NYT: Apple Kowtows to China in the Name of Profit

Apple CEO Tim Cook waves as he arrives for the Economic Summit held for the China Development Forum in Beijing on March 23, 2019. (Photo by Ng Han Guan / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read NG HAN GUAN/AFP via Getty Images)
NG HAN GUAN/AFP via Getty Images

In a recent article, the New York Times outlines the compromises that tech giant Apple has made in China to gain access to the booming market, including storing data on state-owned servers and censoring apps that the Chinese government takes issues with.

In an article titled “Censorship, Surveillance and Profits: A Hard Bargain for Apple in China,” the New York Times outlines the various concessions Apple has chosen to make to the Chinese government in exchange for being allowed to operate in the communist country.

Apple has long been an advocate for user privacy, making it a key element of the company’s philosophy. But, according to the Times, Apple seems quite happy to leave its user’s personal data easily accessible by the Chinese government.

The Times reports:

Inside, Apple was preparing to store the personal data of its Chinese customers on computer servers run by a state-owned Chinese firm.

Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, has said the data is safe. But at the data center in Guiyang, which Apple hoped would be completed by next month, and another in the Inner Mongolia region, Apple has largely ceded control to the Chinese government.

Chinese state employees physically manage the computers. Apple abandoned the encryption technology it used elsewhere after China would not allow it. And the digital keys that unlock information on those computers are stored in the data centers they’re meant to secure.

The Times also alleges that while U.S. regulations prohibit Apple from handing data over to Chinese authorities, storing user data on local Chinese storage creates a loophole allowing it. A Chinese firm named Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD), is actually the legal owner of Apple iCloud customer data in China. Due to this, Chinese authorities can demand access to data from GCBD rather than Apple.

Since 2017, around 55,000 apps have been removed from the Apple App Store in China, according to data provided by Sensor Tower. Some of the apps included foreign news outlets, encrypted messaging apps, gay dating services, and VPNs allowing users to bypass China’s strict internet restrictions.

Apple said it approved 91 percent of takedown requests, or around 1,217 apps, from the Chinese government in a two-year period ending in June 2020. In a statement to the NYT, Apple sad: “We have never compromised the security of our users or their data in China or anywhere we operate.”

Apple also noted that it only removes apps to comply with Chinese regulations, stating: “These decisions are not always easy, and we may not agree with the laws that shape them, but our priority remains creating the best user experience without violating the rules we are obligated to follow.”

Read more at the New York Times here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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