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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Today NPR spoke directly with Apple CEO Tim Cook about the revelations that hardware makers had access to personal data in the Facebook app. NPR8217;s Laura Sydell was there and joins us now. Hi, Laura.
LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: Hello.
SHAPIRO: So what did Tim Cook say about this New York Times report that Apple may have had access to personal data collected by Facebook?
SYDELL: Well, he doesn8217;t deny that Apple may very well have had access to this information, but he says they would have no reason to use it. They wouldn8217;t bother to collect it. And here he is responding specifically. He was talking with me and NPR Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep.
TIM COOK: The things mentioned in the Times article about relationship statuses and all this kind of stuff 8211; this is so foreign to us and not data that we have ever received at all or requested 8211; zero. What we did was we integrated the ability to share in the operating system, make it simple to share a photo and that sort of thing. So it8217;s a convenience for the user. We weren8217;t in the data business. We8217;ve never been in the data business.
SYDELL: You know, Apple makes hardware. It8217;s the core of Apple8217;s business. They have some services. They have Apple Pay. They have music. But it really isn8217;t important to Apple to collect a lot of data on you so they can target average advertising to you.
SHAPIRO: So is Tim Cook opposed to the Facebook model of a free service with online advertising?
SYDELL: You know, he didn8217;t say he was opposed to it. He said it8217;s a question of degree. You shouldn8217;t just be randomly collecting as much data from people as possible. You can still have fairly targeted ads without excessively collecting personal information.
SYDELL: Well, I should be clear that, you know, Tim Cook has been very critical of Facebook8217;s model which relies on just collecting lots and lots of information. And today they actually took steps that could make it a little harder for Facebook to collect data on people who are using Macs or Apple products.
So Apple has made it easier to keep your computer anonymous while you8217;re searching the web if you8217;re using their browser. So if you visit a particular site, often sites are able to see unique identifiers for your computer, and then they follow you around after you leave the site.
So Apple found a way to mitigate that. So it now says your computer could look like any other Mac. In addition, Apple says when your browser is searching the web, they8217;ve made it more difficult for, say, a company like Facebook to track where you go, and that is definitely a way that Facebook collects information.
Later when we spoke with Tim Cook, we asked, did they introduce this as a way to directly target Facebook? And he said, no, they8217;re simply just trying to give their users more privacy, and that may affect Facebook.
SHAPIRO: That8217;s NPR8217;s Laura Sydell speaking with us from Silicon Valley. Thanks, Laura.
SYDELL: You8217;re welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR. © 2018 New Hampshire Public Radio