Apple CEO Tim Cook declined to comment on the protests in China, avoiding questions about why the company’s AirDrop functionality was limited in the country or his thoughts on the beatings inflicted on factory workers. iPhone factory.
Cook was bombarded with questions as he arrived Thursday for meetings with lawmakers on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
FOX Business asked him if he supported the protests and if he regretted allegedly restricting access to AirDrop. But Cook remained silent.
The meetings came just a day after the White House was accused of double standards, as a senior spokesperson deflected questions about Apple bowing to Chinese authorities, saying the tech giant was a private company, while the Biden administration says it is monitoring Twitter for misinformation.
Apple CEO Tim Cook was bombarded with questions about the protests in China as he arrived for meetings with lawmakers on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Thursday, but remained silent.
FOX Business asked him if he supported protests in China and if he regretted allegedly restricting AirDrop access in the country. But Cook remained silent
Apple is catching the heat for a new software update – exclusive to China – that makes it harder to use the AirDrop feature on iPhones.
That shift happened on Nov. 9 – just weeks before historic nationwide protests erupted against the country’s ‘zero COVID’ lockdowns.
‘I would like to know why[Apple]continues to aid and abet the totalitarian regime by [China] while campaigning against free speech at home,’ Missouri GOP Senator Josh Hawley said, throwing both spears at the company at the same time.
In a letter to CEO Tim Cook on Tuesday, Hawley called on the company to move its existing manufacturing presence in China to the United States.
“Why did Apple change AirDrop functionality in China in a way that makes it harder for Chinese protesters to communicate?” He asked.
He accused the tech giant of “actively supporting the Chinese government’s brutal crackdown” on protesters who are tired of living in authoritarian lockdowns that appear to have done little to slow the actual spread of COVID-19.
Representative Mike Waltz of Florida, a leading voice in Congress to hold Beijing to account, said Tuesday: “Tim Cook is an apologist for a dictatorship, helping to silence Chinese protesters by limiting AirDrop on iPhones sold only in Mainland China.”
“Big Tech is playing politics and putting free speech at risk,” Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn wrote on Twitter last night.
GOP lawmakers are also questioning Apple about its new China-exclusive AirDrop update that limits use of the feature, which was implemented just weeks before the nationwide protests.
AirDrop feature allows iPhone users to bypass internet censorship by sharing photos, videos and notes only over wireless connection between Apple devices. It was used during the 2019 protests in Hong Kong by activists spreading protest literature to outsiders through Apple’s extensive network.
But the new China-only update limits the number of times users can receive AirDrops from people around them, or select settings that allow them to only get content from their contacts.
After the The White House was accused of double standards on Wednesday, John Kirby, strategic communications coordinator for the National Security Council, appeared on FOX News and said it was a matter of comparing “apples and oranges”.
Conservatives have expressed fury at the White House after they said it would keep tabs on misinformation being spread on Twitter after Elon Musk bought the platform.
He also expressed concern that foreign investors could manipulate the platform.
John Kirby, strategic communications coordinator for the National Security Council, faced accusations of double standards when he appeared on Fox News on Wednesday
Elon Musk’s ownership of Twitter has come under intense scrutiny, leading Republicans to say the administration has double standards when it comes to Tim Cook’s Apple
Kirby therefore faced some tough questions about his response to Apple restricting the use of its Airdrop feature just before the protests broke out.
“We have been clear about this all over the world,” he said.
“We want citizens, regardless of the government they live under, to be able to communicate freely and openly, transparently and reliably.
“And we made that clear with regard to Iran.” And we certainly continue to make that clear here when it comes to Apple.
Host Martha MacCallum pressed him to find out if the administration had made that point to Tim Cook’s company.
“Apple is a private company, Martha,” he replied. “They have to make decisions and they have to speak for those decisions.”
China has seen a wave of protests as it imposes shutdowns and pursues its “zero COVID” policy.
Protesters even demanded the removal of Xi Jinping as president.
Apple’s AirDrop has proven a useful way for critics to circumvent Chinese surveillance during other waves of dissent, such as in Hong Kong in 2019.
MacCallum contrasted the administration’s approach of allowing Apple to do its own thing with White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, saying officials were monitoring misinformation on Twitter — though it is also acts as a private company.
“I think we’ve been very clear and consistent about that,” Kirby replied.
“Certainly, publicly, we have been very open about our desire to be able to see citizens communicate.
“Apple, if this is a decision they’re making, then they should be talking about it, but we’re not, we can’t, and we’re not telling private companies how to execute their initiatives. ‘
In the past, Chinese protesters have found Apple’s AirDrop a useful way to evade communications surveillance. But the company recently released an update limiting its use.
People in China protested in defiance of the draconian COVID-19 lockdown
MacCallum chimed in to say, “Twitter is also a private company. So why does Twitter get one treatment and Apple get another? »
“Those are two completely different circumstances you’re talking about,” he said.
“You talk about the potential for foreign investment and involvement in the management of Twitter. This is a different issue than the one we’re talking about here, which is a business decision by Apple regarding how one of their apps is used.
But he acknowledged that it was an important question.
“I certainly think that’s a fair question to ask Apple and try to get them to understand why they did this,” he said.
The role of foreign investors in Twitter, coupled with Musk’s laissez-faire approach to moderation, has raised concerns that the platform could be manipulated by foreign powers.
Securities filings show Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abudlaziz of Saudi Arabia paid $1.9 billion of the purchase price under the Musk deal, making him the second largest shareholder.
Lawmakers have already flagged the role of Saudi money in the deal and called for a review.