Apple CEO Tim Cook is expected to reaffirm the company's commitment to data privacy, and throw support behind government-backed initiatives that seek the same, in a keynote address at the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners on Wednesday, according to a new report.
Apple apparently shared a few details of Cook's prepared remarks with TechCrunch, which published the excerpts on Tuesday alongside a brief synopsis of current data privacy issues facing the tech industry and world at large.
Drawing from the few soundbites provided to the publication, Apple's views on privacy will expectedly define the tenor of Cook's speech. Specifically, the executive intends to toe the company line and portray data privacy as a "fundamental human right."
Apple executives consistently use the term when speaking about data, data collection and related issues. Most recently, VP of Software Technology Guy "Bud" Tribble expressed "Apple's support for comprehensive federal privacy legislation that reflects Apple's long-held view that privacy is a fundamental human right" during a U.S. Senate committee hearing on privacy legislation last month. Cook himself has used the same phrase in multiple interviews.
What Tribble alluded to in September, Cook is expected to more forcefully aver in his speech tomorrow. The Apple chief is expected to endorse a "comprehensive federal privacy law" for the U.S., using the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as an example of "good policy and political will can come together to protect the rights of us all," according to TechCrunch.
In a recent interview with Vice, Cook said that while he is not pro-regulation, he believes lawmakers need to be up to speed on tech and privacy. That means "some level" of government regulation.
Europe's data privacy rubric will likely be a major theme for Cook, as the conference in Brussels will bring together some of the continent's top privacy advocates and industry thinkers. This year's gathering is the first to be hosted by a European Union institution and the first to host a CEO as its keynote speaker.
Cook plans to give a nod to ethical business practices, as he is expected to say that at Apple "we are optimistic about technology's awesome potential for good. But we know that it won't happen on its own. Every day, we work to infuse the devices we make with the humanity that makes us."
The company has gone to great lengths to ensure customer data is protected not only from hackers, but unwarranted search and seizure. Device and service safeguards run so deep that most data is inaccessible by Apple itself. From end-to-end Messages encryption to "differential privacy" data collection and specialized hardware like secure enclaves, Apple has made substantial investments toward sheltering user data from prying eyes.
Cook will also share a hopeful vision of technology and privacy, urging delegates to "keep making progress" on "humanity's greatest common project." That project involves a range of hot-button sociopolitical issues like climate change, disease, education and economy inclusion, the report said.
Cook is scheduled to deliver the keynote at 10:05 a.m. local time.