To listen to the reactionaries bred by the Koch Brothers’ millions, all government regulation is bad. Our #FakePresident likes to call them “job killing regulations” while muttering a mantra he heard somewhere about government picking winners and losers. It all started with Ronnie Rayguns and his “I’m from the government and I’m here to help” trope, a line that got gales of laughter wherever reactionaries gathered to bask in their collective smugness.
The nutballs who spew this kind of lunacy would like you to believe that business will do whatever is necessary to protect the interests of society without Big Brother horning in on the conversation and ordering people around. Even after the banks and insurance companies broke the global economy in 2007 as they gorged themselves in an orgy of gluttony, people still believe the Grade A horse puckey from the reactionary right.
There’s a simple answer to such silliness. Every sport in the history of the world has umpires and referees. Imagine a football game without the zebras on the field. Economics is just a game in which people strategize how to remove the most number of dollars from your wallet and add them to their own stash. Take away regulations and regulators and you have what amounts to a criminal enterprise devoid of ethics. One could argue that is a reasonably accurate description of the US government in the Age of Trump.
Facebook has been roundly criticized lately for amassing terabytes of personal data and selling it to the highest bidder to do whatever they want with it. Frat boy Mark Zuckerberg and his top henchmen complain that we are at fault for letting it happen. Everything they do was made perfectly clear in their terms of service agreement and privacy policies — assuming that people routinely read reams of fine print every time they go online.
Tim Cook Blasts Facebook & Google
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, sees things differently. In an interview with Kara Swisher of Recode and Chris Hayes of MSNBC scheduled to air April 6, he tells the two hosts, “I think the best regulation is no regulation, is self-regulation. However, I think we’re beyond that here.” He then goes on to blast Facebook and Google for their despicable business ethics — assuming they have any at all.
“The truth is, we could make a ton of money if we monetized our customer — if our customer was our product,” Cook added. “We’ve elected not to do that. We’re not going to traffic in your personal life. Privacy to us is a human right, a civil liberty.” When Swisher asked Cook what he would do if he were Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, he shot back, “I wouldn’t be in this situation.”
Apple has a history of questioning the business ethics of Facebook, Google, and other internet technology companies. In 2010, Apple founder Steve Jobs told Swisher, “Privacy means people know what they’re signing up for — in plain English, and repeatedly.”
Not The First Time Cook Has Spoken Out
Cook picked up on that theme in 2015. In a video conference speech to the Electronic Privacy Information Center, he said, “I’m speaking to you from Silicon Valley, where some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information. They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong and it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.”
He added, “We believe the customer should be in control of their own information. You might like these so-called free services, but we don’t think they’re worth having your email, your search history and now even your family photos (referring to Google Photos) data mined and sold off for God knows what advertising purpose. And we think some day, customers will see this for what it is.”
As Mark Zuckerberg slinks down to Washington with his tail between his legs to testify before Congress about his company’s egregious behavior, “some day” may be closer than we think. Even in the absence of government regulation, a company that scrupulously protects it customers’ privacy may find itself with a significant competitive edge in the marketplace.
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