U.S. Senators Ask Apple Why VPN Apps Were Removed From China App Store

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Two U.S. senators have written to Apple CEO Tim Cook asking why the company removed third-party VPN apps from its App Store in China (via CNBC). Reports that Apple had pulled the VPN apps first arrived in July, following regulations passed earlier in the year that require such apps to be authorized by the Chinese government.

In the open letter dated October 17, Senators Patrick Leahy and Ted Cruz write that China has an "abysmal" human rights record when it comes to freedom of expression and free access to online and offline information, and say they are "concerned that Apple may be enabling the Chinese government's censorship and surveillance of the internet".

Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas, left) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont)
"While Apple's many contributions to the global exchange of information are admirable, removing VPN apps that allow individuals in China to evade the Great Firewall and access the internet privately does not enable people in China to 'speak up'."

"To the contrary, if Apple complies with such demands from the Chinese government it inhibits free expression for users across China, particularly in light of the Cyberspace Administration of China's new regulations targeting online anonymity."
The senators go on to note that Cook was awarded the free speech award at Newseum's 2017 Free Expression Awards, where he said: "First we defend, we work to defend these freedoms by enabling people around the world to speak up. And second, we do it by speaking up ourselves."

In the bipartisan request, the senators then ask Cook to explain Apple's actions by answering a list of questions, including whether Apple was personally asked to remove the VPN apps by Chinese officials, and if the company expressed its concerns to the Chinese authorities before the country's anti-freedom laws were enacted.

In addition, the senators question what Apple has done to promote free speech in China and whether it has pushed for human rights and better treatment of oppressed groups in the country.

During an earnings call, Cook spoke about his decision to remove the VPN apps. "We would rather not remove apps, but like we do in other countries, we follow the law where we do business." Cook went on to say that he hopes China will ease up on the restrictions over time.

Apple has yet to respond to the letter.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Article Link: U.S. Senators Ask Apple Why VPN Apps Were Removed From China App Store
 


upnorth85

macrumors 6502a
Oct 2, 2011
566
163
MN, USA
this is height of hypocrisy The federal government forced Apple to unlock an iPhone in a terrorism related case. It also tried to force Apple to keep a backdoor for NSA/FBI. Apple refused. Apple is required to follow all of the laws in every country that it operates. Apple is following the law in China. Apple must respond to the the senators saying that they are following the law in China like they do in the US.
 

gnipgnop

macrumors 65816
Feb 18, 2009
1,328
1,506
China can shut down any business they want at any time for any reason they can dream up. It's an authoritarian country, not a democracy. Apple has a little bit of room to maneuver within their system, but not much. What do Leahy and Cruz expect Apple to do? Throw down the gauntlet over VPNs? Not realistic. Trump style tantrums don't work.
 

err404

macrumors 68030
Mar 4, 2007
2,509
613
Apple can make any political stand they want, but they can’t break a nations laws. Putting VPN apps on iOS in China would mean no App Store in China at all. How does that help anybody’s free expression?
[doublepost=1508498823][/doublepost]
It's a trap.

"So if you can assist the Chinese in monitoring their peoples communications, why can't you assist us?"
This. China made it a law. If the US wanted to make it law, Apple would do the same here. Fortunately for us, these senators know that pushing for such a law would be political suicide.
 

magicschoolbus

macrumors 65816
May 27, 2014
1,467
5,041
Two old white men trying to be relevant with the SJW crowds.
Why are these people still in their positions?
Two old white men trying to be relevant with SJW crowds...

First of all, being the oh so tolerant liberal that you are, I thought we were over judging people by their skin color or gender. Your comment seems to be the one that's trying to be relevant with the SJW crowds.
 

citysnaps

macrumors 603
Oct 10, 2011
5,127
7,760
San Francisco
Two U.S. senators have written to Apple CEO Tim Cook asking why the company removed third-party VPN apps from its App Store in China (via CNBC).
Cooks view:
"We would rather not remove apps, but like we do in other countries, we follow the law where we do business."

Sounds straightforward to me.
 
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pika2000

macrumors 603
Jun 22, 2007
5,408
4,652
Two old white men trying to be relevant with SJW crowds...

First of all, being the oh so tolerant liberal that you are, I thought we were over judging people by their skin color or gender. Your comment seems to be the one that's trying to be relevant with the SJW crowds.
Judging? How?
Are those two old? Yes.
Are they white? Yes.
Are they men? Yes.
Those are facts. Don’t tell me you are offended by facts. Trumper much?

And they are trying to make people think they care about speech (things that some SJW are noisy about) in China (while they themselves supported draconian policies in the US). Add on to the fact that China has its own laws where businesses must comply to do business there. Can foreign companies do business in the US without following US regulations? No.
 
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Chicane-UK

macrumors 6502
Apr 26, 2008
430
965
If you want to do business in a country, you need to abide by the rules that the government for that country demands. I don't think this is rocket science?
 
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pika2000

macrumors 603
Jun 22, 2007
5,408
4,652
If you want to do business in a country, you need to abide by the rules that the government for that country demands. I don't think this is rocket science?
It’s not, but when you can create a story of good (these two senators “defending” speech) vs evil (multi billion dollar company Apple), it can be played out in politics.
 

Piggie

macrumors G3
Feb 23, 2010
8,290
2,474
Funny how it's ok to have encryption in foriegn countries but when it's local the gov wants access.
Of course it is.
That why our troops that kill foreigners and not evil murderers.
Cos they are on our side.
[doublepost=1508501367][/doublepost]
If you want to do business in a country, you need to abide by the rules that the government for that country demands. I don't think this is rocket science?
So if the rules of THAT land said images of child abuse was fine, then you would expect Apple to support this and not remove any such images as they are ok in THAT country where they are selling their phones?