r/technology – Apple hands personal data to China and removes ‘offensive’ apps


Archive news

Didi Tang, Beijing

Tuesday May 18 2021

Apple Inc has largely ceded the control over the personal data of its Chinese users to the Chinese government, and it has complied with the Chinese law to remove tens of thousands of apps deemed offensive by Beijing from its Chinese app store, an investigation by The New York Times has shown.

Of all US tech giants, Apple relies the most on the Chinese market. Tim Cook, the CEO, has largely moved Apple’s production to mainland China. The mainland, together with Hong Kong and Taiwan, is the third largest market for Apple, helping to make it one of the most valued companies in the world.

But as Apple gains access to the vast Chinese market, it has agreed to work with the Chinese government, known for its tight digital censorship and pervasive surveillance on its people.

Apple has agreed to store the personal data of its Chinese users on computer servers run by a state-owned firm, according to The New York Times, which based its report on internal Apple documents, interviews with former and current Apple employees, security experts and court filings in the US.

“Chinese state employees physically manage the computers. Apple abandoned the encryption technology it used elsewhere after China would not allow it. And the digital keys that unlock information on those computers are stored in the data centers they’re meant to secure,” read the report.

An analysis by the US newspaper found that tens of thousands of apps disappeared from Apple’s Chinese App Store. While most were unlicensed gaming apps, the list includes foreign news outlets, including the app for The New York Times, gay dating services and encrypted messaging apps. In 2019, it removed HKmap.live, an app used by protesters in Hong Kong to track the police. Two years earlier, Apple blocked ExpressVPN in China. It was a tool to circumvent the country’s internet firewall.

Phillip Shoemaker, who ran Apple’s App Store from 2009 to 2016, told The New York Times that Apple lawyers in China gave his team a list of topics that could not appear in apps in the country, including Tiananmen Square, where a pro-democracy movement was crushed by the Chinese military in 1989, and independence for Tibet and Taiwan.


Archive news

Didi Tang, Beijing

Tuesday May 18 2021

Apple Inc has largely ceded the control over the personal data of its Chinese users to the Chinese government, and it has complied with the Chinese law to remove tens of thousands of apps deemed offensive by Beijing from its Chinese app store, an investigation by The New York Times has shown.

Of all US tech giants, Apple relies the most on the Chinese market. Tim Cook, the CEO, has largely moved Apple’s production to mainland China. The mainland, together with Hong Kong and Taiwan, is the third largest market for Apple, helping to make it one of the most valued companies in the world.

But as Apple gains access to the vast Chinese market, it has agreed to work with the Chinese government, known for its tight digital censorship and pervasive surveillance on its people.

Apple has agreed to store the personal data of its Chinese users on computer servers run by a state-owned firm, according to The New York Times, which based its report on internal Apple documents, interviews with former and current Apple employees, security experts and court filings in the US.

“Chinese state employees physically manage the computers. Apple abandoned the encryption technology it used elsewhere after China would not allow it. And the digital keys that unlock information on those computers are stored in the data centers they’re meant to secure,” read the report.

An analysis by the US newspaper found that tens of thousands of apps disappeared from Apple’s Chinese App Store. While most were unlicensed gaming apps, the list includes foreign news outlets, including the app for The New York Times, gay dating services and encrypted messaging apps. In 2019, it removed HKmap.live, an app used by protesters in Hong Kong to track the police. Two years earlier, Apple blocked ExpressVPN in China. It was a tool to circumvent the country’s internet firewall.

Phillip Shoemaker, who ran Apple’s App Store from 2009 to 2016, told The New York Times that Apple lawyers in China gave his team a list of topics that could not appear in apps in the country, including Tiananmen Square, where a pro-democracy movement was crushed by the Chinese military in 1989, and independence for Tibet and Taiwan.

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