Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook calls for new federal privacy law while attacking the ‘shadow economy’ in an interview with TIME

4 min read

Last year we saw some major data breaches and top companies compromising user data. This year naturally the sentiments are strongly inclining towards protecting user’s data privacy. Just two days ago, U.S. Senator introduced a bill titled ‘American Data Dissemination (ADD) Act’ for creating federal standards of privacy protection for big companies including Google, Amazon, and Facebook. The U.S. Congress is yet to pass this bill. Yesterday, Tim Cook, CEO, Apple, asked the U.S. Congress to introduce a national privacy law for securing users’ personal data, while attacking the shadow economy which trades users’ data without their consent.

In a statement to TIME magazine, Mr. Cook said, “Last year, before a global body of privacy regulators, I laid out four principles that I believe should guide legislation”

  1. The first one was the right to have personal data minimized. According to this principle, companies should challenge themselves for identifying information from customer data or avoid collecting it in the first place.
  2. The second one is the right to knowledge, which states the right to know what data is being collected and why.
  3. The third principle is the right to access which states companies should make it easy for users to access, correct and delete their personal data.
  4. And lastly, the right to data security, without which trust is not possible.

According to Cook, companies that sell data will have to register with the Federal Trade Commission. Users and lawmakers are also unaware of the secondary markets who use personal information of users and fall under shadow economy. He pointed out that few companies are into trading user data and how most of the users are unaware of it.

He says, “One of the biggest challenges in protecting privacy is that many of the violations are invisible. For example, you might have bought a product from an online retailer – something most of us have done. But what the retailer doesn’t tell you is that it then turned around and sold or transferred information about your purchase to a ‘data broker’ – a company that exists purely to collect your information, package it and sell it to yet another buyer.”

In November, the campaign group Privacy International filed complaints asking regulators to investigate whether the basis of their businesses was working against GDPR, the European privacy regulation. Post which, top data brokers, companies such as Experian, Acxiom, Oracle, and Criteo, came under scrutiny in Europe.

Ailidh Callander, Privacy International’s legal officer, said in a press release, “The data broker and ad-tech industries are premised on exploiting people’s data. Most people have likely never heard of these companies, and yet they are amassing as much data about us as they can and building intricate profiles about our lives. GDPR sets clear limits on the abuse of personal data.”

Tim Cook called for comprehensive federal privacy legislation in the US for establishing a registry of data brokers, which would let consumers check what data of theirs is getting sold. The users will further have the right to easily remove their data from that market. He writes in the TIME magazine, “I and others are calling on the US Congress to pass comprehensive federal privacy legislation – a landmark package of reforms that protect and empower the consumer.”

Tim Cook said in a statement to TIME magazine, “Let’s be clear: you never signed up for that. We think every user should have the chance to say, Wait a minute. That’s my information that you’re selling, and I didn’t consent.”

Tim said companies should minimize the amount of data they collect and make an easier way for users to delete it. Tim Cook seems to have hit the chord with the public with this call.

One of the users commented on Twitter, “You have a first-party relationship with FB/TWTR/etc. They show you ads on their service, you manage your data on it (which can be deleted or de-activated). They have to face whatever user outrage they cause.” Users won’t let their data getting compromised and are much agitated by platforms like Facebook. Few users are even thinking of deactivating their accounts on Facebook.

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