Apple CEO Urges U.S. Legislators to Create GDPR-like Data Protection Regulations

The CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, spoke at the 40th edition of the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC) in Brussels and said the United States should have a data protection law that is as strict as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that came into effect in May 2018.

Cook said in his keynote speech that he has tried distancing Apple from Silicon Valley companies because they encouraged trade in digital data, and that the problem has a “data industrial complex.” Taking this process to the extreme produces a long-lasting digital profile and allows companies to know you far better than you know yourself. A profile is a group of algorithms that offer progressively extreme content. Harmless preferences are turned into real harm and the actions are tantamount to digital surveillance.

The rest of the world should follow the EU in introducing GDPR-style laws. Because of GDPR, non-compliant companies which do not secure client data or use data for purposes that have not been explained to consumers can be penalized up to €20m or 4% of yearly global revenue, whichever amount is greater.

Cook stated on Twitter that he wanted the U.S. legislation to address four key areas:

    1. Companies ought to de-identify client information or they should not collect data to begin with.
    2. Users must be informed about the information that is being collected and the reason for collecting it. This empowers users to know when data collection is legitimate and when it isn’t.
    3. Companies must understand that users own their data and they should simplify the process for people to obtain a copy of their personal information, correct it, and arrange for it to be deleted, if required.
    4. Data security is everyone’s right.

Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to collect personal profiles is not efficiency, it is laziness. Companies should respect privacy and human values and if they are ignored, the potential problems that can result are profound.

While technology helps companies learn about their customers, companies have a responsibility to ensure they maintain great privacy standards. It is possible to develop and use artificial intelligence without violating privacy.

Mr. Cook’s keynote speech comes after several public GDPR investigations, including Facebook following its breach of 50 million users’ information and the Google+ breach, both of which highlighted the importance of data security.