Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook renewed a cautionary theme at a major privacy conference Tuesday, warning consumers of a “data-industrial complex built on surveillance.”
has made privacy a linchpin of its marketing strategy and advocated privacy law while steadfastly warning of the dangers of legislation that goes too far and compromises consumers. One such law, the European Union’s Digital Markets Act, goes into effect next year and is likely to free developers from onerous commission fees charged by Apple, Google parent Alphabet Inc.
and other major app platforms. Apple and Cook have warned the law would result in sideloading, or allowing some unsecure alternate app stores on the App Store.
Speaking at the International Association of Privacy Professionals in Washington, D.C., Cook said Apple is “deeply concerned” sideloading apps on its iOS platform would allow apps to “circumvent the App Store” and let “data-hungry companies” skirt Apple’s privacy rules and “once again track our users against their will.”
Still, Cook — who has called privacy “one of the top issues of the century” in interviews and speeches the past few years — continued a call Tuesday for “a strong, comprehensive privacy law in the United States. But we are deeply concerned about regulations that would undermine privacy and security in service of some other aim.”
Cook delivered the remarks less than a week after Apple bolted the State Privacy and Security Coalition, a major coalition pushing for industry-friendly privacy legislation. Apple said it dropped out because it believes those bills don’t adequately protect user privacy.
“Apple finds itself at an interesting crossroads where its efforts to prioritize security and privacy of user data and its ecosystem are butting heads with regulators desire to recapture some control over its closed ecosystem and the anti-competitive environment it creates,” Daniel Newman, principal analyst at Futurum Research, told MarketWatch. “Historically, a lack of competition was bad for consumers, but the advent of these mega platforms has created best-in-class experiences that require tighter ecosystem controls — especially if protecting data and privacy is a priority.”
Cook’s keynote speech was part of a program Tuesday that includes Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan, whose agency has targeted Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc.
for its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp; Microsoft Corp.
President Brad Smith, who has adopted the role of a White Knight in Big Tech’s dance with antitrust legislation; and Didier Reynolds, European Commissioner for Justice.