Apple’s Cook set to back strong privacy laws in Europe, US at Brussels event

Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, speaks during the Fortune 500 Global Forum in Guangzhou, Guandong Province, China, 06 December 2017. [EPA-EFE/ALEKSANDAR PLAVEVSKI]

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook is expected to praise new European privacy rules and to voice the company’s support for strong laws in Europe and the United States to protect the use of data, according to prepared remarks for a Brussels event.

Cook will describe Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), as an example of how “good policy and political will can come together to protect the rights of us all,” according to the remarks, seen by Reuters ahead of a gathering of international privacy regulators on Wednesday.

Cook was also expected to endorse a comprehensive federal privacy law in the United States, the strongest statement by Apple to date.

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Issues over how data is used and how consumers can protect their personal information have come under the spotlight recently following massive breaches of data privacy involving millions of internet and social media users in Europe and the United States.

Cook, scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners, will be one of several executives from US tech companies to present their views at the two-day event.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai will share their thoughts via video messages.

But Apple, which designs many of its products so that it can’t see users’ data, was expected to send Cook to speak in person. The iPhone maker has largely avoided the data privacy scandals that have affected its rivals Google and Facebook this year.

In particular, Cook has publicly criticised Facebook’s business model, arguing it depends on building out detailed profiles of users in order to target advertisements.

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Apple views privacy as a “fundamental human right,” Cook is expected to say at the event.

“We will never achieve technology’s true potential without the full faith and confidence of the people who use it,” he will say.

Other U.S. tech giants such as Amazon, Alphabet Inc, AT&T Inc, Charter Communications Inc, and Twitter Inc have said they would back new federal privacy regulations.

Technology companies have been concerned about strict and varying state-level privacy laws in the United States, such as the one signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown earlier this year that goes into effect in 2020.

Such laws could create a patchwork of differing regulations across the United States that could be difficult to comply with. A uniform federal law could supersede state-level rules.

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