Sunday, 16 December, 2018


Apple CEO Tim Cook blasts 'weaponisation' of personal data

Tim Cook CEO of Apple Inc talks at the Debating Ethics Apple chief Tim Cook gives a speech to privacy commissioners in Brussels Credit AFP
Melba Vasquez | 26 October, 2018, 12:29

Mr Cook's speech was made in Brussels, at the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners. He also renewed the technology giant's commitment to protecting personal data. Those rights, according to the CEO, are: the right to have personal data minimized; the right to know what data is being collected; the right to access and edit personal data before it is being shared; and the right to enjoy security.

"Today [the gossip trade criticized by Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis in 1890] has exploded into a data industrial complex", said Cook. Companies that break the law risk harsh financial penalties. In many more nations regulators are asking tough questions - and crafting effective reform.

Stamos said on Wednesday that Apple used "hardware-rooted DRM" to stop Chinese users installing messaging apps that would allow them to avoid "pervasive censorship and surveillance". Cook said the European Union law is an example of how officials in many areas are "asking tough questions" about data privacy issues.

Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai, CEOs of Facebook and Google will also appear at the conference later this week but in pre-recorded video messages rather than in person. That's rattled the big tech companies, which are pushing for a federal law that would treat them more leniently. But Cook warned these recommendation engines have unintended consequences.

Cook didn't name the offenders in his speech, but he blasted the tech industry's reliance on collecting people's personal data to run their products.

"Our own information - from the everyday to the deeply personal - is being weaponized against us with military efficiency".

Apple, which designs many of its products so that it can not see users' data, has largely avoided the data privacy scandals that have hounded its rivals Google and Facebook this year.

"There's a lot of uncertainty about how [China's privacy regime] is implemented", said Sacks. Cook's appearance "is going to have good currency", with officials, he added.

In his remarks to the annual meeting of global data privacy chiefs, this year held in Brussels, the Belgian capital and political nucleus of the European Union, Zuckerberg said the social network takes seriously its "basic ethical responsibility" to safeguard personal information.

The company has long advocated that privacy is a human right and refused to weaken its iPhones' security measures even at the behest of the federal government.

Apple recently updated its website to include an easier way for Australian customers to make changes to the data the company collects about them, suspend their Apple account or even permanently delete their data.

While the USA doesn't have a federal privacy law-except for data related to personal health records-each state has the power to enact its own legislation. European users already had access to this feature after the continent's General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, took effect in May.

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