Apple CEO Tim Cook supports stricter data privacy laws, warns of ‘data industrial complex’


Apple CEO Tim Cook speaking to an international privacy conference Wednesday said he supported the European Union’s data privacy law, enacted in May, and called for the U.S. to pass similar protections.

The need for consumer protections is important because technological advances have led to the development of “a data industrial complex,” Cook said. “Our own information, from the everyday to the deeply personal, is being weaponized against us with military efficiency.”

Cook spoke Wednesday in Brussels, Belgium, at the annual International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners. Among the major topics: potential benefits and repercussions of the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, enacted in May by the EU, which is meant to give consumers more control over their personal information that’s collected by tech companies.

The U.S. should follow the EU’s lead because, Cook said, “These scraps of data…each one harmless enough on its own…are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded, and sold.”

Cook and Apple have sought to differentiate the iPhone maker’s approach from that of other tech giants such as Google and Facebook, which rely on revenue from ads based on user data. The company last week unveiled a new privacy portal giving Apple users a way to see what data the company collects on them and the ability to delete if, if they wish. Users in Europe had access to those features upon GDPR’s enaction.

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