FCC Commissioner calls out Apple CEO Tim Cook over human rights hypocrisy

U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Brendan Carr this week sent Apple CEO Tim Cook a letter calling out Cook’s hypocrisy on human rights.

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook

U.S. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr:

Dear Mr. Cook,

Last week, you gave a speech in Washington, D.C., in which you spoke eloquently about what you described as Apple’s commitment to operating its App Store in a manner that promotes privacy and human rights. You expressed Apple’s “commitment to protecting people from a data industrial complex built on a foundation of surveillance.” And you spoke out forcefully against a reality in which “technology is exploited to rob humanity of that which is foundational” as “a loss we cannot accept.” I am concerned that your words in Washington founder upon the harsh reality of your actions in China.

Indeed, at the very same time that you were speaking in D.C. about your App Store policies promoting privacy and human rights, your company was continuing its well documented campaign in Beijing of aggressively censoring apps at the behest of the Communist Party of China. In fact, as the New York Times previously reported, “Mr. Cook often talks about Apple’s commitment to civil liberties and privacy. But to stay on the right side of Chinese regulators, his company has put the data of its Chinese customers at risk and has aided government censorship in the Chinese version of its App Store.” Or as the Asia director for Amnesty International once put it: “Apple has become a cog in the censorship machine that presents a government-controlled version of the internet… If you look at the behavior of the Chinese government, you don’t see any resistance from Apple – no history of standing up for the principles that Apple claims to be so attached to.

In your speech last week, you stated that “technology is neither inherently good nor inherently bad. It is a mirror that reflects the ambitions and intentions of the people who build it.” So what does Apple’s decision to use its technology to engage in censorship on behalf of Communist China reflect about your company? Does it represent the commitment you expressed last week “to advocate on behalf of our users and what they deserve”?

While there are many examples of Apple doing the bidding of Communist China including its decisions to remove Quran and Bible apps- I am focusing in this letter on just one case: Apple’s decision to remove the Voice of America mobile app from its App Store in China. Apple’s decision to appease the Communist Party of China – an authoritarian regime that the State Department has determined is committing genocide and crimes against humanity – cannot be squared with your representation in Washington that Apple will “battle against an array of dangerous actors” nor your claim that Apple will “protect people’s fundamental rights” from abusive surveillance.

I am writing to you now because I only recently learned that Apple blocks the Voice of America mobile app from its App Store in China. And I find Apple’s conduct in this regard deeply troubling, particularly given your words last week. Voice of America is part of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which is funded by Congress. Voice of America operates by statute as an objective, independent voice when it comes to its reporting and content. Its first principle says it all: “VOA will serve as a consistently reliable and authoritative source of news.”

Indeed, Voice of America, which began its operations in 1942, now operates as a multiplatform news service- offering both online and broadcast content- that provides news and information in more than 40 languages to hundreds of millions of people across the globe. The Voice of America mobile app is one of its most recent innovations, which allows smartphone users to access unfiltered news content. The Voice of America app also safeguards user privacy by including built-in support for circumvention technologies. As such, it can be an important tool for those that want access to news and information uncensored by authoritarian regimes – unless, of course, you are an iPhone user in China.

For years, global corporations like Apple have cut deals with brutal regimes like Communist China in exchange for access to a large and lucrative market. Of course, these corporations advance all sorts of reasonable sounding arguments to justify their decisions to stand shoulder to shoulder with authoritarians. We commonly hear refrains along the lines of it’s better that we’re there to give people a taste of freedom than exit the market entirely. Or, as you stated in 2017, that it is better for a company to show up and participate “because nothing ever changes from the sideline.” But these profit-driven arguments run headlong into real world experience.

China is not becoming more open or bending towards freedom because Apple is doing business there. Far from it. China is cracking down on individual liberty at an accelerating clip. Look at Hong Kong. Look at Xinjiang. Or look at the reports purporting to link Apple’s supply chain to Uyghur forced labor. Continuing to partner with brutal regimes like Communist China only provides them with tacit – if not explicit – support and emboldens those bad actors. It provides them with a veneer of openness and legitimacy, while allowing them to surveil individuals and limit their human rights.

