Apple GDPR Berlin
26. October 2018

Cook’s – surprising – opinion on GDPR



If you happened to be strolling through Berlin, maybe in the more touristic places like Brandenburger Tor or Alexanderplatz, last Sunday, you might have had a surprising encounter.

Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, might have been casually walking next to you. Cook was in Berlin on a short trip before his speech at the Debating Ethics conference, held in Bruxelles, which boasted in its ranks numerous top players in the data collecting companies, and also a fair share of European Commission representatives.

“I’m a big fan of the GDPR” he said when prompted, but also thinks that “it’s not all that needs to be done.”

“We would like to see not only the US, but many other countries in the world follow Europe’s lead here and take it even further.”

Cook’s position on data privacy is somewhat different then what we’d come to expect from the leader of one of the biggest data-collecting company in the world. A strong advocate of the “ right to oblivion “ but also all the other rights the GDPR grants to Europeans: in his own words “ We fully support a federal privacy law in the U.S. which should grant at least four fundamental rights”.

The right to have personal data minimized to the bare minimum by companies, the right to know which datas are in possession of companies and how are they used, the right of access to data by the citizens, and last but not least, the right to have their data secured.

And if the leader of one of the most successful brands of this century, with his history of innovation, pioneers of the Cloud (and of data leaks), says so, we can assess how bad the situation really is in the U.S.of A.

Apple’s boss admiration for GDPR pushes him farther, defining European data regulation as the “paved way” for all the industrialized countries, advocating its use in countries like Singapore, Japan, Brasil, and so on, not only because it’s just right for the people, but also because it will contribute significantly to the future development of the tech industry.

That may seem counterintuitive, if we don’t take into account the evolution of trend-setting sectors of the IT business, such as Cloud services or the Internet of Things: Cook’s opinion is that “ we will never develop the full potential of technology, if we don’t fully trust the people behind the innovation “.

His quick visit to Berlin concluded with his testing of some of the city’s most interesting apps, mostly related to Augmented Reality, and also with a reflection on the status of A.I. regarding data protection.

In his opinion, we should not think of the future of A.I. versus Privacy in aut-aut terms, such as “one can’t exist because of the other “ but instead switch the focus on how to better integrate the founding principles of GDPR with artificial intelligence, a kind of “privacy by design” principle.

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