Apple CEO Tim Cook warns about 'weaponisation' of customer data

Apple CEO Tim Cook warns about 'weaponisation' of customer data

Apple CEO Tim Cook warns about 'weaponisation' of customer data

Apple has erred on the side of defending personal data by creating their hardware and software in such a way that they can not be accessed by third parties such as law-enforcement agencies even during legitimate investigations.

Speaking at an worldwide conference on data privacy, he warned that modern technology has led to the creation of a "data-industrial complex" in which private and everyday information is "weaponised against us with military efficiency".

"We shouldn't sugarcoat the consequences", he said. Next, he said that companies should inform user what data was being collected from them. "Our hopes and dreams". These bits of data, which are harmless individually, are assembled with care, synthesized, traded and sold.

Such legislation should include components such as "the right to have personal data minimized" through de-identification of customer data; "the right to knowledge" about what is being done with personal data; "the right to access" of personal data for customers; and lastly, "the right to security", Cook said. Users should always know what data is being collected and what it is being collected for.

Cook warned in a keynote speech that personal data was being "weaponized" against the public and endorsed tough privacy laws for both Europe and the US. "Taken to its extreme, this process creates an enduring digital profile and lets companies know you better than you know yourself". Your profile is a bunch of algorithms that serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into harm.

"With the spotlight shining as directly as it is, Apple have the opportunity to show that they are the leading player and they are taking up the mantle", said Ben Robson, a lawyer at Oury Clark specializing in data privacy. "This crisis is real".

Speaking in Brussels, Cook lauded the introduction of this law, and indirectly urged U.S. companies not to fear future government steps for stricter regulation of privacy.

Referring to the digital information trade as a "data-industrial complex", Cook argued that those practices-when abused-represent none other than outright "surveillance". Every day, we work to infuse the devices we make with the humanity that makes us. Most people won't have to worry about the Federal Bureau of Investigation trying to open up their phone, but Cook's description of our data being weaponized against us is true for many internet users, even ones who were never on services like Facebook to begin with.

Mr Cook also praised the EU's new data protection regulation, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Cook recalled how, in the early days of Apple, the company came under "enormous pressure" to "bend our values" on privacy issues. At the current time, state-by-state laws are patchy, and could be superseded by a uniform federal law.

Unlike internet giants Facebook and Google, Apple's business model does not rely on the collection and commercial use of its users' personal data.

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