Last week, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) wrote Apple CEO Tim Cook about his firm’s removal of VPN apps from the China app store in July. VPN stands for Virtual Private Networks, which when accessed through apps, allow Internet users in China to bypass government censorship.
NLPC raised this issue on September 19 when we asked the Newseum to rescind its 2017 “Free Expression Award “ that it made to Cook in April. The Senators’ letter also seizes on the Award and quotes Cook from that evening when he declared, “At Apple, we are just not allowing others to speak up, we are doing so ourselves.” The letter asks Cook to “Please provide copies of any statements that Apple has issued either promoting freedom of speech in China or condemning China’s censorship and surveillance mechanisms…”
The rest of the letter is equally pointed, and includes nine other questions about Apple’s relationship with the Chinese government and possible complicity in Chinese censorship. From the letter:
The threat that the Great Firewall poses to the freedom of the people of China is similar to the threat that the Berlin Wall imposed on the people of East Berlin for twenty-eight years. As long as the Great Firewall operates and is enabled by American technology companies, Internet freedom in China will remain at risk.
No public response yet from Cook. Click here to download the three-page Leahy/Cruz letter.