Apple CEO Tim Cook on Data Privacy

Speaking at the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC), Apple CEO Tim Cook forcefully called for expanded global privacy protections akin to GDPR:

Our own information — from the everyday to the deeply personal — is being weaponized against us with military efficiency. 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…

We should celebrate the transformative work of the European institutions tasked with the successful implementation of the GDPR. We also celebrate the new steps taken, not only here in Europe but around the world — in Singapore, Japan, Brazil, New Zealand. In many more nations regulators are asking tough questions — and crafting effective reform.

It is time for the rest of the world, including my home country, to follow your lead.

We see vividly, painfully how technology can harm, rather than help. [Some platforms] magnify our worst human tendencies… deepen divisions, incite violence and even undermine our shared sense or what is true or false.

This crisis is real. Those of us who believe in technology’s potential for good must not shrink from this moment…

They may say to you our companies can never achieve technology’s true potential if there were strengthened privacy regulations. But this notion isn’t just wrong it is destructive — technology’s potential is and always must be rooted in the faith people have in it. In the optimism and the creativity that stirs the hearts of individuals. In its promise and capacity to make the world a better place.

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.

He also warned about the dangers of AI which fails to protect privacy:

Artificial intelligence is one area I think a lot about. At its core this technology promises to learn from people individually to benefit us all. But 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…

Yesterday, Cook tweeted that privacy is a human right

Tim Cook on GDPR

based upon four principals:

  • Data Minimization – Personal data collection should be minimized or de-identified.
  • Transparency – Individuals have the right to know what is being collected and for what purpose.
  • Right to Access – “data belongs to users” with personal data available to individuals for copying, correcting, and deleting.
  • Right to security – “security is foundational to trust and all other privacy rights”

Cook isn’t the first CEO to call for a global GDPR. Microsoft has built GDPR into its products and CEO Satya Nadella has expressed similar thoughts. Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff discussed data privacy and cybersecurity on a May earnings call and SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin has also voiced concerns.

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