U.S. senator blasts Apple for ‘risking compromise to authoritarianism’ in China

A key U.S. senator warned that Apple and the Chinese-owned music-video app TikTok are threats to international data security due to their business ties to China.

Ben Brody and Daniel Stoller for Bloomberg News:

“With Apple and TikTok, we see two sides of the same coin when it comes to data security: the danger of Chinese tech platforms’ entry into the U.S. market, and the danger of American tech companies’ operations in China,” Missouri lawmaker Josh Hawley told a hearing he led on big data and China Tuesday.

U.S. lawmakers called for a national security review of TikTok last month. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas wrote to U.S. Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire Oct. 23, referring to TikTok as a “potential counterintelligence threat we cannot ignore.”

“A company compromised by the Chinese Communist Party knows where your children are, knows what they look like, what their voices sound like, what they’re watching and what they share with each other,” Hawley said during the hearing. “All it takes is one knock on the door of their parent company, based in China, from a Communist Party official, for that data to be transferred to the Chinese government’s hands whenever they need it.”

Hawley also criticized Apple for “risking compromise to authoritarianism” because of the importance of the Chinese market to the Cupertino-based company’s partnership, announced last year, to store iCloud data locally for users in mainland China.

“If you’ve got family in China or business contacts there, you cannot count on iMessage encryption to keep your interactions secure from Chinese authorities,” Hawley said, though he praised the company’s stances on encryption and privacy.

MacDailyNews Take: In China, there is cybersecurity law that requires any company operating in China to give the government access to data. Apple must comply if they want to do business in China (which they obviously do – and pretty desperately, too; see below).

In Hong Kong, with Apple pulling the HKmap Live app and then trying to paper it over with a transparent lie, no such law compelled Apple. That was just a hypocritical political kowtow and worthy of criticism, given Tim Cook’s very public utterances regarding human rights.

15 Comments

    1. Would the Chinese government accessing these data be the same or different than the US legal system allowing law enforcement to access the 23andMe DNA database? (See slashdot.org)

  1. This isn’t simply Apple’s problem. I think it is a symptom of a greater problem that allowed US companies to do business in China, in the first place.

    China never changed regime after the revolution. How is it possible that we could trust them even 30 years on, to shut down local industry, simply because it was cheaper to use Chinese labor. Now Apple has no place to go.

    Of all the US computer makers, where do they go? Why is Apple singled out?

    At this point in time, the bed has been made and the warnings are meaningless. Apple is damned either way.

    Why did the U.K. give Honk Kong back? It was highly predictable that Honk Kong’s autonomous condition was temporary. We are crying that this is a tragedy when the 1999 handover was the actual end.

    At this point either we play China’s game or everyone, globally, gets out. It isn’t going to happen.

    Any bright ideas besides giving Apple a hard time? Also the FBI director who tried to get Apple to hand over the keys, has changed their mind. They now support Apple’s privacy stance.

    1. hong Kong was taken by force by Britain as spoils after the Opium war. in the peace treaty they had a 99 year lease on the adjacent New territories. when that lease expired there was no way for britain to maintain small Hong Kong island.

      (for those who don’t know. The Opium War was fought when China tried to stop Western powers like the British East India company and American traders from exporting Opium into China. china lost and the Western powers dumped Opium into China wrecking the Chinese economy, at that time considered the richest in the world.The drug area the Golden triangle in Burma Thailand was originally a massive British controlled opium growing area for export to China and elsewhere . The western traders were like massive drug cartels backed by the British and other western armies and navies )

      other territories lost by China in the Opium War include Macau

      If people understand a bit of Chinese history they would grasp a little of why China acts the way it does
      ( BTW few know that years later during the boxer rebellion USA marines were among those that looted and destroyed Beijing imperial palace. Among the destroyed was tens of thousands of irreplaceable Chinese history texts and tons of treasure was taken).

      BTW the british government denied citizenship rights to most Hong Kong residents before return.

  2. I hope Rep Hawley will be just as vociferous in his defense of individual privacy when US law enforcement agencies come asking Congress to force Apple and others to put “back doors” into their operating systems. You can’t have it both ways.

  3. been here in Asia near six weeks in three different countries. Didn’t go to Hong Kong but spoke to tons of overseas Chinese including Hong kong residents.

    The impression here is quite different. Although many support Hong Kong democracy they acknowledge the protests have been hijacked by violent anarchists. They are near nightly videos of firebombing, violence and looted shops etc. Many shops are closed or boarded up. Scenes not shown on USA TV (Apple is right about people complaining about anarchy).

    Right or fake conspiracy theory. … practically everyone thinks USA is behind the violent anarchist (CIA sponsored. etc. ) News channels cite similar USA tactics in Iran, Chile, Nicaragua (in the past. ) They Note USA CIA backed protests removed the iranian elected prime minister and put the Shah in power etc. They think the USA is causing disturbances like trade war and covertly hijacking Hong Kong protests not to help Chinese citizens but as a ‘China Containment’ policy.

