Amnesty International accuses Apple of betraying Chinese iCloud users

“Amnesty International says Apple Inc is creating the Orwellian future it once envisioned by potentially opening up the data of Chinese iCloud users to Beijing’s scrutiny,” Laignee Barron reports for TIME Magazine. “Texts, photos, emails, contacts and any other information stored on Apple’s cloud service in China could now be easily accessed by the government, Amnesty claims, warning of possible arrests or imprisonment as rights to privacy and free speech are infringed upon.”

“To comply with new legislation in China, Apple, as of last month, began hosting Chinese users’ accounts on servers operated by a Chinese company, with the encryption keys managed by the local provider,” Barron reports. “The rights group says that previously, in order to view a Chinese account, Beijing would have had to go through the U.S. legal system. Now, communist officials will be able to go through China’s compliant courts.”

“The human rights group this week launched a social media campaign targeting Apple, just in time to coincide with Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook’s visit to Beijing,” Barron reports. “In a statement to Reuters, Apple said it had to comply with the new Chinese laws, and ultimately decided it was better to allow local hosting of the iCloud than to discontinue the service, which it argued could lead to an even greater erosion of users’ data privacy and security.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: You cannot erode users’ data privacy and security when they had none to begin with.

Why can’t Chinese citizens be trusted with freedom?

China’s internet censors ban use of the letter ‘N’ – February 28, 2018
Apple is under fire for moving iCloud data to China; Amnesty International blasts move – February 28, 2018
Apple moves to store iCloud keys in China, raising human rights fears – February 26, 2018
Apple’s China lesson: Think different, but not too different – February 26, 2018
Apple in talks for first order from a Chinese chipmaker – February 14, 2018
Apple utterly dominates the premium smartphone market in China with 85% share – February 7, 2018
Apple warns users who created Apple IDs overseas on dodging China’s new data law – January 12, 2018
How U.S. iCloud users can ensure their data isn’t migrated to state-owned servers in China – January 11, 2018
Apple sets date to turn over cloud operations to a state-owned data center in China – January 10, 2018
U.S. Senate Republican Marco Rubio hits Tim Cook for kowtowing to China – December 13, 2017
Apple CEO Cook kissed the ring in China because he had no choice – December 4, 2017
Apple CEO Cook in China: Internet must have security, humanity – December 4, 2017
U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and Patrick Leahy blast Apple CEO Tim Cook for removing VPN apps from App Store in China – October 20, 2017
Apple issues statement regarding removal of VPN apps from China App Store – July 31, 2017
Apple removes VPN apps from China App Store – July 29, 2017
Apple sets up China data center to meet new cybersecurity rules – July 12, 2017
Analyst: China iPhone sales are pivotal for Apple – June 26, 2017
In bid to improve censorship, China to summon Apple execs to discuss stricter App Store oversight – April 20, 2017
Apple CEO Tim Cook named recipient of Newseum’s 2017 Free Expression Award – February 2, 2017


  1. Amnesty International has a point but Apple is complying with the laws of a sovereign nation, if they want to do business there they have to follow the local laws.

    Amnesty International also comments on those who remove the freedom from others and torture so while the question of Why can’t Chinese citizens be trusted with freedom? is relevant as it has to do with how they treat their citizens, a similar question is why can’t people from other countries be trusted with freedom? In some cases it’s due to Apple’s home nation blatantly disregarding other sovereign states and going in and removing not only freedom from others but their lives as well. The Iraqi conflict has been going on for 15 years, and some estimate nearly a million people dead.

    From an Amnesty International site:

    -People have been held for years at the Guantánamo detention camp in Cuba without even being charged with a crime. Prisoners have been tortured and mistreated, and they are not given fair trials.
    – The U.S. has used lethal force, including through drone strikes, in several countries, leading to civilian deaths. Military operations have exposed civilians and U.S. service members to toxins that have led to devastating medical conditions.
    – Surveillance and targeting of Muslims – based on who they are, not what they’ve done – has fueled harassment, discrimination, and violence.
    – For years, the U.S. government allowed officials to torture people through horrific techniques that violate U.S. and international law. President Trump has vowed to expand the use of torture even further in the years ahead.

    Taken together, it’s clear that a group of the superpowers are not to be trusted when it comes to freedom.

    1. Right, but the hypocrisy is not with China, or Amnesty. They both have clear cut positions and act accordingly.

      Who is it that speaks one way, but acts another?

      No matter how justified they feel about what they do, you can’t have it both ways. Either adapt your speech “We suck less on human rights than most”, or don’t use it. Or walk away from the money. It’s their dilemma.

