back to article Apple accused of censoring apps in Hong Kong and Russia to maintain market access

Apple has been accused of selling out human rights for the sake of profit by cooperating with authoritarian censorship demands in China and Russia, according to two reports issued on Thursday. The reports, "Apps at Risk: Apple's Censorship and Compromises in Hong Kong" and "United Apple: Apple's Censorship and Compromises in …

  1. ChoHag Silver badge

    A repressive regime, willing to collaborate with repressive regimes?

    Shocked. Shocked, and appalled.

    1. NoneSuch Silver badge

      Screw 'em.

      Apple is not the only US corp to make concessions to do business in China. The latest Top Gun movie changed the Taiwan flag on Cruises flight jacket to something less politically sensitive. Hollywood has made multiple changes and edits to other major films to keep the CCP happy. John Cena's cringeworthy apology to China was forced by his production company so sales would not be affected.

      Screw them. Screw the CCP and it's oppression of their own peoples freedoms and well being. Screw them for occupying Tibet and destroying temples and killing Buddhist monks. Screw their illegal occupation of the South China Sea. Screw their taking over of trade ports throughout Europe and the rest of the world. Screw them for bribing South Pacific islands into submission.

      China banned Winnie the Pooh because President Xi looks like him FFS. Screw them all. Don't buy Chinese products. Don't support Chinese encroachment into your local economy. And buy as many Winnie the Pooh posters as you can to give the CCP the two stiff finger salute.

      1. Spazturtle Silver badge

        Re: Screw 'em.

        "The latest Top Gun movie changed the Taiwan flag on Cruises flight jacket to something less politically sensitive."

        That was just for the trailer, in the actual movie it was the Taiwan flag.

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Screw 'em.

          That was just for the trailer, in the actual movie it was the Taiwan flag.

          The movie you saw, sure. I'll bet they saw something different in theaters in Beijing.

      2. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: Screw 'em.

        "The latest Top Gun movie changed the Taiwan flag on Cruises flight jacket to something less politically sensitive"

        But it was switched back. They realised what they were doing, realised the US market were getting pissed off with these direct censors as in they are censored for the US market as well to save the Chinese doing it. Realised viewers were objecting so told China to sod off and changed it back. Hollywood have finally realised their mistake when China asked them to remove the Statue of Liberty from the Spiderman movie. When they managed to make loads of money with without the Chinese market, they started to stop self censoring.

        Look up Laowhy86 on YouTube and his "Why Hollywood Now REFUSES to Bow Down to China" video. Its quite good. And on one of their ADVChina videos they talk about their time living in China for 15 years for Winston and 10 years for c-milk regarding the Hollywood movies and how China have been ripping them off for years. China's local films are released and don't do very well, so when you go to the cinema to watch a Hollywood movie, Winston said the ticket that was printed out was for the Chinese movie which the teller crossed out and wrote the Hollywood movie. However, it means the money from the ticket sale went to the local Chinese movie instead so inflate its viewing numbers & profits.

        Its not the fault of the Chinese, its the fault of the CCP and the stupid Winnie the Pooh lookalike cock that runs it.

        1. martinusher Silver badge

          Re: Screw 'em.

          I'm sure that the Chinese mass market is really interested in sitting through an hour or two of US propaganda wrapped up as an action movie.

        2. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Screw 'em.

          If they left the Taiwan flag in the movie shown in China it would not be allowed to be shown in China, it is that simple. So if it was shown in China, the version they showed had it removed.

          The only "refusal to bow down" Hollywood made was to hide the bowing down by only doing it inside China.

          And it isn't necessarily true that changing a flag is really all that big of a deal. If ISIS had done some major terrorist attacks on the US and congress passed a feel good "that'll show 'em" law to make the ISIS flag illegal, but say Japan didn't have that law would Sony be "bowing down" to the US if the versions of Sony films in the US edited out the ISIS flag that was shown in the movie in other countries?

    2. Jurassic.Hermit

      It seems that many tweebs, especially those residing in the USA / California, fail to understand the difference between a local / national business versus an international business.

  2. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    It's the American way

    So no surprise that the world expert in gouging, restrictive and shady practices would do whatever increases their profits.


    1. Woodnag

      Don't forget PRISM

      At least we get told about the Gov-forced limitations in China and so on. The PRISM surveillance in USA was secret:

      "Prism is a Us government-run programme for accessing vast swathes of data from some of the world's biggest and most powerful technology companies, such as Apple and Google... Prism is a programme giving NSA operatives direct access to the servers of these companies, giving them unfettered access to personal information of billions of people around the globe."

  3. elsergiovolador Silver badge


    The same group apparently also created another shocking report where they found that bears actually make number two in the woods!

    1. GraXXoR

      Re: Woods

      Is it weird I read that in a Russian Accent.

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Not really a surprise

    Apple only takes a stand for freedom and justice when its CEO does not run the risk of ending up in jail.

    In China, he would.

    So he kowtows to Beijing and, in return, gets to rake in the dough.

    Conscience ?

    That's for those who can be fired.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Not really a surprise

      There are labour camps for people with conscience.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @elsergiovolador - Re: Not really a surprise

        Even with those camps, they can't beat the most democratic country of all.

    2. tooltalk

      Re: Not really a surprise

      >> Apple only takes a stand for freedom and justice when its CEO does not run the risk of ending up in jail. In China, he would.

      Which is why other American tech companies, eg, Google and Facebook, opted out of China years ago and even their #1 competitor1, Samsung, pulled their massive smartphone operation out of China. Tim Apple needs 50+% profit margin on their iPhones.

