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Apple boss takes a swipe at Google, says users should be worried about data collection

Apple boss Tim Cook took a swipe at the likes of Google during part two of his recent interview with Charlie Rose, which aired Monday night.

Focusing on areas of privacy and data collection, Cook said: “Our business is based on selling [hardware]. Our business is not based on having information about you. You’re not our product….we run a very different company.”

He explained that when his company designs a new service, it tries not to collect data, insisting that encryption means Apple couldn’t gather information from emails and iMessages even if it wanted to. Google, which makes much of its revenue from targeted ads, was mentioned by Rose in his question, though Cook refrained from referring to the Web giant by name.

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The man who took over from Steve Jobs as CEO in 2011 said consumers should be concerned about the methods companies use to generate revenue, saying, “I think people have to ask, ‘How do companies make their money?’ If they’re making money mainly by collecting gobs of personal data, I think you have a right to be worried, and you should really understand what’s happening with that data, and the companies should be very transparent about it.”

Cook said he believes the issues of privacy and data collection will be “a very key topic over the next year or so and will reach higher and higher levels of urgency as more and more incidents happen.”

His comments come as the Cupertino company prepares to launch its Apple Pay service and Health app, both of which will involve sending personal information such as credit card details and health data to Apple, albeit in encrypted form.

Related: Apple goes all in on health

On the subject of revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden that the National Security Agency has been secretly collecting data from Web users for years, Cook again insisted there were no back doors to its servers, nor will it ever allow there to be any.

“We would never allow that to happen – they’d have to cart us out in a box before we would do that,” the tech boss said, adding, “We finally got agreement from the administration to release how many times we had national security orders on Apple and in the six-month period – we had to release a range because they won’t let us say the exact number – it’s between 0 and 250.” In contrast, Google’s latest transparency report showed it received 32,000 data requests from governments around the world in the first six months of this year. The Mountain View company handed over data in about 65 percent of cases.

Besides having a dig at Google, Cook’s words were also designed to instill confidence in users wary about using Apple Pay and Health, which launch soon with iOS 8. In addition, the Apple boss is keen to reassure customers that their data is secure on its servers, especially in light of the recent iCloud celebrity photo hack.