Apple’s decision to remove China VPN has sparked controversy regarding free speech, especially from senators Ted Cruz and Patrick Leahy.
Apple’s latest decision to remove Virtual Private Networks from their China application store has been labeled as “enabling the Chinese government surveillance and censorship of the internet,” and “not enabling people in China to ‘speak up’”. This controversy has been led by Senators Ted Cruz and Patrick Leahy, who sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook last week, asking to know Apple’s involvement in Chinese government censorship regime and the company’s support to free speech, and demanding that the Company explain why it removed VPN apps from its China application store in July this year.
This concerns coming from the senators may come as humorous. Taking Tim Cook’s word on law, “Apple will follow the law in whichever country it does business.” So, are the senators’ demands well-based? Is Apple a Company big enough to go against a country’s law? Isn’t Apple just acting in accordance to the place in which it’s operating?
Whenever an overseas Company wishes to do business in the United States it must abide by the United States law, so would the US allow companies from overseas to act without abiding by US laws? The answer is no. Freedom always has conditions attached, and in this case, the condition is in the perspective of the country over this matter, which although universal, may differ in some aspects from culture to culture. A quote from the famous Chinese Philosopher Confucius once said thousands of years ago resumes what the US senators should think, “What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.”
All businesses operating within China must abide by the law and, thus, are required to properly register with the corresponding authorities, and at the bottom of the website an Internet Content Provider License must be displayed. Which is to say, only businesses and particulars that do not properly register with the authorities are objective of the new measures, hence, law-abiding ones will not.
All of this, is part of a campaign led by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China, which began in January this year with the purpose of having a better management of cyberspace, that does not mean an overall restriction and elimination of VPN services, rather a prohibition of illegal or unauthorized Virtual Private Network services.
People in other countries often forget the fact that Chinese citizens do not decide other countries’ laws as these other countries’ citizens can’t decide China’s laws, as for these Chinese actions, similar to many other laws and regulations, have taken into consideration the country’s reality and are made with the purpose of ensuring orderly development and stability of the Chinese society.
In addition, a product from Apple, the Apple Watch was recently suspended in China. The Apple Watch allows people to perform voice calls, receive and send text as well as data without a wired connection to an iPhone, which indeed defies Chinese authorities’ regulation of mobile phones, according to a report made by the WSJ.
The US and its officials are used to pointing their fingers and imposing their will on other countries. Such mentality requires a change, since as their current President once said, “America comes first,” the senators have a better focus on their own problems and business.