    Foreign news via blogs etc put forward that USA wants the protests to turn violent to embarrass China. And china has shown ‘great restraint’. (imagine 5 months of violent protests in New York)

    They believe USA is frightened of Chinese growth like Huawei.

    practically nobody believes USA doing anything for ‘morals’

    sorry unlike what most Americans believe USA lost the moral high ground years ago. Other countries like Malaysia (where i visited) might not like China but think USA and Europe is not much better.

    how do Americans think outsiders view USA invasion of Iraq on pretext of WMD? no iraqi took part in 911. Most non western countries blame Syria etc on USA..

    Contrary to what Americans at home think most of the world considers China’s Uighur transgressions nothing compare to hundreds of thousands killed and millions displaced afer Iraq invasion. with latest Kurd fiasco BTW. The thousands of drone strikes etc.

    the world is completely baffled by USA comments on China while USA has destabilized huge chunks of middle east for twenty years.

    (I’m just telling you what they think talking to people and watching foreign news.
    It can explain Apple and Tim Cooks delicate maneuvering)

    1. one starring me won’t change the truth of what i have seen or heard. To the down voters have you been to Hong Kong? i didn’t go this trip but i’ve been there twice and also been to Taiwan.

      writing this in singapore which is 90% overseas Chinese.
      been to Malaysia, cambodia and Thailand.

      i bet many of the people downing Apples actions don’t give a rats ass about helping oppressed Chinese, they just don’t like China. Most i doubt have even spoken to Chinese person or visited Asia.

      BTW some local news reports show arrested Hong Kong ‘protestors’ as former triad (mafia) members who were looting shops etc (just as Apple hinted at in their statement) Blogs say some of those arrested claim they were paid and armed by USA agents

      Also imagine this, try Changing USA to China in headlines for the last 20 years and see how you feel like:

      “China invades Iraq on pretext of WMD. Chinese kills hundreds of iraqis (that did not attack China) and begins decades long war that kills, maims hundreds of thousands.
      Chinese invasion causes rise of ISIS and destabilizes region all the way to Syria causing millions of refugees to flee.
      Hundreds of Chinese drone strikes kills thousands including women and children. etc:
      Many believe China did this to control middle East oil. China did not attack Saudi arabia although most of the 9/11 attackers hitting beijing came from Saudi Arabia. “

      see when you put china instead of USA it looks different huh? That’s how the world sees USA like it or not.

      Americans live in a world of their own media and politicians illusion

      1. should be noted that chairman mao is highly revered amongst the chinese people. hmm, wonder where they get their world view ..surely, not soley from their own dictatorial government, those beloved officials who brought peace to tiananmen square. and, mao, friend of tibet, bringer of cultural revolution and the great leap forward.

        the truth is homo sapiens are wild animals with a brain and require a legal, guiding set of principles like the US constitution that can continually force them into a court of law to be righted when they get wrong. and, they get wrong a lot. al least, we have that. it’s abhorrent that we humans have done horrible things over the millenia. i’m not making excuses for america but, at least we have access to a broader view of the world and ourselves. reminds of the this slavery issue. it’s atrocious but, it didn’t start in america but it did end in america. bottom line, china is a thief and has been burglarizing america for too long.

        sorry, i tend to ramble, at times, unfocused.

        1. “at least we have access to a broader view of the world and ourselves”

          Unfortunately, you’ll probably never know just how ironic that sounds to anyone not born and “educated” in the USA.

          First, what is it you think Americans have access to the rest of the world doesn’t? Second, were such superior resources available, having a key to the gym is not what makes athletes. You all seem to have keys, but very few actually are working out, as it were.

          By the way, the USA was the last of the western nations to nearly end slavery, that’s nothing to be proud of, especially the war that was fought to end it. I say nearly as under the 13th amendment slavery was not abolished, it was merely reformed.

          I’m not in the USA, yet I was able to somehow find this information quite easily. Amazing.

          1. “Unfortunately, you’ll probably never know just how ironic that sounds to anyone not born and “educated” in the USA.”………

            thank you ted for the superior world view. and the talking points. the quotes around ‘educated’ were a bit snide, though.

            if you look back at my post, i was making a reference, not to the world view of all people on the planet but to china, specifically. in case you’re not aware, china censors the information to which its citizens may avail themselves. they also, in fact, award its citizens a ‘trustworthy’ score or ’social credit’ score which limits the opportunities available to that citizen should that citizen disappoint its autocrats. and, maybe, you think american slavery is just cleverly institutionalized, now, to which i say your anti-american bias is showing.

            this, i say, ted, we’re all human beings, thus, subject to certain weakness and frailty of character, to greed, vanity, materialism, anger, lust. it’s a challenge for us to grow in wisdom and develop a mindfulness of principles with which we may be guided. even, a belief in something greater than ourselves to which to aspire. we need liberty to make mistakes, to fall, to fail, to get back up, again, to grow, to have access to ideas. our forefathers shed their blood in this endeavor, this idea called america. to you, someone not born and ‘educated’ in the USA, it may be difficult for you to understand.

            let me know, please, how disappointed you are in my world view.

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