Apple has 'moral obligation' to promote free expression in China, U.S. Senator says

Posted:
in General Discussion edited December 2017
Commenting on Apple CEO Tim Cook's recent appearance at the World Internet Conference in China, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said the tech giant has a "moral obligation" to push back against the Asian nation's surveillance and censorship policies.




Speaking to CNBC, Leahy said Apple and other tech companies that promote free expression in the U.S. should do the same in countries like China, which have decidedly conservative views on free speech.

"American tech companies have become leading champions of free expression. But that commitment should not end at our borders," Leahy said. "Global leaders in innovation, like Apple, have both an opportunity and a moral obligation to promote free expression and other basic human rights in countries that routinely deny these rights."

In October, Leahy and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) penned a letter to Cook asking for clarification on Apple's decision to remove certain VPN apps from the iOS App Store in China. The lawmakers were concerned that Apple was complicit in assisting China's censorship apparatus.

In a response from Cynthia Hogan (PDF download), Apple VP for Public Policy, the company reiterated its stance that the VPN app takedown was in adherence with Chinese regulations. Indeed, Cook himself addressed the issue in August, saying Apple "would obviously rather not remove the apps, but like we do in other countries we follow the law wherever we do business."

Apple's letter to Leahy and Cruz also answered a series of questions relating to Apple's dealings in China, particularly as they apply to policymaking bodies. The senators specifically asked Cook to provide statements Apple issued promoting free speech in China or condemning the Chinese government's censorship and surveillance laws.

In regard to both privacy rights and freedom of expression, two tenets Apple promotes as a corporation, the company believes its presence throughout the world is the "most effective way we can make a difference," according to Hogan.

"We believe our actions are our most powerful statement," the letter reads.

The senators in their letter to Cook also addressed the World Internet Conference, asking whether Apple supports the gathering denounced by free speech activists. Apple said it does not sponsor the event, but notes employees including Cook have and will continue to participate in the event. Mirroring the answer above, Apple said engagement is the "surest way" to effect change.

Cook spoke at the conference this week, addressing a range of topics including App Store revenues and artificial intelligence.

"Apple is clearly a force for good in China, but I also believe it and other tech companies must continue to push back on Chinese suppression of free expression," Leahy said.
«134

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 71
    Patrick Leahy? He’s still alive!?
    bshank
  • Reply 2 of 71
    Throughout history, the greatest threat to authoritarian regimes is a strong and growing middle-class. China's GDP has been growing at about 10% per year for the last 30 years (less recently). Nevertheless, it has been able to lift half its population out of poverty. 

    A strong and growing middle-class is going to do more to that end than a couple of senators from America bloviating about moral obligations and what Apple should or should not do! 

    Best.
    bshankSolithtSpamSandwichStrangeDays[Deleted User]jbdragonmknelsonjony0jSnively
  • Reply 3 of 71
    Tim is at the apex of hypocritical CEOs. He's a complete pushover when it comes to China, and will cut every corner regarding privacy when it comes to making a buck there. In the U.S. however, he'll fight tooth and nail when it comes to helping the feds in unlock a terrorist phone. 
  • Reply 4 of 71
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,521member
    U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy has moral obligation to take his free expression issue to Chinese directly. Politicians talk to much jibber-jabber and work little. Wish they learn from Chinese. For outsiders, doing business in China as is difficult and don't make it more.
    christopher126SpamSandwichStrangeDays[Deleted User]mike1jbdragonjony0toddzrx
  • Reply 5 of 71
    securtis said:
    Tim is at the apex of hypocritical CEOs. He's a complete pushover when it comes to China, and will cut every corner regarding privacy when it comes to making a buck there. In the U.S. however, he'll fight tooth and nail when it comes to helping the feds in unlock a terrorist phone. 
    Apple is a business and China is a much bigger market than the US. As a stock holder I EXPECT him to get a hold of the Chinese AND Indian markets. Also, if this senator is so worried then perhaps he should present a bill to Congress and halt all imports from China! 
    edited December 2017 Rayz2016christopher126stompymwhiteStrangeDayscharlesgresanantksundarammike1jony0
  • Reply 6 of 71
    bshankbshank Posts: 139member
    securtis said:
    Tim is at the apex of hypocritical CEOs. He's a complete pushover when it comes to China, and will cut every corner regarding privacy when it comes to making a buck there. In the U.S. however, he'll fight tooth and nail when it comes to helping the feds in unlock a terrorist phone. 
    China is a sovereign country. Apple does business there. Apple’s policy is compliance wherever it does business. They make a lot of money that way and it benefits our economy. Don’t like that Apple will sell Macs and iPhones to the Chinese? Then don’t buy Apple. It’s really that easy bro. You’re not going to start some sort of anti-Apple revolution here.
    edited December 2017 StrangeDaysanantksundaramtdknoxjony0
  • Reply 7 of 71
    With everthing going on recently..and looking back at history, the US shouldn’t be lecturing about morality.
    christopher126singularity[Deleted User]bshankanantksundaramGeorgeBMacasdasdtdknoxmknelsonjony0
  • Reply 8 of 71
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,602member
    Let me get this right, we have elected members of the US Senate who want a publicly held technology corporation that makes electronic gadgets and software to do the job that the US government, and more specifically, the US State Department is responsible for? As in that moribund government agency that's been systematically neutered by the Moron in Chief. Calling this a lame move by totally inept politicians would be giving them credit that they don't deserve. This is a perversion of statesmanship and a dereliction of responsibility by public servants. What's next, is Congress going to ask the Boy Scouts of America to think about conducting final mop-up operations in Afghanistan. Time to drain the Clown Show.
     
