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Tim Cook talks data privacy and DACA in interview

Apple CEO Tim Cook continued to hammer home Apple's corporate values in an interview aired Friday, calling data privacy one of this century's top issues and vowing to fight for immigrant protections until his "toes point up."

Tim Cook



Cook in a one-on-one with ABC News' Rebecca Jarvis expressed concern that the data collection and monetization policies of companies like Facebook and Google are beginning to erode freedom of expression in America.

"But if all of sudden, you know that you're being watched by a private company or by whomever all the time, you begin to do less. Maybe not much at first, but just a little, step by step by step," Cook said. "And you begin to monitor your behavior. You begin to browse less, you begin to explore less. And that is not a world I want to live in. And that is not a world I want kids to live in."

He went on to say that freedom of expression and exploration are core values in America.

With the data of a large portion of the world is already being gobbled up by big tech, Apple is attempting to "put the genie back in the bottle," Cook said. Tools like Sign in with Apple, a secure user authentication feature that limits data tracking, and encrypted data transmissions to iCloud are samples of what Apple brings to the table.

Echoing an oft-repeated refrain, Cook said he believes customers should be in control of their data. To that end, the executive thinks government regulation is now necessary.

"I am not a fan of regulation in general, I think it can have unexpected consequence[s]," he said. "But I think we all have to admit that when you try to do something and companies haven't self-policed that it's time to it's time to have a rigorous regulation. And I think we've passed that time. I think the time is now to have a federal privacy bill."

That said, regulators are placing too much emphasis on breaking up large companies, Cook believes. Apple itself is the focus of an ongoing antitrust inquiry involving potential anticompetitive conduct in the digital marketplace. Some are calling for fines or a splintering of the tech giant into separate entities.

"In the area of data, unless you take an action where there's materially less data in the companies that are left, you haven't done anything. You haven't done anything," he said. "I think there's too much focus on fines and breakups and not enough on the data that the companies hold that users did not make an informed decision to give."

In a separate segment of the interview, Cook offered thoughts on immigration reform, saying he will continue to fight for DACA protections. Apple currently employs 450 people under DACA, and Cook recently signed a Supreme Court brief in support of the program.

"I will fight until my toes point up on the subject because I think that it is so core to who we are as a people that we not turn our back on people that came into the country as kids, they were brought here well before they could make a decision on their own," Cook said. "These people are the core of what an American is."