Cook, while speaking with Stanford graduates, touched on several issues plaguing the tech industry, including privacy violations and data leaks and hacks along with the spread of fake news and hate speech. He never mentions any company by name, but alluded to problems that businesses such as Facebook, YouTube and now-defunct firm Theranos have previously dealt with.
Lately, it seems, this industry is becoming better known for a less noble innovation: the belief that you can claim credit without accepting responsibility,” the Apple CEO said Sunday. “We see it every day now, with every data breach, every privacy violation, every blind eye turned to hate speech. Fake news poisoning our national conversation. Too many seem to think that good intentions excuse away harmful outcomes.”
“But whether you like it or not, what you build and what you create define who you are,” he continued.
“It feels a bit crazy that anyone should have to say this. But if you’ve built a chaos factory, you can’t dodge responsibility for the chaos. Taking responsibility means having the courage to think things through,” Cook said.
Cook said people will “lose the freedom to be human” if they accepted “everything in our lives can be aggregated, sold, or even leaked in the event of a hack” as the new normal.
The CEO continued by saying a world without digital privacy “would have stopped Silicon Valley” before it began flourishing.
Cook has repeatedly criticized other tech companies, including Facebook and Google, for abusing user privacy and data. At the annual Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month, Apple announced updates to its iPhone and computer software that would increase personal privacy. Among the features including iPhone users being able to bypass Facebook's and Google's sign-in services when using new apps.
Apple also introduced its own competing sign-in service that promises to be more respectful of privacy. The tech giant will mask people’s real e-mail address during logins and give apps a random string instead.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.