Natasha Lomas reports on Tim Cook’s recent address in Brussels:

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has joined the chorus of voices warning that data itself is being weaponized against people and societies — arguing that the trade in digital data has exploded into a “data industrial complex”.

Cook did not namecheck the adtech elephants in the room: Google, Facebook and other background data brokers that profit from privacy-hostile business models. But his target was clear.

“Our own information — from the everyday to the deeply personal — is being weaponized against us with military efficiency,” warned Cook. “These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded and sold.

“Taken to the extreme this process creates an enduring digital profile and lets companies know you better than you may know yourself. Your profile is a bunch of algorithms that serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into harm.”

“We shouldn’t sugarcoat the consequences. This is surveillance,” he added. …

“For artificial intelligence to be truly smart it must respect human values — including privacy. If we get this wrong, the dangers are profound. We can achieve both great artificial intelligence and great privacy standards. It is not only a possibility — it is a responsibility.” …

Cook said Apple is “in full support of a comprehensive, federal privacy law in the United States” — making the company’s clearest statement yet of support for robust domestic privacy laws…

Good for Tim Cook and Apple for continuing to lead on this issue. Apple’s position is an essentially conservative one, advocating restraint on the part of both government and private entities from overzealously compiling what are, in effect, dossiers designed to coerce or otherwise manipulate.

Apple may prove to be a better protector of our Fourth Amendment rights than many whom we’ve elected to government to defend those rights.