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Apple CEO Tim Cook attacks tech firms that hoard data



Tim Cook
CEO Tim Cook at the European Union’s privacy conference in


  • Apple CEO Tim Cook launched a scathing
    attack on tech companies that hoard “industrial” amounts of
    personal data.
  • Speaking at a privacy conference in Brussels, he said
    that the stockpiling of personal data amounts to surveillance,
    and should make us “very uncomfortable.”
  • Cook did not mention Facebook and Google by name, but
    has made thinly veiled remarks about their approach to privacy
    in the past.
  • He said that Apple would support the introduction
    of US federal privacy laws.

Apple’s CEO has launched his most stinging attack yet on tech
firms that hoard data.

In a speech at a privacy conference at the European Parliament in
Brussels, Belgium, Tim Cook decried the “data industrial complex”
that has been created to maximise profits.

“Our own information, from the every day to the deeply personal
is being weaponized against us with military efficiency,” Cook
said at the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and
Privacy Commissioners on Wednesday.

The Apple CEO continued: “Every day billions of dollars change
hands and countless decisions are made on the basis of our likes
and dislikes, our friends and families, our relationships and
conversations, our wishes and fears, our hopes and dreams.

“These threads of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are
carefully assembled, synthesised, traded, and sold. Taken to its
extreme this process creates an enduring digital profile, and
lets companies know you better than you may know yourself.

“We shouldn’t sugarcoat the consequences. This is surveillance.
And these stockpiles of personal data serve only to enrich the
companies that collect them. This should make us very
uncomfortable. It should unsettle us.”

Cook did not mention Facebook or Google by name, but they are an
obvious target given they have access to giant pools of personal
information that allow them to personalise advertising.

And Cook has criticised Facebook in the past over its approach to
privacy, saying that Mark Zuckerberg’s company is
“beyond” self-regulation
. Soon after, Facebook COO Sheryl
Sandberg said the firm strongly disagrees with
Cook’s characterization of its product.

Cook calls for US federal privacy laws

Cook went on to laud Europe’s recently implemented GDPR (General
Data Protection Regulation) privacy laws — adding that it’s time
for the US to introduce similar regulations.

“It is time for the rest of the world, including my home country,
to follow suit,” he said. “We at Apple are in full support of a
comprehensive federal privacy law in the United States,” he added
to a round of applause.

Cook admitted that his view isn’t necessarily popular in Silicon

“There are many people who would prefer I hadn’t said all that.
Some oppose any formal privacy legislation, others will endorse
reform in public and then resist and undermine it behind closed
doors,” he explained.

“They may say to you, ‘our companies can never achieve
technology’s true potential if they’re constrained with privacy
regulation.’ But this notion isn’t just wrong, it is

You can watch an excerpt from Cook’s speech

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