Tim Cook Calls for US Privacy Law to Protect Citizens From Growing 'Data Industrial Complex'

Apple CEO Tim Cook has called for a tough new U.S. data protection law to protect user privacy rights in the face of a growing "data industrial complex," in a passionately delivered speech in Europe.

Cook argued for the law during a keynote speech given today at the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC), which is being held in Brussels. The following quotes were published by TechCrunch.

Image via Getty
"Our own information — from the everyday to the deeply personal — is being weaponized against us with military efficiency," warned Cook. "These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded and sold.

"Taken to the extreme this process creates an enduring digital profile and lets companies know you better than you may know yourself. Your profile is a bunch of algorithms that serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into harm."

"We shouldn't sugarcoat the consequences. This is surveillance," he added.
Cook went on to commend the recently enacted European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which places stricter rules on how personal data is handled by businesses and organizations, and argued for a similar law in the U.S. – a call received with applause from the conference audience.
"This year you've shown the world that good policy and political will can come together to protect the rights of everyone," he said. "It is time for the rest of the world, including my home country, to follow your lead. We in Apple are in full support of a comprehensive federal privacy law in the United States."
Cook said a U.S. privacy law should prioritize data minimization, or "the right to have personal data minimized", as well as transparency with regard to what is being collected, the right to access that data, and the right to security, which is "foundational to trust."

In his speech, Cook also drew on Apple's privacy-first approach to artificial intelligence in contrast to other tech giants, and said he felt the technology held great promise to benefit humanity, but warned that "advancing AI by collecting huge personal profiles is laziness, not efficiency."
"For artificial intelligence to be truly smart it must respect human values — including privacy. If we get this wrong, the dangers are profound. We can achieve both great artificial intelligence and great privacy standards. It is not only a possibility — it is a responsibility.”
In closing, the Apple CEO criticized tech companies who "endorse reform in public and then resist and undermine it behind closed doors." He added: "It's time to face facts. We will never achieve technology's true potential without the full faith and confidence of the people who use it."

Apple's commitment to privacy protection has become one of the company's guiding principles in recent years, as over against the increasingly publicized data mining practices of tech firms like Facebook and Google, whose CEOs are scheduled to appear at the conference later this week.

Earlier this year, for example, Cook argued for stronger data privacy regulations following what he called the "dire" Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which data on 50 million Facebook users was amassed without their consent.

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Top Rated Comments

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15 months ago
Good, I agree. Our privacy needs to be protected. Obviously a great business move by Apple that protects the interests of consumers as well. I’m not sure how this will all play out for companies like Google and Facebook, but they have to be scrambling to rethink their business models for a sustainable future.
Rating: 26 Votes
15 months ago
Meanwhile accepts $3 Billion every year to have Google, the biggest data miner in the world, as default search engine on all iOS Devices.
Rating: 22 Votes
15 months ago
Cook puts on a good publicity stunt when it comes to privacy. Looks the other way and coughs when it comes to China.

No threat to profits and good image - a winner.
Rating: 14 Votes
15 months ago

And the most downloaded apps on iOS devices come from Google and Facebook.

I think user choice should still be considered.
Rating: 11 Votes
15 months ago
I agree with Cook; however it would be nice for him to put his money where his mouth is when it comes to privacy and treatment in China.
Rating: 8 Votes
15 months ago

Meanwhile accepts #3 Billion every year to have Google, the biggest data miner in the world, as default search engine on all iOS Devices.

And the most downloaded apps on iOS devices come from Google and Facebook.
Rating: 7 Votes
15 months ago

I saw your original post also. Where in regards to China do you feel Apple is violating its users’ privacy?

That's a pretty disingenuous characterization of what [USER=893381]@magicschoolbus[/USER] stated. I'm pretty sure you know exactly what he meant as well, because you asked your question in a very leading way. No one said Apple was violating it's users privacy. For you to imply it is pretty bad form imo. Cook loves to tout privacy as a fundamental right (I agree with him), yet actively facilitates China's policies of governmental control over privacy rights of Chinese citizens.

I'm on record for being a fan of Cook as a CEO. I'm also on record for not being a fan of his moralizing that happens to have a hard ceiling of "does this affect revenue?" I genuinely think he means what he says. He believes in personal privacy. I also believe he's willing to compromise those beliefs when it comes to acquiescing to China.
Rating: 7 Votes
15 months ago

Well I was trying to understand what his point was. The article is about protecting users' privacy. I don't consider adhering to Chinese law a violation of users' privacy.

Please stop with the "violation of user privacy". You're the only one to make the claim. You're the only one arguing that point. When Apple removed VPN's from the App Store, they definitely facilitated China's suppression of user privacy.

I am assuming you would expect Apple to simply shut down operations in China?

Why would you assume that I would expect something so dumb and unrealistic? Wouldn't a smarter assumption be that I would expect Cook to be more cognizant of the juxtaposition of his words regarding privacy and his actions in China that don't jibe with those words?
Rating: 6 Votes
15 months ago
Ordinarily I’m against big government interference, but given that states such as California are already passing laws, a federal law is probably warranted to avoid a confusing regulatory framework here.
Rating: 5 Votes
15 months ago
I think Apple should begin building a new HQ in Europe. What cook is dreaming about won’t manifest in the US under trump.
Rating: 5 Votes

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