you from Silicon Valley, where some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information,” said Cook. “They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be. We don’t think you should ever have to trade it for a service you think is free but actually comes at a very high cost."
Cook became even more explicit about how other companies are taking in customer information in exchange for advertisements. Cook noted that while there are lots of "free services" that store your search history, emails, and "now even your family photos," the tradeoff of personal data is not worth it. Google just launched their Photos app that lets you store unlimited amounts of photos in the cloud, compared to Apple's 5GB of iCloud storage.
Cook switched gears to talk about encryption. Apple and other companies in Silicon Valley have been under attack by government agencies for wanting to encrypt data on devices, making it difficult for law enforcement to read and access devices. Cook described such attacks as dangerous.
“We think this is incredibly dangerous. We’ve been offering encryption tools in our products for years, and we’re going to stay on that path. We think it’s a critical feature for our customers who want to keep their data secure. For years we’ve offered encryption services like iMessage and FaceTime because we believe the contents of your text messages and your video chats is none of our business.”
“If you put a key under the mat for the cops, a burglar can find it, too. Criminals are using every technology tool at their disposal to hack into people’s accounts. If they know there’s a key hidden somewhere, they won’t stop until they find it,” Cook continued.
Cook made the argument that removing encryption from their products would only hurt law-abiding citizens. The "bad guys" would still encrypt their data since its so easy and readily available. Cook took is a step further, saying that weakening encryption, or taking it away, would have "a chilling effect on our First Amendment rights" as it "undermines our country’s founding principles.”
While Apple likes to stay away from collecting data, in some cases it could be argued that an enhanced user experience requires such data collection. Apple does currently collect some data from consumers to improve the iOS and OS X experience, but most of the time, its anonymized (stripped of personal information).
It will be interesting to see if Apple's position on data collection going forward as rumors have hinted it may have to develop a more relaxed position.