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


Apple CEO Tim Cook delivers a keynote address during the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference in San Jose, California on June 5, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Josh Edelson

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 privacy and data protection 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 privacy legislation 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 consumer protection 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 personal data.

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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