Apple's chief executive also used his speech to broadly criticize fellow tech companies and their role in the current political climate. That today's data-collection practices are fueling platforms that are "magnifying our worst tendencies", Cook said in apparent allusion to Facebook and Google's YouTube.
In what appeared to be a reference to companies like Google and Facebook, which trade on personal information, he slammed what he described as the "data industrial complex", accusing it of surveillance. Cook continued to state: "Taken to the extreme this process creates an enduring digital profile and lets companies know you better than you may know yourself". His keynote speech hammered (not by name) the numerous tech companies whose business models thrive by vacuuming up the personal information of their user base and using it in as many ways as possible to not only generate quarterly profits but also drive future growth at the expense of "human values". The privacy tools were extended last week to Apple ID users in Australia, New Zealand, the USA, and Canada, offering a simpler and faster way to requests through Apple's legal pages.
In Brussels, Cook amplified that strategy and his own personal concerns, exemplified in a tweet he sent afterward: "It all boils down to a fundamental question: What kind of world do we want to live in?" "This is the only way to empower users to decide what collection is legitimate and what isn't. It is time for rest of the world, including my home country, to follow your lead", Cook said.
"We see vividly, painfully, how technology can harm rather than help", he continued, "This crisis is real". The iPhone and Mac computer giant has stood out in its explicit declarations that Apple prefers to protect its customers' personal data.
Cook's message will make for uncomfortable reading for other tech leaders such as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, both of whom are to share their thoughts via video messages at the same conference. "At its core, this technology promises to learn from people individually to benefit us all", he said. Facebook in September reported a cyber-attack that affected 30 million people, with hackers stealing intimate user information, including search results, recent locations and hometowns, in many cases.
Mr Cook went on to commend the EU's GDPR, which places stricter rules on how personal data is handled by businesses and organisations.
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