Tim Cook calls for reforming biz built on ‘data exploitation’

Taking aim at Facebook, Apple CEO Tim Cook has called for greater scrutiny of businesses built on “data exploitation”.

“If a business is built on misleading users, on data exploitation, on choices that are no choices at all, then it does not deserve our praise. It deserves reform,” Cook said in his keynote speech at Europe’s Computers, Privacy and Data Protection (CPDP) conference on Thursday.

“The fact is that an interconnected ecosystem of companies and data brokers, of purveyors of fake news and peddlers of division, of trackers and hucksters just looking to make a quick buck, is more present in our lives than it has ever been,” he said.

The Apple CEO said that such an ecosystem degrades fundamental right to privacy first and the social fabric by consequence.

His remarks came amid fierce arguments with Facebook over upcoming privacy changes in iOS that that will require app developers to seek permission from users to track them for ad targeting.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has argued that the iOS 14 privacy changes will impact the growth of millions of businesses around the world.

“Apple has every incentive to use their dominant platform position to interfere with how our apps and other apps work, which they regularly do to preference their own,” Zuckerberg said on an earnings call on Wednesday.

“This impacts the growth of millions of businesses around the world, including with the upcoming iOS 14 changes.”

Facebook earlier published full-page newspaper ads to criticise Apple’s upcoming privacy measure.

The Apple CEO in his speech at CPDC reiterated his argument that “if we accept as normal and unavoidable that everything in our lives can be aggregated and sold, then we lose so much more than data. We lose the freedom to be human.”

“Together, we must send a universal, humanistic response to those who claim a right to users’ private information about what should not and will not be tolerated,” he said.

“As I said in Brussels two years ago, it is certainly time, not only for a comprehensive privacy law here in the United States, but also for worldwide laws and new international agreements that enshrine the principles of data minimization, user knowledge, user access and data security across the globe,” Cook said.