  5. razorfishsl

    You have to laugh that a homosexual who demands freedoms & runs accompany is then prepared to strip others of the same freedoms he demands...

    What a hypocrite......

    1. Dave@Home


      Why bring his sexuality into it?

      The same hypocracy would scan just as well if you referred to him as a man, or a person.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: weird

        > Why bring his sexuality into it?

        Tell me you didn't read the article without telling me you didn't read the article:

        > Russia’s innovative and extensive oppression has also led to censorship within software (LGBTQ+ watch faces), accessories (LGBTQ+ watch bands)...

        So yes, sexuality, and Apple's active collusion in oppression of sexual minorities, was already a subject of relevance to the discussion.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    typo alert


  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's the alternative?

    To get Apple banned, so 100% of the apps get censored? At least being forced to co-operate with a partial censorship means some things can get missed by the censors. Pulling out of the market makes sure the users get nothing at all. (Or maybe that's supposed to work like a sanction? I'm afraid I don't really understand how sanctions are supposed to work anyway, Russia doesn't seem to care much about them)

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What's the alternative?

      > To get Apple banned, so 100% of the apps get censored? At least being forced to co-operate with a partial censorship means some things can get missed by the censors.

      It's fairly easy to see what the alternative would likely be, because Google has refused to kowtow to Beijing, and thus the Google Play Store is not available in mainland China. What the mainland Chinese market have instead are a selection of home-grown Android app stores.

      Now I don't have personal experience with these, but from articles and reports over the years I've gathered that they generally have a lower level of quality control (eg. having more scam, malware, pirated apps) than the official Google and Apple stores, so one might question how well such third-party stores could proactively police censorship of apps.

      > Pulling out of the market makes sure the users get nothing at all.

      Correction: pulling out of the market makes sure that *Apple* gets nothing at all. Users can still get locally-manufactured Andoid phones instead. Which is why Apple would rather collude with a genocidal authoritarian dictatorship than stand up for the values it claims to represent.

      1. Youngone Silver badge

        Re: What's the alternative?

        To be fair to Apple they're just doing capitalism.

        The vast American corporation I work for pretends to have the same respect for human rights that Apple does, but also profits mightily from the Chinese market.

    3. Potemkine! Silver badge

      Godwin point for me

      Those who organised the deportation of foreign Jews from France had the same kind of argument, "if we didn't do it it would have been made by Germany and it would have been worse".

      Utter BS from collaborators who sold their honour and humanity to ugly bastards expecting gains from that.

      == Bring us Dabbsy back! ==

  8. PhilipN Silver badge


    Definitely missing from the declared identity of the organisation promulgating the reports and also the manner in which they gathered information. Every global media outlet and search engine is accessible in Hong Kong so the report (q.v.) on that point as regards where most HK people get their information is nonsensical.

  9. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Didn't we just have

    A big school sports day where players were banned from having armbands and our governments and national broadcasters were all tripping over themselves to approve of it?

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: Didn't we just have

      I do recall something of the kind. Wasn't it held in an undemocratic company that would be a persona non grata amongst nations if it didn't have the money to bribe people?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No surprise... least they are starting to pull out of Russia.

    Also, not just Apple. They all do this.

  11. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

    Of course the do!

    They are obeying the local laws. They always do. Google, including google maps in Russia as current example, does it too. Why should they do it different? Just because some other country thinks it can impose a "our laws have to be obeyed in other countries as well!" rule? No! Who does <insert any country/nation/group here> think they are? If the <other whoever> wants to enforce it they have to 100% block everything, and not just allow business to make money and then complain about a company obeying local laws.

  12. DenTheMan

    Re The Yeti Coward


    And no flies landed on Beckham

    Floats like a butterfly

    Stings for $100 million.

  13. VoiceOfTruth

    Oh how the USA likes to preach

    Greatfire is financed by the USA. How the USA likes to preach.

    Back in 2001, the USA's ally the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan committed a massacre of the Taliban by basically suffocating them to death in shipping containers while American soldiers were present. Whatever you or I think of the Taliban is not the point. A documentary was made about this war crime called Afghan Massacre: The Convoy of Death. It was shown in the European parliament. Any guesses where it was not shown? Answer: the USA.

    The USA turns a blind eye to its own wrongdoings while preaching as though the sun shines out its arse.

  14. tekHedd

    Accused? Accused?!

    That's a very nice way of saying "called out". It's not like they can deny it, just try to spin it.

  15. TheInstigator

    In terms of censuring apps etc...

    I don't know if China made it a law to censure the apps, or if it was influence - but if it's actually a local law specifically in a country - then the prevailing logic/behaviour follows the saying "when in Rome ..." - you can't expect to go to another country and pick and choose to only follow the laws that you agree with - or at least if you do, then you should be prepared for people to come to your country and do the same.

    If you don't agree with that country's laws & policies - vote with your feet - leave.

    Or if you have a big stick (i.e. lots of guns and missiles) - kill the enemy.

  16. steviebuk Silver badge

    Apple and Tim Apple

    Should be ashamed. The recent protests in China was helped as they were able to use Apple Airdrop between devices which the shitty CCP couldn't monitor. Tim Apple realising he'd loose his China market gets an update sent out, only for China that would cripple the feature on the demand of the CCP.

    All the people that were protesting that are now being arrested. All the people that will be disappeared like the Tank Man was, all those deaths are now on Tim Apples hands.

  17. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    If Apple cared about human rights

    then they would not be manufacturing in China.

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