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‘Technology Needs to Be Regulated.’ Apple CEO Tim Cook Says No Oversight Has Led To Great Damage To Society

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Apple CEO Tim Cook has called for more government regulation on the technology industry in order to protect privacy in an interview at the TIME 100 Summit in New York.

“We all have to be intellectually honest, and we have to admit that what we’re doing isn’t working,” said Cook, in an interview with former TIME Editor in Chief Nancy Gibbs. “Technology needs to be regulated. There are now too many examples where the no rails have resulted in a great damage to society.”

Cook, who took over from Steve Jobs as Apple’s CEO in 2011, is one of the most prominent voices in Silicon Valley calling for the government to step in to his industry in order to protect user rights and privacy.

In the interview, Cook suggested that U.S. regulators could look to Europe’s passage of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018. “GDPR isn’t ideal,” said Cook. “But GDPR is a step in the right direction.”

In light of recent data breaches and foreign election influence through social media, Cook’s view is that the tech industry has no other responsible option but to accept more government oversight, a position he outlined in a recent TIME Ideas piece.

“I’m hopeful,” Cook said at the Summit. “We are advocating strongly for regulation — I do not see another path.”

Cook also explained Apple’s stance on transparency and money in politics. “We focus on policies, not politics,” Cook said. “Apple doesn’t have a PAC…I refuse to have one because it shouldn’t exist.”

The CEO also spoke on Apple’s positions on other issues, like immigration and education, as well as the company’s new emphasis on health-related technology, like the newest Apple Watch, which includes a built-in EKG.

“I do think that there will be the day that we will look back and say, ‘Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind was in healthcare’.”

Cook also explained the way that Apple thinks about the relationship between people and the devices the company creates.

Apple doesn’t want to keep people glued to the phones in their pockets, which is why they have developed tools to help users keep track of the amount of time they spend on their phones, Cook said.

“Apple never wanted to maximize user time,” Cook said. “We’ve never been about that. We’re not motivated to do that from a business point of view, and we’re certainly not motivated from a values point of view.”

“If you’re looking at a phone more than someone’s eyes, you’re doing the wrong thing,” Cook said.

Speaking on those issues, Cook returned to his own perspective on corporate responsibility. He says corporate leaders should do what they think is right, instead of trying to avoid controversy.

“I try not to get wrapped up in a pretzel about who we upset,” Cook said. “At the end of the day we’ll be judged more on ‘did we stand up for what we believed in,’ not necessarily, ‘do they agree with it.'”

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Write to Alejandro de la Garza at alejandro.delagarza@time.com