Tim Cook takes aim at Google with letter outlining Apple’s privacy policy

Chinas Commerce Minister meets Apples Cook in Beijing

Apple CEO Tim Cook has taken a swipe at Google in a new letter that outlines Apple’s focus on protecting user privacy. “At Apple, your trust means everything to us,” Cook writes, before describing how exactly the company keeps our data safe and secure.

“Security and privacy are fundamental to the design of all our hardware, software, and services, including iCloud and new services like Apple Pay,” Cook continues in the letter published on Apple’s website, alongside new pages that explain Apple’s privacy policies.

The letter continues:

We believe in telling you up front exactly what’s going to happen to your personal information and asking for your permission before you share it with us. And if you change your mind later, we make it easy to stop sharing with us. Every Apple product is designed around those principles. When we do ask to use your data, it’s to provide you with a better user experience.

We’re publishing this website to explain how we handle your personal information, what we do and don’t collect, and why. We’re going to make sure you get updates here about privacy at Apple at least once a year and whenever there are significant changes to our policies.

Cook takes several swipes at Google’s business model, without actually naming its rival. “A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realize that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer,” he writes. “You’re the product. But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy.”

Cook adds that Apple’s model “is very straightforward.” Because the Cupertino company sells products — incredibly successful products — it doesn’t need to “monetize” the information stored on our iOS devices or in iCloud by selling it to advertisers (like Google does).

“And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you,” Cook continues. “Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple.”

Cook notes that Apple does serve advertisers with its iAd service, but he insists this follows the same privacy policies every other Apple product abides by. It doesn’t collect any of your data from anywhere, and you can opt out of it at any time.

Cook ends by reiterating that Apple has never worked with any government agency in any country to “create a backdoor” in any of its products or services — or allowed access to its servers.

“Our commitment to protecting your privacy comes from a deep respect for our customers,” he concludes. “We know that your trust doesn’t come easy. That’s why we have and always will work as hard as we can to earn and keep it.”

You can read Cook’s letter in full, and find out more about Apple’s privacy policies, via its new Privacy website.