Apple CEO Tim Cook has spoken of the likelihood customer data is being “weaponised with military efficiency” by companies privy to the information.
Speaking at the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners Cook said Apple had been pushing for stronger protection of consumer data and privacy.
“The desire to put profits over privacy is nothing new,” Cook said.
“Today that trade has exploded into a data industrial complex. Our own information, from the everyday to the deeply personal, is being weaponised against us with military efficiency,” he said.
While data on an individual level isn’t concerning, Cook said the issues lie in companies “assembling” data.
“These scraps of data … each one harmless enough on its own … are carefully assembled, synthesised, traded, and sold.”
“If green is your favourite colour, you may find yourself reading a lot of articles — or watching a lot of videos — about the insidious threat from people who like orange,” Cook said.
Speaking on the harsh reality of companies harnessing consumer data, Cook said: “We shouldn’t sugarcoat the consequences.
“This is surveillance. And these stockpiles of personal data serve only to enrich the companies that collect them.
“Platforms and algorithms that promised to improve our lives can actually magnify our worst human tendencies,” Cook said.
Cook added institutions are continuously “taking advantage” of consumers, and people should be more aware of what is being done with the data.
“Rogue actors and even governments have taken advantage of user trust to deepen divisions, incite violence, and even undermine our shared sense of what is true and what is false.”
“Users should always know what data is being collected and what it is being collected for,” he said.
“This is the only way to empower users to decide what collection is legitimate and what isn’t. Anything less is a sham,” he finished.