Particularly for a company like Apple that professes to value human rights and “battle” dangerous actors, as you stated last week, it is past time to stand up for those values – not just in words in Washington but through deeds in Beijing. Indeed, I would encourage Apple to evaluate its overall relationship with China, particularly its extensive manufacturing operations there, to ensure that these relationships reflect the global values Apple voices.

For now, though, I am writing with a straightforward request. Please provide a response to this one question by April 29, 2022: Will Apple allow access to the Voice of America mobile app through its App Store in China, consistent with the fundamental human rights that you articulated in your speech?


Brendan Carr

MacDailyNews Take: François de La Rochefoucauld said it best: “Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.”

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[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]


  1. Here come all the posts about how Tim has enslaved Apple to China. Here come the posts about how Tim should have looong ago moved everything to some other magical, safe, unnamed, politically and economically stable location capable of matching China’s manufacturing and assembly capabilities (which are by far the largest in recorded human history).

    1. If Cook is going to do business with a tyrannical serial human-rights-abusing commie genocide machine, perhaps he should keep his cock holster shut lest he be publicly derided for his obvious hypocrisy.

      Alas, he’s too stupid to figure it out.

      Here’s the dumb ass recently wading into yet another minority losing position in the culture wars and, by default, stupidly dragging the Apple brand along with him (see: Disney):

      Cook was another bad CEO choice by Jobs. He’s a visionless, boring, supercilious liability. Hopefully he gets the same comeuppance that the Disney CEO Bob Chapek is about to get.

    2. You finally got it and articulated perfectly the PROBLEM with Cook, Apple and their EPIC HYPOCRISY.

      “largest in recorded human history” yes, the largest slave labor force with few human rights, so what’s your point Apple apologist?…

  2. I still laugh at this forum here. Years ago I called out Tim Cook for the complete and total fraud that he is. I was laughed at, mocked even by the forum. Dozens of one stars came my way. I never wavered on bit. I have been calling for Tim Cook to be fired for YEARS, as a public speaker on forums and as a long term AAPL shareholder.

    Plenty of people are latecomers to this position, but I was there long before most. Tim Cook is by far THE worst CEO in America today.

    FIRE Tim Cook!

    1. Tim Cook is the best CEO in America today.

      He has to balance the ideals of the company against the reality of the world.

      The perfect is the enemy of the good, and if he lost China someone else would come in and it’d be even worse. As is, Apple is the best choice for Chinese citizens, as imperfect as it is.

      That said, there are reports of Apple’s escalating efforts to detach itself from dependence on China and build new products elsewhere.

      It’s easy to armchair quarterback on some random Apple website. It’s another to be the CEO of the most valuable company in the world at the bleeding intersection of technology and privacy.

      1. Well said. But the right wing nut jobs basically hover over the site waiting to pounce on anything they can express their so called “moral outrage” at. I just skip over their comments now when I see the names of the regulars. Nothing worth reading there. I suspect they do the same with my comments and that bothers me not one bit.

          1. Well, I assume you mean AppleBS and since it’s clear he/she is not an Apple fan and I obviously am I’m not not clear on how you draw that parallel. I should say I am actually platform agnostic when it comes to computers and use Windows as much as I do my Macs.

            As for the book, I’m glad you saw fit to buy it and read it. Obviously it worked.

      2. “Tim Cook is the best CEO in America today.”

        John is lying and only the dumbest Leftists on planet Earth turn a blind eye to Cook’s HYPOCRISY.

        “He has to balance the ideals of the company again the reality of the world.”

        Only the dumbest Apple APOLOGIST on Planet Earth would write the CEO hypocrite of all time has balanced noble ideals.

        Nothing noble about using slave labor for the largest profit margins in business history, turning a blind eye to human rights abuses in a country that pulls his puppet strings to help the Communist Party censor their citizens and denying freedom of information from around the world.

        My God man, obviously you have no brains, no morals, no empathy or respect for the enslaved and controlled citizens of China by a surveillance totalitarian government often resulting in torture and death.

        IGNORANCE is BLISS for the misguided morally bankrupt among us…

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