US lawmakers attack Apple for song takedowns in Chinese government censorship effort

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited April 12
Apple's decision to pull songs from its Apple Music service in China by pro-democracy musicians has come under fire from US lawmakers, suggesting Apple should not be taking part in what amounts to censorship by the Chinese government.




On Tuesday, it was reported Apple had removed a song called "Ren Jian Dao" from Apple Music in China that referenced the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. A cover of the song, translated as "Path of Man," was also taken down from Tencent's QQ Music service, with the takedowns considered an indication the government was cracking down on pro-democracy media.

Songs by other pro-democracy artists were also hit, with artist listings and discographies scrubbed completely from Apple's servers in some cases.

It is believed the takedowns were part of the Chinese government's attempts to prevent public demonstrations ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in June, and is likely to continue with other works being proactively censored.

The move has led to members of the U.S. Congress to criticize Apple for its role in the government-led crackdown. Speaking to The Verge, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) declared "It's disgraceful to see one of America's most innovative, influential tech companies support the Communist Chinese government's aggressive censorship efforts within China" ahead of the anniversary.

China's government is described by Rubio as a regime that had "constructed a totalitarian state through truly Orwellian levels of mass surveillance, thought censorship, and human rights abuses." Apple had "turned a blind eye to complicity" to retain access to the market, the senator continued.

Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) chastised Apple for failing to "be a stronger voice for freedom around the globe," as well as retweeting comments from a human rights group that works to remember victims of communist regime activities.

A similar complaint was made by Representative Greg Walden (R-OR) who called the news troubling. "When reports like this surface we need to ask serious questions to ensure human rights are being protected," said Walden, "and if these reports are true, Apple owes the public an explanation."

Citing the First Amendment's value to US citizens, Representative Bob Latta (R-OH) expressed concern Apple "would acquiesce to demands made by Chinese officials to censor pro-democracy music. We should expect better from these companies, and Apple should address these claims."

The comments from US lawmakers follow similar complaints by critics, including Human Rights Watch's China Director Sophie Richardson calling the decision "spectacularly craven, even by [Apple and Tim Cook's] standards."

Apple has received accusations of abiding by the whims of the Chinese government, which has led to a number of instances in the past where Apple was forced to remove or take down items following government demands.

The list includes the removal of the official New York Times app from the App Store in late 2016, as well as a 2017 request to take down virtual private network (VPN) apps capable of bypassing the "Great Firewall." Apple has also come under fire for opening its first data center in China in 2016, to comply with the country's cybersecurity rules, and in March, disabled an emoji of Taiwan's flag on Chinese Macs running macOS 14.14.1.

Apple's defence for what could be considered highly censorious practices is its insistence the company operates in line with local laws.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 764member
    Easy for therm to be critical. They aren't the ones responsible to shareholders. They aren't the ones trying to keep Apple profitable in China. They don't have the facts or access to the information, and threats, they got from the Chinese Government. It's easy to grandstand when it isn't your @$$ on the line.
    tmaydelreyjonesdanhchasmcornchipEcky-Thumpn2itivguyradarthekatdesignrLordeHawk
  • Reply 2 of 31
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 981member
    We have laws that companies are required to follow even if the laws are different where they are from. Inciting riots with speech or media is one of those. China is no different. They prohibit media that attacks their way of life. What’s interesting is we tend to focus more on other countries deeds that correcting the atrocities happening everyday right here. 
    chasmleavingthebiggn2itivguyradarthekatdesignrviclauyycroundaboutnowCiprolllama
  • Reply 3 of 31
    dewmedewme Posts: 2,193member
    If US lawmakers want to send a message to China about human rights and censorship THEY should do something about it. They are just a bunch of gutless do-nothings trying to use Apple as a tool to do a job that THEY should be doing themselves. Apple is a business that has to play by the rules imposed in the countries that it operates within. Apple does not make the rules, it only follows the rules, rules imposed by the lawmakers in the countries that it operates within. If US lawmakers don't like China's rules, it up to them to negotiate new rules with China's lawmakers, rather than looking to a business to do what they are too lame and inept to do themselves. What a waste of taxpayer money to allow these congressional spectators and masters of inaction to get paid real money for doing absolutely nothing and looking like fools while doing it.
    delreyjoneschasmleavingthebiggcornchipDAalsethqwerty52n2itivguyradarthekatdesignrviclauyyc
  • Reply 4 of 31
    Could the politicians listed be trying to cover for their own autocratic cheerleading in the U.S.? There do seem to be some human rights issues very close to home that they could be weighing in on too.
    delreyjonesleavingthebiggEcky-Thumpn2itivguyradarthekatmcdavelarryjwdesignrviclauyycbonobob
  • Reply 5 of 31
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,026member
    Like old saying about Rome; when in China, do as the Chinese do!!

    radarthekatmcdaveCiprol
  • Reply 6 of 31
    This is rich.  The US Government criticizes Apple for not doing more of the government's job?  It's not unlike the NY Times columnist recently criticizing Apple for not doing more to police Facebook and Google!  Is Apple held to a higher standard than the rest of the world?  You think?  (Maybe it's not a terrible thing.  Maybe at one level, much of the world is surprised when Apple is anything less than perfect and omnipotent.)
    radarthekat
  • Reply 7 of 31
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,504member
    wood1208 said:
    Like old saying about Rome; when in China, do as the Chinese do!!

