Archive for June 3, 2015

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Tim Cook on Encryption, Privacy

Matthew Panzarino:

Yesterday evening, Apple CEO Tim Cook was honored for ‘corporate leadership’ during EPIC’s Champions of Freedom event in Washington. Cook spoke remotely to the assembled audience on guarding customer privacy, ensuring security and protecting their right to encryption.

“Like many of you, we at Apple reject the idea that our customers should have to make tradeoffs between privacy and security,” Cook opened. “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 said that Apple designs its products to “collect the minimum amount of data necessary to create great experiences.”

Thomas Ricker:

“You might like these so-called free services, but we don’t think they’re worth having your email or your search history or now even your family photos data-mined and sold off for God knows what advertising purpose.”

This statement, in my admittedly cynical opinion, is FUD — an effort to spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Cook and co. might truly believe it, but this is a thinly veiled lobbying effort to make us question the very business model of its competitors.

John Gruber:

Apple needs to provide best-of-breed services and privacy, not second-best-but-more-private services. Many people will and do choose convenience and reliability over privacy. Apple’s superior position on privacy needs to be the icing on the cake, not their primary selling point.

It is nice that Apple sells products rather than eyeballs, but I don’t think this makes much difference for privacy. Google is not doing anything nefarious with the data. Apple is still collecting and storing tons of data that it deems “necessary,” and there’s no guarantee that it won’t somehow leak.

Update (2015-06-04): Nick Heer:

I’ve alluded to this before, but I’m not sure Apple can provide a Google-equivalent quality of cloud service while keeping things private.


Apple struggles with this kind of machine learning prowess because they don’t operate services in the same way that Google does. They don’t analyze user-provided data in aggregate; they often even keep a single user’s information siloed across multiple services.

Anil Dash:

It’s great that Cook so strongly pushes for privacy, but then Apple should kill iAds & block tracking by default, too.

Hacker News also has some comments about Panzarino’s article.

Manton Reece:

I’m going to give you a very cynical translation, which I don’t often do: We are in denial about how much better Google Photos is than what we’re doing at Apple. It is so advanced in terms of search that we won’t be able to match it anytime soon. In fact, we don’t even have anyone working on similar technology at all.

Update (2015-06-05): Cabel Sasser:

The (sad) core problem with Apple/Tim Cook’s privacy stance: nobody cares. If the alternative is free, better privacy is meaningless.

* nobody = 3% of some nerds care

Thunderbolt 3

Jason Snell:

A Thunderbolt 3 port will look like a USB-C port. They’re plug compatible. So if you plug in a USB-C device to a Thunderbolt 3 port, it should just work as you’d expect. And older Thunderbolt devices can still be used with Thunderbolt 3 via an adapter.


There’s also the issue of driving 5K displays. Intel’s announcements about Thunderbolt 3 mention that it supports DisplayPort 1.2, which can drive high-resolution displays, but doesn’t appear to have enough bandwidth to drive a 5K display via a single connection. (It can definitely do it via two cables.) The new DisplayPort 1.3 specification, which is being finalized, is supposed to support 5K displays via a single cable. It would be silly if a brand-new technology like Thunderbolt 3 shipped without the ability to drive 5K displays via a single cable, but that might be the case. We’ll have to wait and see.

Finally, there’s one other catch about Thunderbolt 3 adopting the USB-C connector: Room for confusion. You should be able to plug any USB-C device into a Thunderbolt 3 port without trouble. But if you’ve got a computer (like the new MacBook) that supports USB-C but not Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt peripherals (indicated by the lightning-bolt Thunderbolt logo rather than the USB logo) just won’t work (even though you can plug them in).

Commenters are saying that Thunderbolt 3 does support 5K displays via a single cable. I’ve seen on mentions on Twitter of various other minor caveats, but overall it sounds great to me.