Apple's Tim Cook calls for privacy bill with right to delete data

Apple CEO Tim Cook said any US privacy legislation should allow consumers to see what data is being collected online and delete
Apple CEO Tim Cook said any US privacy legislation should allow consumers to see what data is being collected online and delete it if they choose

Apple chief executive Tim Cook called on US lawmakers Thursday to pass privacy legislation enabling consumers to see and delete their harvested online personal data from a central clearinghouse.

Cook, writing in Time magazine, offered his view as the US Congress was set to consider tougher enforcement of and for online platforms.

Several lawmakers and activist organizations have proposed data privacy measures, some of which contain elements of the European Union's sweeping General Data Protection Regulation.

The Apple CEO said any new US legislation should give more power to consumers to know what data is being gathered and to delete that information "on demand."

"Meaningful, comprehensive federal should not only aim to put consumers in control of their data, it should also shine a light on actors trafficking in your data behind the scenes," Cook wrote.

He said the Federal Trade Commission, the regulatory agency, "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."

In recent months, Cook has been sharply critical of tech rivals such as Facebook and Google over business models which are built around collecting and monetizing personal data.

Last year, he said in a Brussels speech that consumers' personal data "is being weaponized against us with military efficiency."

"In 2019, it's time to stand up for the right to privacy—yours, mine, all of ours," Cook wrote in Time.

"Consumers shouldn't have to tolerate another year of companies irresponsibly amassing huge user profiles, data breaches that seem out of control and the vanishing ability to control our own digital lives."

He said consumers should have a right to have personal data "minimized," with companies required "to strip identifying information from customer data or avoid collecting it in the first place."

Additionally, Cook said people should have a right "to know what data is being collected and why" and make it easy to access, correct and delete .

He said new legislation plays an important role in helping tech firms win back consumer trust.

"Technology has the potential to keep changing the world for the better, but it will never achieve that potential without the full faith and confidence of the people who use it," he said.

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User comments

Jan 17, 2019
Such rules are simple to get around. Simply "Anonymize" the data, i.e. pretend that you don't know who it is, while still being able to identify the person connected to the profile.

"Look, we have this person's phone number, home address, pet's name, family members, relatives, workplace, but we have not recorded their name or any direct personal information so we cannot tell that it's you. Therefore we don't need to delete the data or even tell you that we have it because officially we don't know who it belongs to."

It's the same system that Google/Facebook/etc. already use for "anonymous" internet users. They record your IP and connect it to a shadow profile in wait of you actually logging in to their service. Once you do, they get a confirmation that the shadow profile is you and can integrate the information. If they keep the shadow database separate, they can pretend to not collect information about you, while collecting information about you.

Jan 17, 2019
In other words, it's not enough to tell companies to show or delete your information on request. It's like the "do not track" signal sent by browsers - nobody actually has to honor it and there are no consequences. Even now Google allows for you to "opt-out" of their tracking, by installing a tracking cookie to your browser - duh.

Another simple way to bypass the "do not track me" opt-out is to simply use another company as the data collector. You told X to not track you, but you didn't tell Y, and Y gives X the same data. When you discover Y and tell them to stop, company Z pops up... you can never stop them.

What is needed is explicit rules on data collection: opt-in, not opt-out.

Jan 18, 2019
Shit bags come smelling first.

Just one of those things that has to be beaten back from the given get go.

Parasites and predators are constantly moving rovers and opportunists, like sharks.

The end point in the logic is that exploitation almost always precedes benefit in any system erected by humans, and that exploitation must be looked for, even when it seems there is none.

It will be there. It always is.

If in doubt, and everything remains in doubt, to beat on the thing. the politician, the corporation and so on. It's partially parasite, that is it's nature. Always hit it.

Like the rust that never sleeps, always seek out it's lies, flaws and exploitation. As the rust of the parasite and the predator never sleeps.

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