Apple CEO Tim Cook credits Steve Jobs with fostering culture of privacy

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Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook credited Steve Jobs with making privacy a top priority at the company and said he largely still runs the tech giant in the manner of its late co-founder.

Cook, speaking at a Code Conference panel on Wednesday about Jobs’s legacy, said Apple has tried to ensure that privacy doesn’t get lost in a surveillance-driven world.

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“I think he saw that and saw that well, and I have every reason to believe he would have put up good arguments and good fights along the way,” Cook said during the talk, alongside former Apple Chief Design Officer Jony Ive and Laurene Powell Jobs.

The discussion, led by journalist Kara Swisher, followed a major product launch event on Wednesday morning, when the company unveiled new iPhones, AirPods and smartwatches. Privacy was a theme of that presentation as well, with Apple saying it would protect sensitive user information, such as women’s health data.

Apple has drawn outcry in the past year for tightening its rules about advertising in apps -- a move social media companies have said has hurt their revenue.

Cook said at the Code event on Wednesday that “digital advertising is not a bad thing.”

“What is not good is vacuuming up people’s data when it’s not on an informed basis,” he said. “We try to put the user in the driver seat there to own their data.”

Cook -- who became CEO in 2011, the year Jobs died -- said the company still holds his predecessor’s traditional weekly 9 am Monday meeting with all of the top executives.

“The company is still run in many ways as Steve did,” said Cook, 61.

Ive, who left Apple to start his own design firm in 2019, said Jobs’s focus was never selling more units. “I’ve never met somebody so curious and so inquisitive,” Ive said.

Powell Jobs, the founder of the Emerson Collective and Jobs’s widow, recalls his push to simplify Apple after his time away from the company. At the time, he reduced the number of offerings to just four main product lines.

“He was very concerned about the business,” she said. “He often talked about leaving behind a body of work, like an artist does.”

Jobs believed that you get a better answer by debating, “sometimes taking a position he didn’t even believe, just to get the discussion flowing,” Cook said. He was one in “a gazillion.”

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