      1. If hypocrisy is your yardstick then most companies in most countries have to cease operations immediately. The US definitely speaks one way but acts another. The governments of most countries are doing questionable things all the time. China, the US, Russia, are some of the largest and worst but I’m not sure any country is exempt. Do we cease operating in all these countries or do we try to change them from within? Apple operating in China, in my opinion, is a far better option than Apple not operating in China. That’s how things change over time by engaging and economics is a huge lever to help change things.

        Your mindset of hypocrisy is political not practical. In the real world we are all involved in and to some degree supporting things we are against. I’m reminded of that book about the real cost of goods in the first world. Something about a hamburger costing far more than five dollars. Have you ever eaten a hamburger? Heck if you live in the first world you’re guilty as sin.

        If hypocrisy is your yardstick then you have to lump yourself in along with Apple, and me, and everyone else here.

        1. Mr. Hatchel, from a political point of view, I would expect “the leader of the free world”, whoever that may be, to behave consistently with a “free world”. As an American, we have voluntarily put ourselves in that position, and therefore I hold us to the standard we set. That is… if we are to have credibility.

          Perfection is not possible, but there should be a continual goal of improvement.

          Corporately…. I am a customer. I don’t give a crap about any company and their problems. If they lie to me, they are lying to ME, and I will call them out on it. You might ask, why do I single out Apple. It’s because I care deeply about technology and computers and it offends me when I’m served BS.

          I admit to compromising my values to a degree, we all do. That’s being human. A corporation is not human, and when they sell “holiness” to me they better be what they say they are.
          Apple should say… we care about our customers, we care about ourselves more. Or at least tone it down.

          Not that I expect them to tone it down, but the counter point must exist.

          1. “I would expect “the leader of the free world””

            Sigh. Only an American would assert that POTUS is the leader of the free world. America is increasingly irrelevant. You aren’t even the largest economy anymore. You are third after China and the EU.

            “Perfection is not possible, but there should be a continual goal of improvement.”

            This is what Apple is doing. They have clearly stated values and they work to engage and deliver those values. In cases like China it is very difficult but doing something is better than doing nothing. Engaging is better than leaving China. More good will be done long term if Apple stays in China.

            “You might ask, why do I single out Apple. It’s because I care deeply about technology and computers and it offends me when I’m served BS.”

            Spare me *your* BS. All the technology you use supports China as a manufacturer and pours profit into that country.

            “A corporation is not human, and when they sell “holiness” to me they better be what they say they are.
            Apple should say… we care about our customers, we care about ourselves more.”

            Apple says nothing remotely like this. In Apple’s case or any company that sells goods directly to a consumer caring about themselves means caring about the customers. If I sell you something that doesn’t work as advertised and I treat you horribly you won’t buy anything else from me. I would be very stupid to not take care of my customers. You happen to disagree with Apple but that is not the same thing as Apple not caring about its customers. You’re just not a good fit with Apple.

            1. You are being obtuse. I did not say, or even infer, POTUS, who after all is a transient. I meant the fact that the USA, as a nation, puts that ideological burden upon themselves as part of their role in the world.

              Strike one!

              In the case of China they are as useful as a castrated bull. None of their stated values are applicable. The only choice they have is to tone down their rhetoric uniformly, or better yet… leave China.

              Strike Two!

              Apple’s claim of love for their customers is legend. I will not historically rehash it all. The latest “we care about your privacy” BS is all I will mention.

              ” In Apple’s case or any company that sells goods directly to a consumer caring about themselves means caring about the customers.”

              Complete and utter BS, not even good BS. What happens when the company’s interests are in conflict with the customers, as is FUNDAMENTALLY the case. They are on opposite sides of a negotiation….

              I’m not a good fit with BS!

              Strike Three!

              Since you’re not an American, a strike is a “miss” in baseball. Not a good thing. You get three per turn, before you’re out. You’re out! 🙂

            2. Current GDP by nation (2016, in millions):
              1. The United States: 18,624,475.00
              2. Communist China: 11,199,145.16

              wrong again, Benghazi Breath.

          2. “Since you’re not an American, a strike is a “miss” in baseball. Not a good thing. You get three per turn, before you’re out. You’re out!”

            You didn’t refute anything I said. You just rambled aimlessly about striking out and deflected as you do. I can’t waste time on you. Experience has taught me that.

          3. “You are being obtuse. I did not say, or even infer, POTUS, who after all is a transient.”

            By the way, POTUS is the office not the person. It is not transient. Strike for you I guess. Sigh.

      2. Good points there applecynic. I loosely see countries following certain patterns.

        – Those that don’t provide freedom for their citizens and take away freedom from those in other nations.

        – Those that don’t provide freedom for their citizens but respect the sovereignty of other countries.

        – Those that provide freedom for their citizens but don’t respect the sovereignty of other countries.

        – Those that provide freedom for their citizens and respect the sovereignty of other countries.

