Tim Cook talks climate change, fake news, and more during speech to students in Italy

Tim Cook has been busy traveling Europe over the last week, and his latest stop is in Italy. The Apple CEO today made an appearance at Osservatorio Permanente, an organization focused on “training young people to be active members of their community through citizenship education.”

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Cook specifically was in attendance to give a speech at the inauguration of the 20th edition of the media literacy project “Il Quotidiano in Classe,” as reported by Macitynet. Apple first partnered with the Osservatorio Permanente back in March as part of its efforts to support media literacy.

During his speech and a subsequent question and answer session with students, Cook said that while the internet has brought many positive developments, (translated) “fake news is one of the negatives.”

“The Internet has brought so many positive things, but the fake news is one of the negatives. All of us lovers of democracy and freedom must think that separating the false from the true is the basis of freedom. Quality journalism is the foundation of every democracy and an open and free press is essential.”

Cook also reinforced the idea that Apple does not treat users “as a product” and does not sell or give away any user data:

“I believe that if each of us starts to think that everything we do is supervised and all the research and what we think are known, in time we will change our behavior. Not because there is something wrong but because with less time available, we explore less, also because of some government and companies that monitor some citizens. We will not sell your data. At Apple we will never treat you as products but as customers with dignity and respect.”

Apple has made several climate change-related announcements recently, and Cook said during the event today that Apple makes renewable energy a priority not because of regulations, but because it is a “moral imperative.” He also touched on Apple’s recent amicus brief filed in support of DACA:

“We do not do it because it is required by regulations but because it is a moral imperative. We are also supporters of immigration because the wealthy countries must accept migrants who are fleeing difficult situations and I would like young people and children, the so-called dreamer, to remain in the US to study. Education brings equality, a springboard to make sure that everyone can have equal opportunities.”

Cook wrapped up the event by leaving students with a final piece of advice about smartphone use:

“Smartphones must bring you closer to those who are far away, do not move away from those close to you. If you spend more time looking at your smartphones instead of people’s eyes, you are wrong. We make products to help you and not to waste time.”

The full details of of Cook’s appearance at the Osservatorio Permanente in Italy can be found here as well as here.

In a separate interview with Les Echos, Cook said that he’s firmly against the idea of companies setting up currencies, like what Facebook is doing with Libra.

“No. I really think that a currency should stay in the hands of countries. I’m not comfortable with the idea of a private group setting up a competing currency,” he said. “A private company shouldn’t be looking to gain power this way.” (via Reuters.)

Cook’s comments come after Apple Pay VP Jennifer Bailey said that Apple is “watching” crypto. Based on Cook’s comments today, however, it seems that Apple does not planning launching its own cryptocurrency anytime soon.

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