    There was a similar old Vulcan saying: "Only Nixon could go to China."
    LordeHawk
  • Reply 8 of 31
    MisterKitMisterKit Posts: 292member
    Funny how Republicans are such human rights advocates when the humans are not minorities in the United States.
    leavingthebiggokssipinEcky-Thumpn2itivguyradarthekatmcdavelarryjwdavenviclauyycroundaboutnow
  • Reply 9 of 31
    jdgazjdgaz Posts: 358member
    Maybe we should think about cracking down on songs that talk about killing cops, or fooling around with whores.
    cornchipn2itivguyradarthekat
  • Reply 10 of 31
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,499member
    DAalseth said:
    Easy for therm to be critical. They aren't the ones responsible to shareholders. They aren't the ones trying to keep Apple profitable in China. They don't have the facts or access to the information, and threats, they got from the Chinese Government. It's easy to grandstand when it isn't your @$$ on the line.
    Agree with you there. Play in China and you play by China’s rules.
    radarthekatdesignr
  • Reply 11 of 31
    A bunch of hypocritical lying Republicans, pretending to care about the constitution. I assume that their main issue is they haven't received any lobbying money from Apple
    n2itivguyradarthekatdavenviclauyycavon b7designrSoli
  • Reply 12 of 31
    A bunch of hypocritical lying Republicans, pretending to care about the constitution. I assume that their main issue is they haven't received any lobbying money from Apple
    Lol.  OK.  But do the “lying Republicans” have a point here?
    edited April 12 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 13 of 31
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,001member
    A bunch of hypocritical lying Republicans, pretending to care about the constitution. I assume that their main issue is they haven't received any lobbying money from Apple
    A bunch of hypocritical lying Republicans, pretending to care about the constitution. I assume that their main issue is they haven't received any lobbying money from Apple
    Lol.  OK.  But do the “lying Republicans” have a point here?
    Let's not turn this into a Democrat vs Republican debate or this thread will be locked immediately. 
    delreyjonesdesignrLordeHawk
  • Reply 14 of 31
    B1951B1951 Posts: 3unconfirmed, member
    It should be noted that all those who attack Apple are Republicans - members of the least democratic party US ever saw. Party that prevents people from voting and gerrymandering in most Rep held states.
    davenDAalsethSolibonobob
  • Reply 15 of 31
    jdwjdw Posts: 801member
    It's absolutely fascinating to me how our own comments are at times censored (banned) from political articles on AppleInsider, and then at other times (like this article) allowed to freely reign.  Freedom is always a good thing, so we can all celebrate the freedom granted to us under this particular hot-button and highly political article (under which comments are often banned/censored).  But the algorithm which decides censorship of our comments is a curious thing.  Without a doubt it is a bio-algorithm deeply embedded in the human brain.  :-)  It could be randomly decided, or it could be decided based on what suits the owners of this site at any given time.  Fascinating nonetheless.  Regardless, the more freedom afforded to human beings the better, whether that be in China or in online forums.

    With that said, there is so much hypocrisy in government it is quite laughable.  Why people get so upset over these things when we should be slapping each other on the back in laughter is something I don't understand.  We get too serious at times, I guess.  Anyway, here we have on the one hand a set of "public servants" who decry Apple for not having supported the FBI and law enforcement (i.e., "for not having complied with US law," in their minds) by granting easy back door access to encrypted iPhones, and then these same people (mainly of the same political party -- a party I tend to vote for, mind you -- I laugh!) decry Apple for daring to "comply with the law" in China, which is all Apple is doing, in order to continue business there.  It's rather obvious Apple made the decision to pull a few songs to comply with that law because it doesn't make all of our devices insecure, whereas complying with the wishes of certain "leaders" in the USA in terms of an encryption back door would jeopardize the security of nearly every Apple device owner.

    Regardless of one's political party affiliation, one must admire Apple for making prudent decisions here when it comes to dealing with governments at home and abroad.  As end users, we can be thankful that Apple looks out for us.  As shareholders (myself a continuous one since 1999) we can be thankful Apple can make those pro-user decisions in a way that continues to benefit Apple's bottom line.  And as citizens of the USA, we can and should be proud that Apple is a shining example of American innovation, ingenuity, job-creation, and wealth creation (for investors and governments through taxes -- and yes Apple pays a lot of taxes).  All around, Apple is doing the right thing in spite of hypocritical criticism.  It's yet another reason I love Apple.  And yes, we love Apple even in spite of the horrid Butterfly keyboard, lack of USB-A, no MagSafe, and non-existent SD card slots on MacBooks they call "Pro."  At least we can dream about an insanely great 16" or 17" 2019 MBP that returns Pro to the MacBook.  Apple can change its mind -- sometimes for the good of The Rest of Us.  Let's hope so.  Until then, Let Freedom Reign!
    edited April 12 Soli
  • Reply 16 of 31
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,200member
    US Lawmakers should mind their own business and stop trying to be Global Lawmakers.
    And before people pipe up with China’s Human Rights abuses - people in glass churches shouldn’t throw stones; invading Islamic countries, killing hundreds of thousands of citizens to convert them to Democracies is far worse.

    Good on Apple for accepting other cultures (and stalling the global onslaught of Evil).
    viclauyycCiprol
  • Reply 17 of 31
    monstrositymonstrosity Posts: 2,224member
    Before worrying about China, what about Apple's censorship of the US and other western countries. Apple == Fascists 
  • Reply 18 of 31
    Pretty amazing to read this the day the US has Assange arrested in the UK for exposing US illegal atrocities. 

    http://www.publicintegrity.org/2014/06/20/14975/finding-truth-935-lies-about-war-iraq


    larryjwCiprol
  • Reply 19 of 31
    eightzero said:
    wood1208 said:
    Like old saying about Rome; when in China, do as the Chinese do!!

    There was a similar old Vulcan saying: "Only Nixon could go to China."
    You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon.
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 20 of 31
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,743member
    Lol at the butthurt hypocritical dems and liberals in the thread.  :#
    inside_linechemengin
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