Tim Cook Calls For US Federal Privacy Law To Tackle ‘Weaponized’ Personal Data
Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, called on Wednesday for a federal privacy law in the US to protect against voracious internet companies hoarding so much digital data that the businesses know citizens “better than they know themselves” – and then often sell the information on.
Cook warned in a keynote speech that personal data was being “weaponized” against the public and endorsed tough privacy laws for both Europe and the US.
The iPhone and Mac computer giant has stood out in its explicit declarations that Apple prefers to protect its customers’ personal data.
Speaking at an international conference in Brussels on data privacy,Cook applauded European Union authorities for bringing in a strict new data privacy law in May, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
This gives consumers more control over their personal information and imposes greater restrictions and transparency rules on all companies, with the threat of fines, but particularly affects the chains of companies that exploit digitally acquired data, including tech leaders such as Google and Facebook and middlemen marketers and data brokers.
The conference featured brief video comments from the Facebook chairman, Mark Zuckerberg, and Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, asserting various steps they are taking to give users greater protection, in moves observers saw as a jostling by tech giants to curry favor in Europe as regulators intensify their scrutiny.
Cook warned that the trade in personal information “has exploded into a data industrial complex”.
Data protection has become a major political issue worldwide and European regulators have led the charge in setting new rules for the big internet companies.
The GDPR requires companies to change the way they do business in the region, and a number of headline-grabbing data breaches have raised public awareness of the issue.
Cook warned that technology’s promise to drive breakthroughs that benefit humanity is at risk of being overshadowed by the harm it can cause by deepening division and spreading false information.
In the first big test of the new rules, Ireland’s data protection commission, which is a lead authority for Europe as many big tech firms are based in the country, is investigating Facebook’s data breach, which let hackers access 3m EU-based accounts.
Google, meanwhile, shut down its Plus social network this month after revealing it had a flaw that could have exposed personal information of up to half a million people.
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