Published: Fri, October 26, 2018
Electronics | By Shannon Stone

Apple CEO Tim Cook's unsettling warning

Apple CEO Tim Cook's unsettling warning

During a keynote speech Wednesday at the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Brussels, Apple CEO Tim Cook called for proper data protection rights in the United States and reminded everyone how sweeping many internet companies' data collection practices are.

He also used the remarks to warn of a disregard for privacy becoming part of another technological phenomenon - artificial intelligence.

Referring to the misuse of "deeply personal" data, he said it was being "weaponised against us with military efficiency".

"Today that trade has exploded into a data industrial complex".

"If green is your favorite color, you may find yourself reading a lot of articles - or watching a lot of videos - about the insidious threat from people who like orange", Cook said. "Your profile is then run through algorithms that can serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into hardened convictions".

"We shouldn't sugarcoat the consequences". Cook's appearance "is going to have good currency", with officials, he added.

In a speech to a privacy conference in Brussels, Belgium, the Apple CEO launched a stinging attack on firms like Facebook for weaponizing data for profit.

I see privacy as one of the top few issues of the century and it's to that level and because of the number of nefarious things that can happen, I advocate to put the user in control.

While the US 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.

Cook voiced support for a similar U.S. law to tackle the internet giants' "surveillance" of internet users via the control of massive amounts of personal data.

Zuckerberg, speaking via video message, said Facebook users were aware of the trade-off between a free service and advertisements.

Meanwhile, regulators and lawmakers in Europe and the USA have trained their eyes on Facebook and Google following revelations of potential user privacy violations. While he agrees with what Tim Cook has said as a part of his privacy speech, he highlights that what Apple does in China can not be ignored as well.

Facebook was investing heavily in both security and privacy even as this impacts on its profitability, Zuckerberg said.

In a series of tweets that followed his address, Cook expanded on his call to action, saying "privacy is a fundamental human right".

"Rogue actors and even governments have taken advantage of user trust to deepen divisions, incite violence, and even undermine our shared sense of what is true and what is false", he said.

He said the company fully supports a comprehensive federal privacy law for the United States. At the same time, tech giants are under greater scrutiny by lawmakers and consumer advocates after Facebook's Cambridge Analytica data breach, when millions of users had their data unknowingly collected by a political consulting firm. It was revealed that a collection of Russian hackers gained access to Facebook's platforms in an attempt to interfere in the USA presidential election.

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