    StrangeDaysapple jockeylarryabshankanantksundaramGeorgeBMactdknoxjony0badmonk
  • Reply 9 of 71
    tzm41tzm41 Posts: 69member
    Now if I get his words straight he wants a US business making electronics to fiddle with politics of China. Wonder why he's mind is set up this way?
    StrangeDays[Deleted User]bshankanantksundaram
  • Reply 10 of 71
    ben20ben20 Posts: 119member
    With everthing going on recently..and looking back at history, the US shouldn’t be lecturing about morality.
    Without the US we still would have a divided Germany. Senator Patrick Leahy has a point, we do of course know that a Apple Fanboy has a hard time to understand anything different from their agenda, it is actually very comical.
    edited December 2017
  • Reply 11 of 71
    It is only logical that Apple as company respects the laws of the country they are present. Primarily it is the task of politicians to talk to political representative of some country and try to convince them to change their laws. First than can do business do something...

    it’s like parents blaming the teacher that he didn’t tought the kid how to blow up its nose...

    or does he tell with this - don’t respect the laws and do what you please?
    edited December 2017 StrangeDaysdewme
  • Reply 12 of 71
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 1,605member
    A US Senator talking about moral obligations?
    I just don't quite know how to react to that.
    [Deleted User]anantksundaram
  • Reply 13 of 71
    metrixmetrix Posts: 220member
    securtis said:
    Tim is at the apex of hypocritical CEOs. He's a complete pushover when it comes to China, and will cut every corner regarding privacy when it comes to making a buck there. In the U.S. however, he'll fight tooth and nail when it comes to helping the feds in unlock a terrorist phone. 
    When you look at terrorist attacks on the US it is so small compared to countless other ways people are killed why on earth would you risk opening every FBI, CIA, NSA, ..., personal communication that contains TOP Secret information to be leaked out to the world where terrorists abroad will do far more damage by killing American servicemen and women. The proof is here today! If Amazon had similar security maybe sensitive NSA and Army information would not be all over the web. Lets face it, its my experience that if you are 50 or over you are probably technology challenged, not everyone. If you think Hillary is the only one to leak sensitive information on an unsecured phone you are blind. I am willing to bet most of our older Senators don't really know what wifi is.
    edited December 2017 cgWerksbshank
  • Reply 14 of 71
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 1,605member

    Throughout history, the greatest threat to authoritarian regimes is a strong and growing middle-class. China's GDP has been growing at about 10% per year for the last 30 years (less recently). Nevertheless, it has been able to lift half its population out of poverty. 

    A strong and growing middle-class is going to do more to that end than a couple of senators from America bloviating about moral obligations and what Apple should or should not do! 
    That depends... there are many forces at play to keep down the middle class from forming in other countries. Imagine, for example, what a huge USA economics collapse in the next decade would do to China. Or, imagine if the USA succeeds in blocking China's trade expansion to Europe and other non-USA locations. Or, imagine if the AGW hoopla gets loud and strong enough to keep the 3rd world in their place.

    securtis said:
    Tim is at the apex of hypocritical CEOs. He's a complete pushover when it comes to China, and will cut every corner regarding privacy when it comes to making a buck there. In the U.S. however, he'll fight tooth and nail when it comes to helping the feds in unlock a terrorist phone. 
    Well, and even fund organizations trying to shut-down free-speech in the USA.

    porg1969 said:
    You’re an idiot. Apple is a business and China is a much bigger market than the US. As a stock holder I EXPECT him to get a hold of the Chinese AND Indian markets. 
    Do what ever it takes to make a buck, so you can make a buck? Nice.

