Speaking at the 40th International Conference of Data Protection & Privacy Commissioners, Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, asked for a comprehensive new set of federal privacy laws in the U.S.

We at Apple are in full support of a comprehensive federal privacy law in the United States. There, and everywhere, it should be rooted in four essential rights:

  1. First, the right to have personal data minimized. Companies should challenge themselves to de-identify customer data—or not to collect it in the first place.

  2. Second, the right to knowledge. Users should always know what data is being collected and what it is being collected for. This is the only way to empower users to decide what collection is legitimate and what isn't. Anything less is a sham.

  3. Third, the right to access. Companies should recognize that data belongs to users, and we should all make it easy for users to get a copy of…correct…and delete their personal data.

  4. And fourth, the right to security. Security is foundational to trust and all other privacy rights.

Tim Cook's Apple has long held that privacy is a fundamental human right and one essential not only to who we are as a people now but who we will become as a people going forward.

Evidence for how we have to come together to frame out digital future is evident not only in the ongoing debate between companies and governments over encryption and back doors, but on how the tools we've let into our lives have been shaping those lives.

We need you to keep making progress—now more than ever. Because these are transformative times. Around the world, from Copenhagen to Chennai to Cupertino, new technologies are driving breakthroughs in humanity's greatest common projects. From preventing and fighting disease…To curbing the effects of climate change…To ensuring every person has access to information and economic opportunity.

At the same time, we see vividly—painfully—how technology can harm rather than help. Platforms and algorithms that promised to improve our lives can actually magnify our worst human tendencies. 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.

This crisis is real. It is not imagined, or exaggerated, or "crazy." And those of us who believe in technology's potential for good must not shrink from this moment.

Cook seems to remain optimistic, as are many of us. Even in the face of leaders who often seem not to understand even the basics of the technology they're required to govern, and of a long string of data breaches and abuses, of security exploits and privacy violations.

But that optimism fuels not just a desire for change but a will to drive it.

Now, there are those who would prefer I hadn't said all of that. Some oppose any form of privacy legislation. Others will endorse reform in public, and then resist and undermine it behind closed doors.

They may say to you, 'our companies will never achieve technology's true potential if they are constrained with privacy regulation.' But this notion isn't just wrong, it is destructive.

Technology's potential is, and always must be, rooted in the faith people have in it…In the optimism and creativity that it stirs in the hearts of individuals…In its promise and capacity to make the world a better place.

It's time to face facts. We will never achieve technology's true potential without the full faith and confidence of the people who use it.

Cook didn't claim to have all the answers but, citing the early lead Steve Jobs took on privacy, Cook said it was important to always come back to the right question: "What kind of world do we want to live in."

In the pursuit of artificial intelligence, we should not sacrifice the humanity, creativity, and ingenuity that define our human intelligence.

And at Apple, we never will.

Watch the whole video above.

VECTOR | Rene Ritchie

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