Apple decision to skip congressional hearing on China draws swift rebuke

Posted:
in General Discussion edited November 2019
Apple and Chinese app TikTok failed to send representatives to a U.S. congressional hearing convened to delve into Chinese influence on the wider tech industry and consumer data, a move that drew swift condemnation from senators eager to draw ties between large firms and the Asian nation.

Congressional Hearing
Empty seat reserved for Apple at Tuesday's congressional hearing on China. | Source: Cristiano Lima


Both companies were conspicuously absent from the hearing called by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a staunch critic of Big Tech who has in the past sounded the alarm over Chinese interference in the sector, reports The Washington Post.

According to Politico's Cristiano Lima, Apple and TikTok were given the "empty seat treatment" at today's hearing. A witness table was set up with placards for Apple and TikTok fronting a pair of ceremoniously empty chairs. The companies flanked Kara Frederick, associate fellow for the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, and Heritage Foundation tech policy chief Klon Kitchen, who did appear at the hearing to offer testimony on China's controversial cyber laws. An executive from Microsoft was also present.

"I've invited @Apple and @tiktok_us to testify on Tuesday about their business in & with China and the risks to American consumers. So far, they are both refusing. Something to hide?" Hawley wrote in a tweet on Sunday.

Though Apple was not present, Hawley took issue with the company's ties to China, which he believes are "risking compromise with authoritarianism." Specifically, the senator targeted Apple's decision to migrate iCloud data of Chinese citizens to servers operated in China.

Apple maintains the mass transfer and subsequent housing of user data on Chinese soil is a requirement for operating iCloud and other cloud services in the country, but Hawley said the arrangement could undermine user security, according to the report. Hawley's concerns mirror those of privacy advocates who voiced opposition to Apple's strategy in 2018.

For its part, Apple said it advocated against iCloud being subject to these laws," but was "ultimately unsuccessful."

"We're accustomed in hearings like this one to hearing about Apple as a good corporate citizen," Hawley said on Tuesday. "But Apple's business model and business practices are increasingly entangled with China, a fact they would rather we think not too much about."

Apple's appeasement of Beijing, which often runs in contrast with its well-groomed image as a bastion of human rights, data privacy and free speech, has been a point of contention for years. The company walks a tightrope between forwarding its social agendas and not running afoul of Chinese state policy.

Last month, Apple pulled the controversial HKMaps app from the Chinese App Store at the behest of China government demands, later saying the title was in violation of Hong Kong law. Critics, however, noted the title's core functionality did not contravene local regulations, nor did it break rules laid out in Apple's own App Store Guidelines.

The company also removed the Quartz news app from the App Store after the publication provided extensive coverage of the Hong Kong protests.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    I am for a thorough investigation of ties — especially any less-than-savory ties — between US tech and China, but this sounds like a grandstanding exercise and a fishing expedition.

    Why was Apple the only US tech company called? Moreover, to put Apple on the same platform as TikTok, a silly, 13-year olds’ social-site-du-jour is insulting. Sounds to me like the Congressional equivalent of a cheap click-bait.
    edited November 2019 JFC_PAmagman1979Anilu_777Solihmurchisonwatto_cobramontrosemacsDan_DilgerrazorpitGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 2 of 28
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 1,274member
    Interesting enough, we block some Chinese tech companies from doing business with US companies including Google and their Android, but we have an issue with China requiring iCloud data from their citizens be on servers in their country. I wonder if these politicians would be comfortable with our national security and police agencies had to apply for warrants in the Chinese court system to investigate cases?
    Anilu_777lolliverphilboogieavon b7watto_cobraGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 3 of 28
    Bunch of blow hards...

    Did they ever get to explaining how TikTok is a “national security” issue?  Ridiculous...

    Are we not going to allow any foreign firms be successful in America?

    I have no problem with Apple blowing them off.  This isn’t a pol party thing... it’s a “don’t you have anything better to do thing”.



    Anilu_777hmurchisonwatto_cobrauraharaGeorgeBMacsarthos
  • Reply 4 of 28
    The other people who showed up are truly hacks. How about they invite IBM, Microsoft ETC, ETC. How about all the offshoring of software development to India? 