        This last group tends to be the one I respect the most and I refer to the Global Peace Index to get an idea of what those countries are. Iceland, New Zealand, Portugal, Austria, and Denmark top that list in my opinion. Those are the ones to look at and emulate.

        1. Philosophically, I agree with you 100%. Just as philosophically, a large nation often has a higher moral burden than smaller nations, such as the ones you mention.

          We all have to deal with “damned if we do”, what’s much harder, especially for large nations, is the “damned if we don’t”. What we can do, is respect all nation’s sovereignty first, above all. That’s not what the strong nations have been doing, but should.

          Would the US have had a SE Asia communism problem 50+ years ago if they dropped an equivalent weight of bread, clothes, medicine and books as they did bombs? Would that have had a fractional monetary cost and a moral benefit? Follow the money…

          1. Good, nice to know we have some common ground.

            I hope you don’t mind but I’d like to dance around with what you said about “large nation often has a higher moral burden than small nations.” from a couple of different aspects.

            First I’ll look at the size of comparable countries and see where they fit on the Global Peace Index, out of 163 countries:

            Russia (151) Canada (8) United States (114) China (116) Brazil (108)

            Now the majority of the top 5 are well into the lower half, and your country is on par with China and Brazil with Russia at the bottom of the barrel. There is one glaring exception, in the top 10 list on top of that, but we won’t talk about that dead beat country.

            Next I’ll look at moral burdens potentials that are smaller nations. What we refer to as superpowers today stems from the classic empires, the British, Roman and Greek empires as examples. These were small countries that controlled vast amounts of territories. This leads me to believe that there may be other parameters other than size, in fact history, culture, ancestry that play pivotal roles. Coupled with size however is population density and that I believe has a great influence of the dynamics. That to me is the great danger of our times. The refugees have nowhere to go, sorry the planet is full the super powers will have to go off, or we learn as a species to regulate our population.

            Thanks, it’s nice to hear someone acknowledge that principle of respecting another nation’s sovereignty first. That of course with the realization that the super powers are at dynamic play right now. It’s chaos and within chaos there will be opportunity.

            Your money comment is spot on. I took it upon myself one day to check out the wars your country has had. What a list, like something around 85% of your history has been at war, and you can make a lot of bucks off of that, especially if you have a few theaters to demonstrate your wares and so goes the super powers at play show, all stations all the time.

            So that’s about it, just some musing aloud.

    2. “Amnesty International has a point but Apple is complying with the laws of a sovereign nation, if they want to do business there they have to follow the local laws.”

      a communist nation is not the same as a “sovereign nation” an your insult to free people of the world is noted also noted is your broad brush defense of sjw hypocrite cook final note is you said amnesty has a point, but you do not define the point because the rest of your post favors Apple doing business in a country where people are not free and human rights does not exist now tell us again how horrible the u.s. is and how great the “sovereign” (joke) china nation is you are not only seriously confused you are dead wrong

      1. Wikipedia thinks so: and while certainly not an academic reference it’s mainstream enough for my purposes but hey if you disagree then bring a reference. I’m using the term sovereign state loosely here. If you don’t agree with my usage of the term bring a reference. I’d be happy to adjust the comment to something like both Apple’s home nation and China are recognized countries by the UN.

        The point is that Amnesty International correctly points out is in the blurb: ” Apple Inc is creating the Orwellian future it once envisioned by potentially opening up the data of Chinese iCloud users to Beijing’s scrutiny”. Apple is doing business in a country as you point out “where people are not free and human rights does not exist”.

        I’m not saying that either China nor Apple’s home nation are great nations with respect to human rights, both are on the lower end of the Global Peace Index and both are pretty horrible when it comes to human rights according to Amnesty International.

        1. “I’m not saying that either China nor Apple’s home nation are great nations with respect to human rights”

          what u r not saying is the problem the liberal index you are betting the farm on means nothing next to common sense u.s. and china are night and day apart with respect to human rights you should be ashamed of yourself for your daily denigrating of the most wide open country in the world with the most respect for human rights and immigration That is your problem, not the u.s. again, you are dead wrong and spare us the semantic definition games

          1. What liberal index? You talking about the Global Peace Index? I never realized that peace was a political party.

            I’ll agree that China and Apple’s home nation are night and day with respect to human rights. The Chinese don’t respect human rights in their country, Apple’s home nation doesn’t respect human rights of other nations. I don’t see much shame in the genocidal numbers of murders that Apple’s home nation has inflicted upon Iraq nor the torture at the Guantanamo on the Bay Resort. Of course one has to have a touch of morals to feel shame.

            I’ll keep doing what I’m doing as long as as that country continues to betray humanity with their acts against humanity.

            Torture is for terrorists. Apple’s home nation fits the bill.

