Tim Cook accepts Newseum 2017 Free Expression Award, says companies should have values

Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage on Tuesday at the Newseum in Washington D.C., to accept the institute’s 2017 Free Expression Award, for which the tech mogul was honored in the Free Speech category.

Apple CEO Tim Cook (right) accepts Newseum Free Expression Award from Washington Post CEO Fred Ryan.

Prior to the award presentation by Washington Post CEO and publisher Fred Ryan, the Newseum played a video celebrating Cook and Apple’s accomplishments, including brief recounting of Cook’s commencement speech at George Washington University, clips from an interview with ABC News regarding the debacle over the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone 5c, and bits and pieces from assorted Apple store openings.

“I’m very grateful for the award and accept it tonight on behalf of everyone at Apple,” Cook said after making a quip about being the only person in the room with an iPad.

In a short acceptance speech, Cook addressed the difficulty of adapting the tenets of the First Amendment to modern technology. He noted that the Founding Fathers didn’t have app developers, or other modern artists, in mind when they established the basis of American ideology.

“We know that these freedoms require protection,” Cook said of First Amendment rights. “Not just the forms of speech that entertain us, but the ones that challenge us. The ones that unnerve and even displease us. They’re the ones that need protection the most. It’s no accident that these freedoms are enshrined and protected in the First Amendment. They are the foundation to so many of our rights.”

Cook gathered applause in proportion to the other selectees of the night following the presentation, if not a bit louder and longer, from a crowd mostly consisting of luminaries in government, civil rights, and journalism.

Relating those undeniable rights to tech, Cooks echoed recent statements regarding what place the tech industry should have — if any — in the political process.

“This is a responsibility that Apple takes very seriously,” Cook said. “First we defend, we work to defend these freedoms by enabling people around the world to speak up. And second, we do it by speaking up ourselves. Because companies can, and should have values.

“At Apple we are not just enabling others to speak up, we are doing so ourselves.”

People who win the award “have taken personal or professional risks in sharing critical information with the public, have been censored or punished by authorities or other groups for their work, or have pushed boundaries in artistic and media expression,” the Newseum said in its announcement in February about the award.

Some other notable winners this year included U.S. Representative John Lewis, who was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the organization, and Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, who is getting an Arts and Entertainment Award shared with Hatch Beauty chairman Christie Hefner.

The Newseum, primarily funded and controlled by the Freedom Forum, is a First Amendment advocacy museum, tracing the evolution of journalism, print, and electronic communication from earliest days of the United States to the technologies of the present and the future. The museum attracts over 800,000 visitors per year.

During Cook’s speech — the longest of the night — nearly the entire body of invitees and attendees seated close to the podium snapped photos on their iPhones.

An interesting read via Apple Insider