FCC Commissioner Criticizes Apple CEO Tim Cook Over App Store Censorship in China

Frank Fang
By Frank Fang
April 24, 2022Chinashare
FCC Commissioner Criticizes Apple CEO Tim Cook Over App Store Censorship in China
Apple CEO Tim Cook speak to the press during a tour of the Flextronics computer manufacturing facility in Austin, Texas, on Nov. 20, 2019. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

A Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner has called out Apple CEO Tim Cook for hypocrisy, arguing that his company’s dealings with the Chinese communist regime contradicts his own words about commitment to human rights in a speech in Washington.

“I am concerned that your words in Washington founder upon the harsh reality of your actions in China,” Brendan Carr, the senior Republican on the FCC, wrote in a letter to Cook dated April 20.

Carr was referring to Cook’s keynote speech at the 2022 International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) Global Privacy Summit on April 12. During his speech, Cook spoke about how “privacy is a fundamental human right” and touted Apple’s “commitment to protecting people from a data industrial complex, built on a foundation of surveillance.”

“Indeed, at the very same time that you were speaking in D.C. about your App Store policies promoting privacy and human rights, your company was continuing its well documented campaign in Beijing of aggressively censoring apps at the behest of the Communist Party of China,” Carr wrote.

According to Carr, Apple had committed “the bidding of Communist China” by removing Quran and Bible apps, and the Voice of America (VOA) mobile app from its App Store in China.

Carr described Apple’s decision to remove the VOA app, which is congressionally-funded, as “deeply troubling.”

In October 2021, Apple Censorship, a website that tracks apps on Apple’s App Store globally, reported that two apps, Quran Majeed and Bible App by Olive Tree, had been taken down. Apple later told the BBC that Chinese officials had said the apps contained “illegal” religious texts.

“Apple’s decision to appease the Communist Party of China—an authoritarian regime that the State Department has determined is committing genocide and crimes against humanity—cannot be squared with your representation in Washington that Apple will ‘battle against an array of dangerous actors,’” Carr wrote.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) imposes strict control over its Internet and its censors regularly scrub online content that is deemed unfavorable to the communist regime. Washington-based nonprofit Freedom House called China “the world’s worst abuser of Internet freedom” in its Freedom on the Net 2021 report.

The Chinese regime also blocks many foreign social media and news websites, including YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Voice of America.

Apple also made the controversial decision to pull crowd-sourced app HKmap.live from its App Store in October 2019, amid the height of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. The map app was popular among Hong Kong protesters to avoid direct confrontation with Hong Kong Police, which has been heavily criticized for its violent handling of protesters and journalists.

Carr also criticized global corporations like Apple for giving “all sorts of reasonable sounding arguments” to justify their decisions to do business in China. He said these arguments “run headlong into real world experience.”

In December 2021, The Information reported that Cook traveled to China in 2016, lobbied Chinese officials, and secured a secretive $275 billion deal with Beijing that involved more investments and working training in China from Apple, citing internal Apple documents. The five-year deal was made to “quash a sudden burst of [Chinese] regulatory actions against Apple’s business.”

“China is not becoming more open or bending towards freedom because Apple is doing business there. Far from it,” Carr wrote. “Look at Hong Hong. Look at Xinjiang.”

He added, “Continuing to partner with brutal regimes like Communist China only provides them with tacit—if not explicit—support and emboldens those bad actors.”

Carr concluded his letter by asking Cook to answer a question by April 29 this year.

“Will Apple allow access to the Voice of America mobile app through its App Store in China, consistent with the fundamental human rights that you articulated in your speech,” Carr asked.

Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.) reposted Carr’s letter and said she looks forward to hear what Apple has to say about Voice of America.

“Big Tech companies like Apple love to profess one set of values to elitist crowds in the U.S., but when push comes to shove, they’re quick to kowtow to the Chinese Communist Party,” she wrote.

The Epoch Times has reached out to Apple for comment. 

From The Epoch Times

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