Tim Cook data privacy speech: Apple CEO calls for comprehensive data laws in America

Tim Cook data privacy speech: Apple CEO calls for comprehensive data laws in America

October 24, 2018 0 By Nazmul Khan

Apple CEO Tim Cook has called for new digital privacy laws in the United States, warning that the collection of huge amounts of personal data by companies is harming society.

Speaking at a privacy conference in Brussels, Cook gave an impassioned and forceful speech. He reiterated familiar talking points, like Apple’s commitment to privacy (and, by implication, its rivals lack of commitment) while spelling out concerns regarding data collection, surveillance, and manipulation that have dogged tech companies recently.

Cook said that modern technology has seen the creation of a “data-industrial complex” that leads to user information being “weaponized against us with military efficiency.” He said that this mechanism doesn’t just affect individuals, but whole societies.

“Platforms and algorithms that promised to improve our lives can actually magnify our worst human tendencies,” said Cook. “Rogue actors and even governments have taken advantage of user trust to deepen divisions, incite violence, and even undermine our shared sense of what is true and what is false. This crisis is real. It is not imagined, or exaggerated or crazy.”

Cook has long advocated for strong standards for data protection, but is now calling for federal regulation too. Alastair MacTaggart, a US privacy campaigner who spearheaded a landmark data privacy law in California said this was a “180-degree turn” for tech companies. “A year ago, they were pushing for self-regulation. But now, they want federal rules, but ones that are as weak as possible,” MacTaggart told Politico.

In his speech in Brussels, which was attended by policy experts and European Union lawmakers, Cook praised the EU’s “successful implementation” of its new data privacy law, GDPR. And said “it is time for the rest of the world […] to follow your lead.”

“We at Apple are in full support of a comprehensive federal privacy law in the United States,” said Cook. He then went on to four key rights that should be enshrined in legislation: the right to have personal data minimized; the right for users to know what data is collected on them; the right to access that data; the right for that data to be kept securely.

He added that while many in the US see regulation as a barrier to innovation, “this notion isn’t just wrong, it’s destructive. Technology’s potential is and always must be rooted in the faith people have in it.”

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