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Apple guards data privacy even in China, says Tim Cook

San Francisco

APPLE chief executive Tim Cook on Tuesday said the company is devoted to protecting people's privacy, with data encrypted and locked away on servers even in China.

Mr Cook called privacy one of the most important issues of this century, and maintained that the US-based technology colossus even safeguards data that Chinese law requires it to keep stored in that country.

"We worked with a Chinese company to provide iCloud," Mr Cook said, referring to Apple's service for storing digital content in the Internet cloud during an interview with Vice News. "But, the keys to the data are ours."

Mr Cook said Apple hosts data on servers in an array of countries, but it is not easy for local authorities to get access. China is known for tight Internet controls, prompting worries about the privacy of data stored there by Apple.

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When asked about a recent security breach revealed by Facebook, Mr Cook once again championed the importance of protecting people's information in a time when smartphones can reveal so much about them.

Mr Cook has repeatedly stressed that Apple's business model does not involve gathering user data and targeting them with ads, the way Internet giants Facebook and Google make money. "You are not our product," Mr Cook said. "We don't create a profile and allow other companies to target you. That is not the business we are in."

Apple, valued at more than a trillion dollars based on its share price, makes most of its money from iPhone sales. The Silicon Valley company has been working to ramp up revenue from digital content and online services, such as streaming music and data storage.

Mr Cook said that while he is a fan of the free market, he supports the idea of legislation aimed at protecting people's privacy. "I think there is a need to work with Congress and the staff to make sure we do our jobs of helping them come up to speed on what's possible," he said. AFP

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