From watching our grandkids play video games to typing out our weekly grocery lists, mobile devices have become a part of practically everything we do. But how much do we really know about the corporations who control those devices?
Take Apple, a company whose brand is synonymous with modern progressivism and ingenuity. From its humble beginnings in Steve Jobs’ garage, the company has morphed into a household name. Recently, they’ve used their considerable platform to issue woke proclamations on American social issues and even launched a nationwide Racial Equity and Justice Initiative to “dismantle systemic barriers” in communities of color.
For the uninitiated, it may come as a shock, then, to know that Apple, much like the rest of America’s big tech companies, cherishes a longstanding and lopsided relationship with the Chinese government. This means that Apple operates under two sets of standards: one for doing business in America, another for appeasing the Chinese Communist Party.
Under the watchful eye of Beijing, Apple employs Uyghur Muslim slave labor to manufacture iPhones and actively lobbied against U.S. legislation to combat these communist labor camps, where forced sterilizations and government-led killings of minority groups are commonplace. Apple also works with Chinese military forces to remove communication apps for pro-democracy protestors and all but handed China the keys to track down users. That’s right—the same Apple that refused to assist FBI investigators in the United States due to privacy concerns provided China with the data to imprison dissidents.
Apple also looks the other way in its preferential treatment of Chinese app developers. In the U.S. app marketplace, the company rules with an iron fist, taking 30 percent of profits and acting as gatekeepers to the mobile space. Although Apple removed Fortnite from the U.S. App Store over small fee disputes, Chinese developers follow a different playbook altogether.
Apps like Tik Tok and WeChat regularly violate Apple’s privacy agreement by collecting personal data of users under the age of 13—including biometric data. Even with explicit violations of Apple’s terms and conditions, these Chinese-backed apps remain available for download, undoubtedly because of China’s lobbying.
Despite the best efforts of apps like Spotify, Tile, and Fortnite which banded together to challenge Apple’s chokehold, the balance of power between developers and Apple remains hopelessly cockeyed. But, Apple’s double standard for developers demonstrates that this is far more than an international tech dispute; it’s putting our children and grandchildren at risk. If Apple refuses to punish Chinese-backed apps that spy on our children and open the floodgates for a slew of child predators to target underage users, is there anything China can’t do?
As a mother and grandmother, I know that much of our work, school, and leisure time is ruled by big tech. Amid their woke-washing publicity campaigns, companies like Apple operate under a set of double standards that threaten human rights, intellectual property rights, and our kids’ safety. On Capitol Hill, I continue to pressure Apple to reevaluate their shifting standards for the Chinese Communist Party and ensure that big tech cannot go unchecked.