We could be talking days and days about how technology and politics are increasingly coming together, but let’s focus on one undeniable fact: every technology giant has a legion of lawyers trying to influence politicians for the benefit of the company. And all CEOs have held conversations with high-level politicians on a regular basis. All… except Steve Jobs.
Pictures like this one from February 2011, where we see Steve next to the President of the United States, are very rare. Apple’s co-founder didn’t want to mix politics into his work while all his rivals did. But four years after Tim Cook took the reins at Cupertino, things are changing .
A recent Politico article describes it using one of the meetings Apple’s CEO had some time ago with Eric Holder, head of the US Department of Justice after he sued the company over the prices of his ebooks. Eric knew that there was going to be an argument with a certain tone because of that, but even then he was surprised to agree with many opinions and to see that Tim attended meetings with an open mind.
Since then, Cook has met with many more prominent figures in American politics. After Snowden’s leaks, he has wanted to defend privacy before members of Congress even thanking the activist for what he did, and in fact Apple has already been in discussions with some agencies around the country after iMessage’s point-to-point encryption became too much even for the DEA. To date, Apple has sought to carefully report on what the NSA is asking and why it is doing so in some releases.
Since becoming Apple’s CEO, Tim has met with many politicians to discuss user privacy
Apple was also part of a public letter in which a group of major technology companies asked the United States Government for a change in the way users were monitored, as a result of excessive requests for data from the administration. And a few days later, Tim and several other executives were able to meet with President Barack Obama himself to discuss the matter face to face. These are things that in Steve Jobs’ time would have been much harder to see.
More recently, Tim Cook has also had to defend himself against some allegations that Apple opened a “back door” for the NSA to monitor his data . It is not bad to remember the interview that Charlie Rose gave him in his program, where Tim strongly promised that Apple does not monitor its users as some rivals do.
There have been many meetings with many politicians, many public letters and many interviews. It’s perhaps one of the things that has surprised us most about the passage from Steve Jobs to Tim Cook.
Another point with which Tim has become very directly involved is with tolerance by taking a stand against discrimination of any kind. Apple was already reporting on labor liability with Steve Jobs on the throne, but Tim has shown more commitment by publicly expressing his support for American acts such as ENDA (which eventually became law).
Apple has been one of the companies that has published the most data on how the origin, culture, identity and sexual orientation of employees has zero influence on their hiring . Another gesture he made was to declare himself openly gay ” in spite of trying to lead a private life ” to motivate everyone who is to be so to not be afraid.
Little by little, Tim Cook gets involved in the politics of his home country seeing that he can influence them as Apple’s CEO. And what I particularly like is that he does so not on the basis of law firms convincing government representatives to implement measures that give them an advantage (or at least not as much as others), but on the basis of openly defending the advances in tolerance and the defense of everyone’s privacy.