    bshank said:
    China is a sovereign country. Apple does business there. Apple’s policy is compliance wherever it does business.
    While at the same time taking 'moral' stands in the USA. I think we get this... we're just pointing out the hypocrisy.

    dewme said:
    ... job that the US government, and more specifically, the US State Department is responsible for? As in that moribund government agency that's been systematically neutered by the Moron in Chief.
    I'm not sure exactly what you're referring to. While I have my dislike of Trump for many reasons, I hope he does a heck of a lot more neutering of the State Dept! You know all those Syrian refugees? US State Dept work there. The other 6 countries we've destabilized or are going to in the ME? Yep, those folks (and Congress people). Millions of lives destroyed... thanks, USA. At least Trump ordered the CIA units home who were propping up the terrorists.

    riverko said:
    It is only logical that Apple as company respects the laws of the country they are present.
    So, then why aren't they in North Korea? Or, I wonder if they'd help Saudi Arabia with their 'toss the LGBT person off the roof' app? I'm not sure 'logical' would be my term of choice...
  • Reply 15 of 71
    securtis said:
    Tim is at the apex of hypocritical CEOs. He's a complete pushover when it comes to China, and will cut every corner regarding privacy when it comes to making a buck there. In the U.S. however, he'll fight tooth and nail when it comes to helping the feds in unlock a terrorist phone. 
    Hater nonsense. They offered to help with what they could, such as decrypting his icloud backups, but that excludes developing a new backdoor into iOS, as that would be stupid. Please see the recent story about how the CIA itself got hacked and their tools released to the public. Oops. 

    Next, Apple is a US corporate citizen and has much more influence here, in a democracy, than abroad in totalitarian China. 
    edited December 2017 cgWerksbshankanantksundaramjony0
  • Reply 16 of 71
    cgWerks said:

    securtis said:
    Tim is at the apex of hypocritical CEOs. He's a complete pushover when it comes to China, and will cut every corner regarding privacy when it comes to making a buck there. In the U.S. however, he'll fight tooth and nail when it comes to helping the feds in unlock a terrorist phone. 
    Well, and even fund organizations trying to shut-down free-speech in the USA.
    bshank said:
    China is a sovereign country. Apple does business there. Apple’s policy is compliance wherever it does business.
    While at the same time taking 'moral' stands in the USA. I think we get this... we're just pointing out the hypocrisy.
    Jesus christ, which part of “Apple is a US company and not a Chinese one” is so hard for you to understand? The US part, or the not-Chinese part?

    And please, do tell us how Cook is funding organizations trying to shut down free speech. This ought to be good...
    edited December 2017 macxpressjony0
  • Reply 17 of 71
    Funny how these lifer politicians acted like they owned Apple....take care of passing Trumps agenda and we will be richer and respected nation ahain, Moral my buttocks....
  • Reply 18 of 71
    brakkenbrakken Posts: 674member
    Latest news to hand: American politician accused of studying politics at university and links to social welfare organisations suspected! Details at 11!  

    What’s next - a US president who protects the nation against the interests of financial institutions?
  • Reply 19 of 71
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 1,605member
    StrangeDays said:
    Jesus christ, which part of “Apple is a US company and not a Chinese one” is so hard for you to understand? The US part, or the not-Chinese part?

    And please, do tell us how Cook is funding organizations trying to shut down free speech. This ought to be good...
    I thought a few weeks back everyone was arguing that they were an international company. But, my point was that morality doesn't change when you change location between the USA and China. It's irrelevant what their laws are... if Apple is standing on a moral claim in the USA, it's hypocritical not to take the same stand anywhere else. If they are simply rule-following in either place, then they don't have grounds to make a fuss about laws they don't agree with.

    Cook donated millions to SPLC. SPLC has put a bunch of wrong-think organizations and individuals on their 'hate group' list, not only attempting to censor them, but impacting their livelihoods and even endangering their lives. (Essentially, Cook is funding a USA-based terrorist organization and hate-group.)

    brakken said:
    What’s next - a US president who protects the nation against the interests of financial institutions?
    If you listen closely to speeches... you'll catch that most politicians don't even know their sworn oath is to defend the Constitution... they think it is to protect the country. (Which boils down to... if we gotta break the Constitution to protect the country, so be it... :( )
    edited December 2017 [Deleted User]mobird
  • Reply 20 of 71
    mike54mike54 Posts: 246member
    Are you talking about free expression, where you, mister senator, heavily restricted in your own country, RT and Sputnik? And don't you have a moral obligation to reduce your own nation's surveillance and censorship policies and to reduce the number of military and spy bases around the world?
    Mister senator, clean up your own dirty backyard first before mouthing off at other countries.
    cgWerks
This discussion has been closed.