In some of his harshest rebukes of his competitors yet, Mr Cook, pictured, sought to distinguish the iPhone maker from Silicon Valley competitors, like Alphabet's Google and Facebook, both under scrutiny for recent user data breaches.
"These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded, and sold", he added.
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg responded by defending his company's ad-based business model, arguing users were aware of a trade-off for free services. Users in Europe had access to those features upon GDPR's enaction.
"We shouldn't sugarcoat the consequences", he said Wednesday. That has served the company ー and Cook ー well over the last two years, as consumers have begun to take a more skeptical eye to the way they interface with the tech companies in their lives.
In his speech, Cook appealed to ethics, as well as the possibility of tech companies to thrive while still respecting users' rights.More news: Google Lens feature now within Google Image Search results
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"Fortunately, this year you have shown the world that good policy and political will can come together to protect the rights of everyone", he said. "We also celebrate the new steps taken, not only here in Europe, but around the world". In many more nations regulators are asking tough questions - and crafting effective reform. Noting that Cook's comments echo the words of privacy advocates, who have always been pushing for regulations that protect consumers, Paul Bischoff, privacy advocate with Comparitech.com, said, "We're already starting to see progress in the United States along those lines, such as California's Consumer Privacy Act".
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", "wishes and fears" or "hopes and dreams" - the kind of data points tracked by tech firms and advertisers.
The right to have greater knowledge regarding their data being collected.
"We are living in transformative times, including the right to access personal data. These players hold massive quantities of data, and we should never assume that they will ever have our best interests at heart". "We have to think about striking the right balance between speech, security, privacy and safety".
In a series of tweets that followed his address, Cook expanded on his call to action, saying "privacy is a fundamental human right".
In Washington, two United States senators said Alphabet Inc.'s disclosure of user data vulnerabilities at Google+ raised "serious questions" over whether it violated a 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission, potentially exposing Google to penalties, Reuters reported. "But we know that it won't happen on its own". "There are some things that I won't allow; I don't want them on a social network".