Apple boss Tim Cook believes the European Union’s GDPR privacy laws should be mirrored around the world.
Speaking at a privacy conference in Brussels, Cook called on decision-makers and governments to look at the role of privacy in technology and ask themselves “what kind of world do we want to live in?”
He also lauded the EU for the implementation of its General Data Protection Regulation in May.
“We should celebrate the transformative work of the European institutions tasked with the successful implementation of the GDPR,” he said.
“It is time for the rest of the world—including my home country—to follow your lead.”
Apple has long positioned itself as a champion of privacy. From its refusal to grant the FBI access into an iPhone involved in a 2015 terror incident to the recent privacy-focused iOS 12 and MacOS Mojave updates, which make it even harder for third parties to get users personal information.
“We at Apple are in full support of a comprehensive federal privacy law in the United States,” continued Cook.
He spoke of the ‘four essential rights’ of data privacy: the right to have personal data minimised, the right to knowledge, the right to access and the right to security.
It appeared he was outlining the fundamentals of privacy reforms when he shared a quote from his late boss Steve Jobs.
“Privacy means people know what they’re signing up for, in plain language, and repeatedly,” Cook recalled Jobs saying.
And while he made it clear Apple supports GDPR-like controls, he suggested other technology corporates don’t feel the same way.
“Some oppose any form of privacy legislation. Others will endorse reform in public, and then resist and undermine it behind closed doors,” Cook said.
“They may say to you, ‘our companies will never achieve technology’s true potential if they are constrained with privacy regulation.’ But this notion isn’t just wrong, it is destructive.”
The relationship between the effectiveness of technology and privacy was a recurring theme throughout Cook’s address.
“We will never achieve technology’s true potential without the full faith and confidence of the people who use it,” he said.
The ‘crisis’ of fake news was also discussed, as he crticised the enablers.
“In the news, almost every day, we bear witness to the harmful, even deadly, effects of these narrowed world views,” he said.
“We shouldn’t sugarcoat the consequences. This is surveillance. And these stockpiles of personal data serve only to enrich the companies that collect them.”
“Artificial Intelligence is one area I think a lot about,” Cook said.
Apple has been criticised in the past for lagging behind when it comes to creating AI-based solutions.
But Cook gave reason for Apple’s measured approach to the technology, saying “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.
“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.”