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Apple CEO calls for EU-style data law in US

October 24, 2018

Tim Cook has warned that internet users' personal data is being "weaponized" by internet giants. His solution is a US data protection law that imitates many of the EU's stringent rules.

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Image: picture alliance/AP/V. Mayo

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook on Wednesday called on the United States to follow the European Union's example by passing a federal data protection law akin to the bloc's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

"We should celebrate the transformative work of the European institutions," Cook told a conference on data protection in Brussels. "It is time for the rest of the world, including my home country, to follow your lead," he said.

Read more: EU data protection: End of the digital Wild West

Weaponization of personal data

The GDPR entered into force in May. It introduced stringent rules on how businesses around the world collect and use the personal data of people located within the European Union. Companies that break the law risk harsh financial penalties.

Cook voiced support for a similar US law to tackle the internet giants' "surveillance" of internet users via the control of massive amounts of personal data. That information, he said, was "being weaponized" against internet users with "military efficiency."

"These stockpiles of personal data serve only to enrich the companies that collect them," he said.

Read more: Apple's fight against the FBI over phone privacy is hitting the streets

Hitting rivals where it hurts

Apple, unlike rivals Google and Facebook, focuses primarily on selling mobile phones and computers rather than personal data.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Google head Sundar Pichai sent televised remarks to the conference. Zuckerberg admitted that his company had "a lot more to do" to improve data protection following several data breaches in the previous year.

EU privacy law — new era in data protection

Cook said a US data protection law should restrict and in some cases ban companies' ability to collect certain types of personal data. It should also, similar to the GDPR, allow users to know and control the data companies collect.

The EU applauded Cook's comments. "I think that this confirms once more that Europe got it right with the GDPR," Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said.

amp/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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