Tim Cook Explains Why Privacy Is at a Crisis Point

In an exclusive interview, Christiane Amanpour sits down with Apple CEO Tim Cook to discuss why privacy is at a crisis point and the government needs to step in.

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TIM COOK: My message is that we need to deeply look inside ourselves and ask us what kind of world we want to live in. The fact is, now, you have more information on your devices, than you do in your own homes, and this is a major change over the last several years. And so, we are trying to raise the level of awareness and to ask countries all around the world to begin considering legislation over what companies can do and what they can’t do.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Well look, that’s really interesting because it’s an issue of great controversy, especially in the United States, not so much here in Europe where they have a whole new data protection regulations, there’s a lot more regulation here, presumably of all your content than in the United States. Do you — where do you see the parameters of regulation?

COOK: Yes.

AMANPOUR: Because you have called for a Federal regulation, right?

COOK: Yes. You know, usually I’m not a bit pro-regulation kind of person. I believe in free markets. But I think we have to admit when a free market doesn’t work and taking action. And in this case, it’s clear that the amount of things that can be collected about you, without your knowledge, maybe with your consent, although it’s a 70-page legal piece of paper, just isn’t reasonable. And these things can be used for such nefarious things. We have seen examples of this over the last several years and we think it’s time now to take this thing and put it under control. Because if we don’t, the problem gets so large that it may be impossible to fix.

AMANPOUR: Well, you actually were quite blunt in your speech today just on this issue, you are talking about profiles, people’s profiles.

COOK: Yes.

AMANPOUR: Your profile is run through algorithms and can serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into hardened convictions and then you say, we shouldn’t sugarcoat the consequences. This is surveillance.

COOK: Yes.

AMANPOUR: That’s pretty controversial.

COOK: Well, it’s the truth. And I always get back to that, it’s what is the truth and I do see it as a crisis. I see privacy as one of the top issues, the top few issues of this century and it’s to that level and because of the number of nefarious things that can happen. And I advocate to put the user in control, completely in control of their data in a very transparent manner and, you know, there’s a lot more behind that than that, but that’s the spirit of it.

AMANPOUR: And you said —

COOK: Your data is yours, it’s not mine.

AMANPOUR: — if we don’t get a grip and you’re saying —

COOK: Yes.

AMANPOUR: — take industry doesn’t get a grip, if the market doesn’t get a grip then either it can get out of control or others can impose regulations at some point. I mean —

COOK: Well, but just to be clear though — I’m sorry to interrupt.

AMANPOUR: No please.

COOK: I’m not saying this to the tech industry. This is a broader than the tech industry

About This Episode EXPAND

Christiane Amanpour interviews Apple CEO Tim Cook. Michel Martin speaks with journalist Beth Macy, author of “Dopesick.”