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Apple's Tim Cook Calls for Stronger US Privacy Laws

(Image credit: Laura Hutton / Shutterstock.com)

Time has published an article written by Apple CEO Tim Cook arguing in favor of stronger U.S. privacy laws.

The article was published under the headline “You Deserve Privacy Online. Here's How You Could Actually Get It.” Much of the article rehashes what Cook has said before, which can be summarized by what he believes are the four basic privacy rights:

“First, the right to have personal data minimized. Companies should challenge themselves to strip identifying information from customer data or avoid collecting it in the first place. Second, the right to knowledge—to know what data is being collected and why. Third, the right to access. Companies should make it easy for you to access, correct and delete your personal data. And fourth, the right to data security, without which trust is impossible.”

A new proposal regarding the regulation of data brokers is a bit more novel. These companies violate all of those principles by gathering as much information as possible, in secret, with no guarantee of its security. And most people can’t do a single thing about it.

This setup isn't just invasive; it's dangerous. Just consider the Equifax hack, or this Motherboard report about how easy data brokers make it to buy personal information, or any of the other examples of just how much data is traded without true oversight.

Here’s what Cook wants to do about that:

“We believe the Federal Trade Commission should establish a data-broker clearinghouse, requiring all data brokers to register, enabling consumers to track the transactions that have bundled and sold their data from place to place, and giving users the power to delete their data on demand, freely, easily and online, once and for all.”

Those protections would be in addition to stronger federal laws regarding consumer privacy, too, and not just for data brokers. They get their data from somewhere, and that list of sources includes tech companies. Which is where Apple’s self interest comes in.

Many tech companies make their money by selling information about their users. That's why so many services are free—the monetization occurs behind the scenes with data sharing deals or advertising platforms. See: Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Apple makes its money by selling devices. That affords it the opportunity to limit data collection and, naturally, use privacy as a marketing tool. It sees demand for non-invasive tech and it’s more than happy to meet that demand with its products.

Stricter privacy laws wouldn't be a win for Apple because of Cook’s personal beliefs. They’d be a win for Apple because so much of its competition relies on for-profit surveillance to survive. So you have to consider that when executives back policy, even if it may benefit many people.

  • brian2799
    Too bad he isn't as supportive of providers not suppressing third-party content and allowing freedom of speech.
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    21687631 said:
    Too bad he isn't as supportive of providers not suppressing third-party content and allowing freedom of speech.
    Yeah he and most of the tech CEOs aren't onboard with the concept of freedom of speech. So they use the tools at their disposal to shut people down, for example by refusing to host content or stripping all methods of funding. Realistically, he doesn't actually care about privacy either, not at a personal level. The article actually nailed it:

    Stricter privacy laws wouldn't be a win for Apple because of Cook’s personal beliefs. They’d be a win for Apple because so much of its competition relies on for-profit surveillance to survive.
    Reply
  • rabbit4me1
    You dodged the tariff. Your not getting your way now. Quit being a fruit and grow some grapes!!!
    Reply
  • s1mon7
    The privacy in the US is not respected. I moved here from Europe (where the privacy laws are much more advanced) and I'm really uncomfortable. The pinnacle of violation are the credit bureaus, which really are just private companies gathering all private data needed to ruin your life, obtain your data from most companies you deal with as if it was completely normal, make dozens of transactions including your name, address, social security number and credit purchase/payment history every single year that you aren't aware of, and charge you to see your data. I have no idea who thought this is perfectly fine. The EU is still far from perfect, but that would be categorized as organized crime over there.

    Nobody should be able to have your data without your permission. Everyone should erase your data upon your request. It really sounds very simple to me. It seems like the only reason why it's not like that everywhere is because of data violators lobbying the governments to act against their citizens.
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    21689176 said:
    The privacy in the US is not respected. I moved here from Europe (where the privacy laws are much more advanced) and I'm really uncomfortable. The pinnacle of violation are the credit bureaus, which really are just private companies gathering all private data needed to ruin your life, obtain your data from most companies you deal with as if it was completely normal, make dozens of transactions including your name, address, social security number and credit purchase/payment history every single year that you aren't aware of, and charge you to see your data. I have no idea who thought this is perfectly fine. The EU is still far from perfect, but that would be categorized as organized crime over there.

    Nobody should be able to have your data without your permission. Everyone should erase your data upon your request. It really sounds very simple to me. It seems like the only reason why it's not like that everywhere is because of data violators lobbying the governments to act against their citizens.
    The biggest offenders include firms like Google and various social media firms, and certain government agencies. Yet you bring up the credit bureaus? You're OK with the various EU states monitoring everything, (and arresting you if you say heretical things)... but the credit bureaus are making you "really uncomfortable"?

    I'll put a call in with the boys and have them unchain you. You'll be free to return within 24 hours.
    Reply
  • spentshells
    He wants to be the biggest private information store is all.
    Reply
  • shrapnel_indie
    I'm sure any business would be against practices that give the competition a leg up on them... not to mention if it gives them a PR image that will give them the leg up. (Notice I said PR image. This is because we know that Apple is just as guilty for collecting/trafficking your personal info as everyone else.)
    Reply
  • s1mon7
    21689270 said:
    21689176 said:
    The privacy in the US is not respected. I moved here from Europe (where the privacy laws are much more advanced) and I'm really uncomfortable. The pinnacle of violation are the credit bureaus, which really are just private companies gathering all private data needed to ruin your life, obtain your data from most companies you deal with as if it was completely normal, make dozens of transactions including your name, address, social security number and credit purchase/payment history every single year that you aren't aware of, and charge you to see your data. I have no idea who thought this is perfectly fine. The EU is still far from perfect, but that would be categorized as organized crime over there.

    Nobody should be able to have your data without your permission. Everyone should erase your data upon your request. It really sounds very simple to me. It seems like the only reason why it's not like that everywhere is because of data violators lobbying the governments to act against their citizens.
    The biggest offenders include firms like Google and various social media firms, and certain government agencies. Yet you bring up the credit bureaus? You're OK with the various EU states monitoring everything, (and arresting you if you say heretical things)... but the credit bureaus are making you "really uncomfortable"?

    I'll put a call in with the boys and have them unchain you. You'll be free to return within 24 hours.

    Firstly, there is a large difference between the data that Google or Facebook handle and the data that the credit bureaus handle. The latter deal with sensitive information, including your name, address, identification numbers, debt information, card numbers and everything else needed to steal your identity that's also capable of ruining your life. They are also constantly obtaining and transferring your data from/to companies that you are dealing with and you can't do anything about it.

    The worst that Google has on you are things you willingly provide them with. Pictures, messages, location history? While surely things aren't great there, it's harmless compared to the credit bureaus. I hope most people never get hurt just to realize where the largest data security and privacy threats lie, but such organizations should never be allowed to exist.
    Saying they're a smaller threat than Google or Facebook is ignoring a gorilla in the room.

    As for you comments regarding the EU or the second paragraph of your post, I won't even bother answering.
    Reply