Tim Cook says US Government still hasn't gotten privacy right

Ina Fried

The U.S. government is still collecting too much information, Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a TV interview broadcast on Monday.

Tim Cook
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

"I think it's a tough balance," Cook said in the second part of an interview with Charlie Rose. "And I don't think that the country or the government's found the right balance. I think they erred too much on the collect-everything side. And I think the president and the administration [are] committed to kind of moving that pendulum back."

Cook noted that because Apple collects relatively little information from its customers, it has been the subject of comparatively few government requests. In the last six-month period, Cook noted, Apple has been the subject of somewhere between zero and 250 requests (the smallest range that a company can disclose; the government won't allow businesses to release the exact number).

Read More

"We have hundreds and millions of customers," Cook said. "So it's a very rare instance that there's been any data asked. And one of the reasons is, we don't keep a lot. We're not the treasure trove of places to come to."

More from Re/code:
Apple iPhone privacy changes lead to layoffs at retail tracking startup Nomi
App developers seek cleaner health data privacy guidelines
Google to host meetings across Europe on privacy rights

Cook also talked about privacy as it relates to Apple's business, drawing a contrast between his company and those that make money off of their customers' data.

"Our business is not based on having information about you," Cook said. "You're not our product. Our products are these, and this watch, and Macs and so forth. And so we run a very different company. I think everyone has to ask, how do companies make their money? Follow the money. And if they're making money mainly by collecting gobs of personal data, I think you have a right to be worried."

Read More Did Apple's Tim Cook think differently enough?

Apple, of course, does collect some information, such as the massive trove of credit card information it has with iTunes. Cook's point, though, is that Apple just sells stuff, rather than selling much in the way of advertising. It does have a small mobile advertising business it started a few years back.

The first part of the interview aired on Friday, with Cook talking about his relationship with Steve Jobs, his views on the TV and Apple's acquisition of Beats.

By Ina Fried, Re/

CNBC's parent NBC Universal is an investor in Re/code's parent Revere Digital, and the companies have a content-sharing arrangement.