In an impassioned speech at the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC) in Brussels, Apple CEO Tim Cook called for global protections of privacy and encouraged the United States to adopt the European Union’s style of privacy and security for citizens.
You can watch the 22 minutes speech below in its entirety
In the speech, Cook outlined that data and personal information can be “weaponized” and can be used by companies to know you better than you know yourself. Here is a quote from his speech from TechCrunch:
“Our own information — from the everyday to the deeply personal — is being weaponized against us with military efficiency,” warned Cook. “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,” he added.
Cook went on to add that Artificial Intelligence must respect human values, including privacy, if it is to be truly smart and efficient.
Where Tim Cook struck a chord with the attendees of ICDPPC was the call for the United States and other countries to adopt a GDPR-like approach to privacy. He also pointed out the steps taken in other countries that have taken strides to support individual privacy.
“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.”
The quote from his keynote addressed sent a wave of applause through the crowd according to multiple sources.
Apple has been vocal about privacy, going so far as to call it a basic human right on their recently updated Privacy site. This speech and the call for the US to adopt a GDPR-like law is the most vocal Apple and Tim Cook have been to date on the topic.