Tim Cook says Apple doesn’t need your data, but will protect it

When it comes to personal data, Apple Inc. wants to protect it, not make money off it, Chief Executive Tim Cook said in an interview that aired Tuesday night.

In a wide-ranging interview Vice News Tonight on HBO, Cook said privacy is “one of the most important issues” today, and he’d be open to “some level” of government regulation to meet its challenges. Cook said Apple takes data privacy “very seriously,” and noted it isn’t in the business of selling user data and tries to “collect as little as possible.”

Cook also rejected the idea that Apple’s privacy safeguards put its Siri digital assistant at a competitive disadvantage when compared to rival devices that claim their AI needs access to more personal data to be more effective.

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“The narrative that some companies will try to get you to believe is ‘I’ve got to take all of your data to make my service better.’ Well, don’t believe that. Whoever’s telling you that — it’s a bunch of bunk,” he told Vice News Tonight’s Elle Reeve.

Cook called privacy a human right, and defended Apple’s business in China, dismissing concerns that the Chinese government — or any other country’s — could access customer data.

“Encryption for us is the same in every country in the world,” he said. “We don’t design encryption for, you know, for the U.S. and do it differently everywhere else, it’s the same. And so to send a message in China, it’s encrypted, I can’t produce the content. I can’t produce it in the United States either.

“We have servers located in many different countries in the world. They are not easier to get data from being in one country versus the next,” Cook added.

Cook also discussed Apple’s human content curation, and the decision earlier this year to drop right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones‘ Infowars from Apple podcasts and its App Store.

“We don’t take a political stand,” he said. “We’re not leaning one way or the other. You can tell that from the stuff on the App Store and in podcasts etc. You’ll see everything from very conservative to very liberal. And that’s the way I think it should be.”

Cook said he did not discuss the decision to pull Infowars content with any of Apple’s Silicon Valley neighbors, and that Facebook FB, -1.91% , Alphabet’s GOOGL, -0.07%  YouTube and Twitter TWTR, -0.42% later banned Jones and Infowars on their own. “We make our decisions independently and I think that’s important,” he said.

Apple shares AAPL, +0.89%  are up more than 35% year to date, compared to the 8.3% gain for the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.46% , of which Apple is a component.

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