    I hate to say it, but in this case it smells like a waste of time. I'm not sure this Senator even knows what the internet is. He should stick with getting the clock changed on his microwave with the help of his kids.
    edited November 2019 Anilu_777roundaboutnowmubailimwhitelolliverwatto_cobrarazorpitsarthos
  • Reply 5 of 28
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 2,351member
    The other people who showed up are truly hacks. How about they invite IBM, Microsoft ETC, ETC. How about all the offshoring of software development to India? 
    Waiting for another 737 Max tragedy to happen?
    razorpit
  • Reply 6 of 28
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,764member
    Can the Imperial Senate be any more blatant?  Well done to both companies for not tolerating something far worse than authoritarianism.
    With political options exhausted will they resort to some good ole ‘shock & awe’?
    lolliverwatto_cobraGeorgeBMacsarthos
  • Reply 7 of 28
    The big question is why weren’t other tech companies asked to appear? Without them it’s just grandstanding. 
    watto_cobrarazorpitsarthos
  • Reply 8 of 28
    CNAS seems a little sketchy too. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 28
    ... hopefully there will be a reasonable explanation...
    edited November 2019
  • Reply 10 of 28
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,048member
    "I've invited @Apple and @tiktok_us to testify on Tuesday about their business in & with China and the risks to American consumers. So far, they are both refusing. Something to hide?*" Hawley wrote in a tweet on Sunday.

    So there was no subpoena, no command performance, no 'probable cause', no reason to attend a dog and pony show, so Apple didn't.

    Tim obviously is not going to engage in *cheap shot, testy diatribe. Still, he should have tweeted 'Say hey, Josh, thanks for the invite but I'm not one for fishing.'

    Get it right– this weak effort doesn't even come close to grandstanding. And the empty chair theatrics undermines the credibility of even that weak-ass display. Dog and pony.

    mubaililolliverwatto_cobrarazorpitGeorgeBMacStrangeDayssarthos
  • Reply 11 of 28
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,735member
    Apple had nothing to prove, and lots to lose by showing up. The Senator clearly had his mind made up and was itching to make Apple look bad. But if Apple said anything to defend themselves it would look worse. And if they said what they really think of China, then China would land on them with both feet. Only a fool enters a fight where the options are bad and worse.

    But we're entering an election year. Things are going to get stupider and stupider.
    edited November 2019 mubailimwhitelolliverwatto_cobrarazorpitsarthos
  • Reply 12 of 28
    ivanhivanh Posts: 591member
    Good job, Hawley. You smell the rat.
  • Reply 13 of 28
    I’m from Missouri and I can assure you that Josh Holly is not one of the sharpest tools in the shed so to speak. LOL
    I hate to push back against anything but this phobia of China and phobia of big tech companies and out right attacks on Apple are just ridiculous, miss guided, hurtful, and not in their own best interests. 
    I would love to work for Apple. I would rather move to China then back to Missouri for sure.
    I have nothing but respect for both sides but there’s far much more understanding that needs to occur.
    watto_cobradewmesarthos
  • Reply 14 of 28
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    The antigovernment commentary continues in AI comments...
  • Reply 15 of 28
    ivanh said:
    Good job, Hawley. You smell the rat.

    Da comrade Ivan.

    /s
    watto_cobraGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 16 of 28
    IreneWIreneW Posts: 245member
    Why was Apple the only US tech company called?.
    Microsoft was there.
    gatorguy
  • Reply 17 of 28
    IreneWIreneW Posts: 245member
    Anilu_777 said:
    The big question is why weren’t other tech companies asked to appear? Without them it’s just grandstanding. 
    Like Microsoft? They were there.
    dysamoria
  • Reply 18 of 28
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,185member
    Bunch of blow hards...

    Did they ever get to explaining how TikTok is a “national security” issue?  

    That app has been in the news quite a bit lately with a few concerns being voiced over "state-sponsored spying" and Chinese government data-collection. 
    edited November 2019 razorpitdysamoria
  • Reply 19 of 28
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,309member
    McCartheism arises from the grave of history!
    Weak and corrupt politicians love to have a bogeyman to direct attention away from themselves.

    In the case of China, they have been attempting to label it as a security risk for over a year but have yet to supply an ounce of evidence to support the claim.  Instead, their claims have been consistently and thoroughly debunked.  That is why they have backed off of the imminent threat model and switched instead to claiming that "They might do something in the future --- because they're communists!" which is why most countries around the world have rejected the claims and are reinforcing their ties with the 2nd largest economy in the world.

    In this case, the Heritage Foundation is using a shill to resurrect a favorite tactic of Eugene McCarthy to spread dirt and fear.

    Apple was wise to side step this one!
  • Reply 20 of 28
    I am for a thorough investigation of ties — especially any less-than-savory ties — between US tech and China, but this sounds like a grandstanding exercise and a fishing expedition.

    Why was Apple the only US tech company called? Moreover, to put Apple on the same platform as TikTok, a silly, 13-year olds’ social-site-du-jour is insulting. Sounds to me like the Congressional equivalent of a cheap click-bait.
    I daresay this rep probably called on these two companies because his kid(s) use both. Yes, these representatives really can be that craven and shallow.
    sarthos
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