Apple chief executive Tim Cook has demanded a tough new US data protection law, in an unusual speech in Europe.
Referring to the misuse of “deeply personal” data, he said it was being “weaponised against us with military efficiency”.
“We shouldn’t sugar-coat the consequences,” he added. “This is surveillance.”
The strongly-worded speech presented a striking defence of user privacy rights from a tech firm’s chief executive.
Mr Cook also praised the EU’s new data protection regulation, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The new law came into force in May.
Mr Cook’s speech was made in Brussels, at the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners.
The Apple boss described in some detail what he called the “data industrial complex”, noting that billions of dollars were traded on the basis of people’s “likes and dislikes”, “wishes and fears” or “hopes and dreams” – the kind of data points tracked by tech firms and advertisers.
He warned that the situation “should make us very uncomfortable, it should unsettle us”.
And the trade in personal data served only to enrich the companies that collect it, he added.
Mr Cook went on to commend the EU’s GDPR, which places stricter rules on how personal data is handled by businesses and organisations.
– Jill Stark
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