Apple CEO Calls for Comprehensive U.S. Data Privacy Laws
During a keynote address at an international conference on data and privacy organized by the European Union, Apple CEO Tim Cook issued one of the company’s strongest rebukes yet against what he called a “data-industrial complex” that’s rapidly emerging in the tech sector. In doing so, Cook said the U.S. government would be wise to adopt laws similar to those enacted by some of the attendees to whom he was speaking back in May.
Of course, the E.U. enacted its much discussed General Data Protection Rules earlier this year in an attempt to put users’ data very much under their own control. The standards are viewed as being incredibly tough for businesses (and publishers, admittedly) to follow, but the impetus behind them is one that shows the European bloc was willing to go to great lengths to ensure their citizens have control over their data. Though individual states have their own privacy laws and the federal government has some policies that cover specific segments like healthcare information, there is no overarching legislation like GDPR.
And that, Cook said, is an issue.
“It is time for the rest of the world, including my home country to follow your lead,” he said. “We at Apple are in full support of a comprehensive federal law in the United States. … Today, [the tech] trade has exploded into a data-industrial complex. Our own information—from the everyday to the deeply personal—is being weaponized against us with military efficiency.”
Analysts covering the event noted that Apple, with its privacy-focused initiatives, is in a strong position to be able to work and comply with a U.S. version of GDPR, unlike other companies in the industry. While Apple has been making headlines being more transparent and giving users the ability to download and control their data, companies like Facebook and Google are grappling with massive data breaches.
In his address, Cook outlined four key rights that should be included in any U.S. attempt to implement data privacy protection laws: the right to have their personal data minimized, the right for users to know what data companies collect, the right to access that data, and the right for that data to be kept secure.
“Platforms and algorithms that promised to improve our lives can actually magnify our worst human tendencies,” Cook said. “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.”
Watch the entire address right here: