Data is being "weaponized" against users

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I see privacy as one of the top few issues of the century and it's to that level and because of the number of nefarious things that can happen, I advocate to put the user in control. Technology industry representatives and privacy officials from more than 70 countries attended the gathering. "We at Apple are in full support of a comprehensive federal privacy law in the United States", he added to a round of applause.

Cook's keynote in Brussels at the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners didn't mention Facebook and Google, two companies he's criticized before over privacy and data collection.

Companies are creating digital profiles of their users, and running those profiles through algorithms to "serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into hardened convictions", Cook said.

He cited former US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis who in a Harvard Law Review article in 1890 warned that gossip was no longer the resource of the idle and the vicious but had become a trade. They have affected millions of internet and social media users across the United States and Europe. Google will pay Apple as much as $9bn this year for its search engine to be the default on many parts of the iPhone and other Apple devices, Goldman Sachs estimates.

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Cook told Amanpour he chose to come out after receiving letters from young LGBTQ people and realized staying silent was "selfish" if he could help others by coming out.

Asked his thoughts on the Trump administration's debate over the definition of gender, Cook said, "My strong view is that everybody should be treated with dignity and respect, and that's the way I look at everyone". However, this comes with increased risks for misuse of personal information.

"These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded, and sold", he added.

"Our own information - from the everyday to the deeply personal - is being weaponized against us with military efficiency".

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"Users should always know what data is being collected and what it is being collected for", he said.

Cook also laid out four core principles for data protection: Companies should avoid collecting data, or de-couple data from personally identifiable information, when possible; users should be aware of the data that is being collected on them; companies should give users tools to move and delete their data; and personal data should be kept secure. He said people should be concerned.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook has warned consumers they are being targeted with "military precision" by big tech firms.

In a phone interview with The Register, Matthew Heiman, senior fellow at the National Security Institute and chair of the Cyber and Privacy Working Group at the Regulatory Transparency Project, cautioned that Apple's celebration of its position on privacy should be seen in light of its business model and competitive concerns. Apple plans to expand it worldwide.

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Zuckerberg said Facebook takes seriously its "basic ethical responsibility" to safeguard personal information.