            1. “I never realized that peace was a political party.”

              so why are you saying and making up what does not exist? u have no moral authority u have no common sense all you have is HATE for the greatest liberating country around the world and the most generous when it comes to NATO and the United Nations funding and the greatest human rights record u are always WRONG about the u.s. and all your bs at the end of the day counts for nothing libtard the u.s. does not torture the u.s. liberates the enslaved nations of the world your support for communist China is as wrong as your diatribe against the greatest country in history

  2. forget China…

    This Summer! Caesar’s Palace in Vegas!

    “The Golden Fox vs The Baltimore Fondler”

    12 round death match!

    let’s get ready to ruuuuuuuuummmmm-ble!

    (available on pay-per-view)

  3. Without compromise, most diads could not remain together, most couples would devorce, most nations would be at war, most corporations would fold. But, yes, I am troubled by Apple colluding with Commie China to hand over customer data for money.

  4. Who CARES!

    This is donald trump = liar ‘s america and Cook is his boy.

    Screw freedom, screw democracy, to hell with freedom of expression, DAMn freedom of the press, you know that thing the founding idiots included in the US Constitution, trump=lair says to hell with all that. He wants to be president for life…

    Too many of these republicans used the same techniques and businesses trump used. no way are they going to find that ass guilty of anything

    Trump = liar, , must have done something gay. We know he was with the porn star, and playboy bunny, so his fans say they don’t care. so why is he fighting so hard to silence her. HE HAD GAY SEX AND THAT IS WHAT HE WANTS PEOPLE NOT TO KNOW. He should come out of that closet .

      1. Come on. You know it has to be something like this. Otherwise what’s the big deal. You love him no matter how many lies he tells. You love him no matter the cost of everything you will buy will have a trump=liar tax on it.

        But we are starting to find out these other republicans use the same firm, the same benefit from the russians, You know good and well they are never going to dig into the truth of this. I could have some respect for them as americans if they did not know and once finding out, resign from their office. But, But I think they knew. And, I know they won’t correct this by resigning, they hate America too much.

      2. Name calling Russian. Don’t worry about it when this jackass is out of the presidency we’ll handle that vail threat where you clowns nuke Florida in your little video. Mutual destruction, fine. The real Americans are not scared of you. We believe in living for our values but we’re not for one minute scared to fight in defense of them. Not like that rich boy, scared of you, that’s in the White House now.

    1. You mean the chump had sex with a couple of gay lesbian women at once? How bisexual.
      At least it’s a relief to know that Putin’s pooch wasn’t involved.

      1. Congrats Road Warrior! You just took the mantle of potty mouth and sexually obsessed of private people lives that is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS from your buddy Citizen X. That said, Libtards know NO BOUNDS so not really a surprise …

  5. I don’t quite get this.

    from what I understand:

    1) In USA, Europe Apple releases iCloud data when courts require it. (Internet search it if you don’t believe me)
    Same as in China. Whether the courts are ‘more compliant’ in China as Amnesty claims has nothing to do with Apple, it’s a value judgement and Apple is not a government or If Homeland USA wants iCloud data with a court order I think Apple is going to be really ‘compliant’ too .

    2) Why would a country like China want it’s citizens data to be kept overseas? Would Americans be happy if Apple moved all it’s iCloud Data to China or Russia for cheaper server rates for example? Surely the president, government would nix that idea?
    If companies already keep your data like bank data overseas you should be worried. What if there was rift like a war with that country?

    I’ve worked in Asia for years, just came back from vacation in Singapore (where it’s mostly Chinese) , my brother was an IT manager in Shanghai etc. Let me you even if most Chinese want more ‘freedom’ they are as patriotic as any American, most of them want their data in China. The reason iPhone sales although still good has been slightly soft recently is due to the ‘trade war’ starting up between USA and China (SOME Chinese citizens are pissed off USA products just like during the Iraq war USA citizens boycotted French stuff ).

    3) Apple follows laws where it does business. Laws vary so much it is mind boggling even between Western countries like Europe and USA or even with Canada.

    So actually boiling it down what Amnesty is saying is that Apple should disobey the law and thus be CLOSED DOWN. . Like remove one quarter of it’s profits and virtually all it’s manufacturing. Why doesn’t Amnesty tell that to the thousands of other businesses that do businesses in China, all of whom have to follow chinese laws that are different than their own countries in Europe and elsewhere.

    Amnesty like GreenPeace and China Labour Watch etc always pick on Apple and not the others to GET PUBLICITY as they survive on donations.

    1. Everything you said is true. What is also true is that if Congress passes legislation for a “back door” on mobile phones, Apple will comply regardless of what they say.

      It the mobile version of Trump’s “I’d like to think I would run into that school, unarmed, if there was a shooting”. In other words, BS.

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