U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) have written a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook questioning the company’s tactics behind removing VPN apps from China’s App Store. These VPN apps made their way to the region’s App Store in July, and were removed shortly following the regulations which required such apps to go through the Chinese government first.
The letter talks about how Apple could be enabling China’s censorship laws that disallow users from using the internet freely and anonymously. Given that this letter is coming from a bipartisan group of senators, it could build significant pressure on Apple.
The letter discusses a number of issues, while also raising some pertinent questions for Tim Cook. The senators ask if Apple was asked by the government to take this step, knowing fully well that it’s against free expression.
The letter read – “While Apple’s many contributions to the global exchange of information are admirable, removing VPN apps that allow individuals in China to evade the Great Firewall and access the internet privately does not enable people in China to ‘speak up’.”
“To the contrary, if Apple complies with such demands from the Chinese government it inhibits free expression for users across China, particularly in light of the Cyberspace Administration of China’s new regulations targeting online anonymity.”
Apple has already, in a way, answered some of these questions. Cook, speaking at an earnings call a couple of months ago, explained the move by saying “We would rather not remove apps, but like we do in other countries, we follow the law where we do business.”
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