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Apple CEO Tim Cook comes out swinging against companies collecting your private data

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Apple CEO Tim Cook warns of the rising “data industrial complex.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook warns of the rising “data industrial complex.”

Image: ARIS OIKONOMOU/AFP/Getty Images

Speaking at the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners, Apple CEO of tech’s “data industrial complex.” 

“Our own information, from the everyday to the deeply personal, is being weaponized against us with military efficiency,” said Cook. “These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, 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.”

Cook provided an example of how this data is being used, one we especially see being weaponized in political news media. “If green is your favorite color, you may find yourself reading a lot of articles — or watching a lot of videos — about the insidious threat from people who like orange.”

Cook didn’t mince words. “We shouldn’t sugarcoat the consequences. This is surveillance.” 

Without naming names, Cook knocked companies that puts “profits over privacy.” “These stockpiles of personal data serve only to enrich the companies that collect them.”

Whether you’re an Apple fan or not, one area where the company should be lauded is its commitment — at the very least, comparatively to other tech companies like Facebook and Google — to put users’ privacy first. Apple’s outlines just how little access anyone but you has over the data on your Apple products.

In an age rife with hackers, bad actors, and even the very companies trusted with hoarding all this data misusing our private information, the Apple CEO came out and threw his support behind a “comprehensive federal privacy law in the United States.”

Cook outlined the “four essential rights” he’d like to see in such a law: the right to have personal data minimized, the right to public knowledge over what user data is being collected for and why, the right for users to access their data, and the right to security.

In calling for this federal law, Apple’s CEO really sounded the alarm over just how bad the issues surrounding data and privacy have become. “At the same time, we see vividly — painfully — how technology can harm rather than help,” said Cook. “This crisis is real. It is not imagined, or exaggerated, or crazy. And those of us who believe in technology’s potential for good must not shrink from this moment,” he added.

“We must never stop asking ourselves, what kind of world do we want to live in?”

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