Apple's Tim Cook: App-Targeted Antitrust Regulations Would Hurt Privacy

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple at the IAPP Global Privacy Summit
Apple CEO Tim Cook at the IAPP Global Privacy Summit in Washington.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said proposed new privacy and antitrust regulations being teed up could put iPhone users’ privacy and security at risk.

Cook spoke at the IAPP Global Privacy Summit Tuesday (April 12) in Washington.

He said Apple supports a strong, comprehensive national privacy law, but said he is “deeply concerned” about regulations “that would undermine privacy and security in service of some other aim.” That aim would be competition.

In the name of competition, Cook said, some are taking steps to allow apps without privacy protections to circumvent App Store safeguards and “track users against their will.”

One example is the Open Markets Act, which would reduce the control that Apple and Google have over their respective app stores.

Cook countered the argument that new regulations directed at app stores would simply give people more choice and cause no harm. He said taking away a more secure option would leave users with less choice, not more.

He said he wanted to make clear that Apple supports competition that drives innovation and recognizes that supporters of antitrust rules have good intentions. But if Apple is forced to allow unvetted apps onto its phones, he said, the unintended consequences will be “profound.”

He said Apple is obliged to speak up, and would continue to speak up, to convince well-intentioned policymakers not to undermine privacy in the process.

Regulations must be crafted to protect fundamental rights, he said, and there is much to gain if Washington gets it right. ■

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.