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Apple CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday called for the U.S. Government to implement a strong consumer data protection law at a speech in Europe.
Cook passionately argued in favor of a law that would protect user data privacy rights in the face of a “data industrial complex” during a keynote address at the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Brussels today, TechCrunch reported.
“Our own information — from the every day to the deeply personal — is being weaponized against us with military efficiency,” Cook said.
While each individual scrap of data may be harmless on its own, the Apple chief executive said that they are being “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,” Cook said.
“We shouldn’t sugarcoat the consequences,” Cook added. “This is surveillance.”
Cook then commended the European Union for its enactment of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which places stringent rules on how a user’s personal data can and should be used. He said that the EU has “shown the world that good policy and political will can come together to protect the rights of everyone.”
The Apple CEO argued for the U.S. to implement a similar law — an announcement that was received with a chorus of applause from the audience.
“It is time for the rest of the world, including my home country, to follow your lead,” Cook said. “We in Apple are in full support of a comprehensive federal privacy law in the United States.”
Cook also expanded on how Apple treats data differently than other tech firms, especially when it comes to increasingly advanced artificial intelligence systems.
The Apple executive concluded by calling out tech firms that “endorse reform in public and then resist and undermine it behind closed doors.”
“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,” Cook said in closing.
Apple has always been a vanguard in protecting its users’ data — something that can’t always be said of other technology firms. In the face of data privacy and breach scandals, the company has always walked the walk. Famously, that culminated with a dustup with the FBI over its refusal to create an iPhone backdoor.
This isn’t the first time that Cook has spoken about privacy reform in the U.S. In the wake of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytic earlier this year, Cook made a similar argument for stronger data protection and privacy regulations.
It’s long been argued that Apple’s best product is its strict commitment to protecting its users’ privacy. That shows no signs of changing in the future.