Tim Cook’s blistering attack on Google Photos: Why it matters

As if reading my mind — or my Sunday column — Tim Cook lashed out Monday at companies like Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOG) that are in the business of mining their users’ personal data and selling it to advertisers.

The attack on Google was particularly sharp, coming as it did four days after Google launched Google Photo Backup — a free service that, in my humble opinion, put Apple’s (AAPL) balky iCloud Photos Library to shame.

The remarks, delivered by teleconference to the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s Champions of Freedom event, were reported by TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino:

“I’m speaking to you from Silicon Valley, where some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information. They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be…

“You might like these so-called free services, but we don’t think they’re worth having your email, your search history and now even your family photos data mined and sold off for god knows what advertising purpose. And we think some day, customers will see this for what it is.”

It’s taken me some time, but I’m coming around to Cook’s point of view.

Two days after I made the decision to let Google — not Apple — be the repository for 16 years of family photos, I started to have second thoughts. Ever since, Google’s bots have been busily sorting through my 30,000 photos, identifying faces, putting together GIFs, assembling family trip albums — complete with maps and dotted travel lines. I’m getting a little creeped out.

Still, I have to believe that Apple’s best response to Google Photos is not to make a speech, but to make a better product.

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Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at fortune.com/ped or subscribe via his RSS feed.

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