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Apple boss Tim Cook praises GDPR and wants tough US privacy law

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Tim Cook made an unusual statement in Brussels, calling on the US to enact stronger privacy laws

Apple chief executive Tim Cook has demanded a tough new US data protection law, in an unusual speech in Europe.

Referring to the misuse of “deeply personal” data, he said it was being “weaponised against us with military efficiency”.

“We shouldn’t sugar-coat the consequences,” he added. “This is surveillance.”

The strongly-worded speech presented a striking defence of user privacy rights from a tech firm’s chief executive.

Mr Cook also praised the EU’s new data protection regulation, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The new law came into force in May.

Mr Cook’s speech was made in Brussels, at the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners.

The Apple boss described in some detail what he called the “data industrial complex”, noting that billions of dollars were traded on the basis of people’s likes and dislikes, which are only two of the data points tracked by tech firms and advertisers.

The situation “should make us very uncomfortable, it should unsettle us”, he warned.

Mr Cook went on to commend the EU’s GDPR, which places stricter rules on how personal data is handled by businesses and organisations.

‘Follow EU’s lead’

“This year you’ve shown the world that good policy and political will can come together to protect the rights of everyone,” he said.

“It is time for the rest of the world, including my home country, to follow your lead.

“We in Apple are in full support of a comprehensive federal privacy law in the United States.”

The remark was met with applause from the conference audience.

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Apple has long been committed to privacy protection.

The firm was famously locked in a dispute with the FBI over the fact that it would not help the bureau access data on the phone of a dead gunman who was involved in the San Bernardino shooting in 2015.

Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai, chief executives of Facebook and Google, will also appear at the conference later this week in the form of pre-recorded video messages.

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