Apple CEO Tim Cook to Back Strong Privacy Laws in EU, U.S.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook

Cook is expected to support tighter, European-style privacy rules in his speech at the European Data Protection Conference in Brussels on Wednesday.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is expected to call for strong laws to defend privacy and the use of data on both sides of the Atlantic, according to remarks prepared for a speech in Europe on Wednesday.

Cook will be addressing the European Data Protection Conference in Brussels, where he is expected to stress Apple's commitment to privacy and to praise the EU's tight data protection laws.

The speech comes amid increased scrutiny surrounding data protection and follows a series of massive data breaches, including Facebook's recent revelation that it compromised the personal data of some 29 million users. Just last year, the social media giant was hit by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which involved the British political consulting firm using the data from 87 million Facebook users to try to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election in favor of Donald Trump.  

The European Union has been more proactive in enacting data protection legislation than its counterparts in the U.S. This year the EU enforced its General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, which requires tech companies to implement data protection “by design and default.” EU consumers have to give explicit consent to tech companies wanting to use their personal data, and said consent can be withdrawn at any time.

Some U.S. lawmakers are now pushing for similar legislation stateside to shield consumers from data misuse by powerful tech platforms.

In his speech in Brussels, Cook will say Apple views privacy as a “fundamental human right. We will never achieve technology’s true potential without the full faith and confidence of the people who use it.” 

Cook has endorsed a comprehensive federal privacy law in the U.S. The iPhone maker has made privacy part of its brand and selling point, distinguishing it from the data-gathering business models of Facebook, Google and Amazon. Last week Apple rolled out an online tool that allows users in North America and Australia/New Zealand to download, change or delete all the data the company has collected on them. The tool was first introduced in Europe earlier this year to comply with the GDPR.

Cook is one of several executives from top U.S. tech companies who will speak at the two-day conference in Brussels this week. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai are expected to share their thoughts via video message.