Apple CEO Tim Cook says the Cupertino company isn’t “against digital advertising.”
Apple is preparing to introduce new privacy features across iOS, putting App Tracking Transparency tools in place to give users better control of their data and prevent apps and websites tracking them without expressed permission.
In an interview with the Toronto Star, the Apple CEO said taking these steps has been “somewhat controversial,” but also argues strongly that it’s appropriate to protect iOS users against such surveillance.
Cook called the current situation “urgent,” and emphasized that the Cupertino company isn’t against digital advertising:
We’re not against digital advertising. I think digital advertising is going to thrive in any situation, because more and more time is spent online, less and less is spent on linear TV. And digital advertising will do well in any situation. The question is, do we allow the building of this detailed profile to exist without your consent?
The Apple executive noted that the upcoming tracking changes in iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5 and tvOS 14.5 are about letting customers decide whether they want to be tracked on a per-app basis:
It’s about giving the user the option to be tracked or not. It seems so basic, but it’s been somewhat controversial. We feel so much that it’s our responsibility to help our users be able to make this decision. We’re not going to make the decision for them. Because it’s not our decision either. It should be each of ours’ as to what happens with our data. Who has it and how they use it
Cook also addressed the issue of some major companies like Proctor & Gamble reportedly searching for ways to get around App Tracking Transparency, saying that the practice is because companies will now find it more difficult to build profiles on their users:
The only reason why you would push back is if you believe you’ll get less data. The only reason you would get less data is because people are consciously deciding not to do it and were not being asked before.
“We feel so much that it’s our responsibility to help our users be able to make this decision. We’re not going to make the decision for them. Because it’s not our decision either. It should be each of ours’ as to what happens with our data. Who has it and how they use it,” Cook said.
Cook’s remarks about Facebook mark the latest in an escalating war of words between the companies regarding privacy.