GDPR-like Data Protection Legislation Called for by Apple CEO Tim Cook

Speaking recently at a conference on data privacy in Brussels, Apple CEO Tim Cook lead the calls for the United States to develop data protection legislation as stringent as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which was introduced in May this year.

Cook was making the keynote speech at the 40th edition of the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC) when he criticized silicon valley companies, which he attempted to distance Apple from, for encouraging trade in digital data which has erupted into a “data industrial complex”.

He remarked: “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.”

Talking about the EU’s introduction of the GDPR legislation he remarked: “It is time for the rest of the world, including my home country, to follow your lead.” GDPR brought with it the introduction of stringent penalties of up to €20m or 4% of annual global revenue, whichever figure is higher, for companies that are not in compliance and do not protect their clients data adequately.

After his speech Cook described four priorities that he would that to see US legislation address on his Twitter account. They were:

  1. “Companies should challenge themselves to de-identify customer data or not collect that data in the first place.”
  2. “Users should always know what data is being collected from them and what it’s being collected for. This is the only way to empower users to decide what collection is legitimate and what isn’t. Anything less is a sham.”
  3. “Companies should recognize that data belongs to users and we should make it easy for people to get a copy of their personal data, as well as correct and delete it.”
  4. “Everyone has a right to the security of their data. Security is at the heart of all data privacy and privacy rights.”

Cook also focused on Artificial Intelligence and the consequence that it is inflicting on the security of private personal information. He remarked: “Advancing AI by collecting huge personal profiles is laziness, not efficiency. For artificial intelligence to be truly smart, it must respect human values, including privacy. If we get this wrong, the dangers are profound. At its core, this technology promises to learn from people individually to benefit us all. We can achieve both great artificial intelligence and great privacy standards. It’s not only a possibility, it is a responsibility. In the pursuit of artificial intelligence, we should not sacrifice the humanity, creativity, and ingenuity that define our human intelligence.”