Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, speaks in Brussels, on October 24, 2018.
ARis Oikonomou | AFP | Getty Images
Apple CEO Tim Cook warned that Silicon Valley companies needed to take responsibility for the “chaos” they create in a speech Sunday at Stanford University.
Although Cook did not mention companies by name, his commencement speech in Silicon Valley’s backyard mentioned data breaches, privacy violations, and even made reference to Theranos, a disgraced startup.
“Lately it seems this industry is becoming better known for a less noble innovation – the belief you can claim credit without accepting responsibility,” Cook said. “We see it every day now with every data breach, every privacy violation, every blind eye turned to hate speech, fake news poisoning out national conversation, the false miracles in exchange for a single drop of your blood.”
He continued: “It feels a bit crazy that anyone should have to say this, but if you built a chaos factory, you can’t dodge responsibility for the chaos.”
It’s the latest in a series of speeches from Cook in which he has has discussed his views on data security while criticizing Google, Facebook, and other technology companies for their approach to user data and privacy, usually without naming those companies. Apple advertises privacy as a key iPhone feature and recently released a privacy-focused sign-on feature that competes with Google and Facebook.
Cook told the new Stanford graduates that digital surveillance threatened innovation and would have “stopped Silicon Valley before it got started.”
“If we accept as normal and unavoidable that everything in our lives can be aggregated, sold and even leaked in the event of a hack, then we lose so much more than data. We lose the freedom to be human,” Cook said in the commencement speech.
The rest of the speech touched on themes including how to leave a legacy and advice to the students on how to follow their own paths.
In January, Cook called for a Federal Trade Commission “clearinghouse” that would enable people to track and delete the personal data held by companies.
Watch the full speech: