Tech

Bipartisan Lawmakers Call Out Apple, Blizzard for Enforcing Chinese Regime Censorship

A bipartisan group of lawmakers criticized Apple and Blizzard on Oct. 18 for their recent decisions to censor the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement for the sake of business interests in China.

Apple recently pulled a popular crowd-sourced app that maps out the protest development in Hong Kong from its app store. That came just a day after Chinese state media berated the tech giant for aiding Hong Kong protesters by approving the app. They warned that Apples business prospects are on the line.

The volunteer-run app, HKmap.live, keeps track of movements of both police and protesters. App users can avoid tear gas or clashes in the city embroiled with mass demonstrations in defiance of mounting interference from the Chinese regime.

In a joint letter to Apples CEO Tim Cook (pdf), the lawmakers said that Apples decision “to accommodate the Chinese government” was “deeply concerning.”

Citing data from non-profit Great Fire, they said that the company has also censored more than 2,200 apps in China. Among them were the Virtual Private Network apps used to get around Chinas Great Firewall and apps for oppressed groups such as Uyghurs and Tibetans.

Senate and House members: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), along with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.), and Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), signed the letter.

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Lanterns hang outside an Apple store in a mall in Beijing, China, on Feb. 23, 2016. (Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)

“We urge you in the strongest terms to reverse course, to demonstrate that Apple puts values above market access, and to stand with the brave men and women fighting for basic rights and dignity in Hong Kong,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.

“When a repressive government refuses to evolve or, indeed, when it doubles down, cooperation can become complicity,” the letter stated.

Hong Kong police face growing accusations of escalating their level of aggression toward protesters. So far, over 2,600 people have been arrested during the protests.

Cook traveled to Beijing and met with Chinas State Administration for Market Regulation on Oct. 17. According to a statement from Chinese authorities, the two sides engaged in “deep discussions” about issues such as corporate social responsibility and expanding Apples business in China.

Visitors try out games at the Blizzard Entertainment stand at the Gamescom 2015 gaming trade fair in Cologne, Germany.
Visitors try out games at the Blizzard Entertainment stand at the Gamescom 2015 gaming trade fair in Cologne, Germany.
Visitors try out games at the Blizzard Entertainment stand at the Gamescom 2015 gaming trade fair in Cologne, Germany on August 5, 2015. (Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)

Five of the members also wrote a separate letter (pdf) to Activision Blizzard, a California-based video game company. They urge it to reconsider its move to ban pro-Hong Kong player Ng Wai Chung.

Ng, better known for his online name Blitzchung, received a one-year susRead More – Source