Apple’s relationship with China has become trickier than ever this month as it banned an app that was used by protesters in Hong Kong, then allowed it again, only to ban it the next week. Now US lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook criticizing the company of censorship and asking it to put “values above market access.”
Reported by Bloomberg, senators and representatives wrote the letter to Cook including Ted Cruz, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ron Wyden, Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, Mike Gallagher, and Tom Malinowski.
“Apple’s decisions last week to accommodate the Chinese government by taking down HKmaps is deeply concerning,” they wrote in a letter to Cook, urging Apple to “reverse course, to demonstrate that Apple puts values above market access, and to stand with the brave men and women fighting for basic rights and dignity in Hong Kong.” Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment on Friday.
In an open letter Cook penned to Apple employees, he said that the decision was made to remove the HKmap Live app because it was in violation of Hong Kong law and to foster user safety.
However, over the past several days we received credible information, from the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau, as well as from users in Hong Kong, that the app was being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property where no police are present. This use put the app in violation of Hong Kong law. Similarly, widespread abuse clearly violates our App Store guidelines barring personal harm.
The lawmakers who wrote this letter of concern to Cook aren’t just talking about this recent example with HKmap Live. They believe Apple has censored at least 2,200 apps including VPNs that can help those in China who are oppressed and are no doubt considering all of those as they ask Apple to put “values above market access” going forward.
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