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Apple and Privacy: are there Bedrock Principles or Pragmatic State of the Moment “whatever works” Policies at Play?

Apple has generally done a good job on privacy for which I aplaud them.

But here in the USA, Apple has thwarted the FBI (a policy I don’t take a position on at this time), Tim Cook himself has harshly criticized our own President (here I invoke Tim Cook’s own words as relevant e.g., “regardless of your political views”) all while failing to criticize a far more serious violator of human rights—all for the sake of money.

I refere to the fact that Apple just turned iCloud in China over to the Chinese government, justified with the insipid bromide of respecting national laws of a repressive communist nation building the most Orwellian society ever seen on earth—breathtaking in scope—read up on it. A country that jails or kills people that get in the way.

How does one reconcile insipid bromides versus major corporate actions, and what does this tell us about integrity and principles versus corporate profit? I cannot reconcile this action with the claimed principles of Apple.

The foregoing is jawdropping in the context of Apple’s outspoken social and political postures in the USA. Whatever one may think of the current federal policies, few if any of them can rival the coercive anti-individual-rights policies of the Chinese government. The Chinese people deserve better and while it’s not Apple’s role to fix the problem, it is also not its role to enable evil. And it certainly has a mandate to speak out against Chinese policies, or shut up here in the USA on social issues. Or issue a press release stating that corporate profit is the #1 priority, and everything else takes a back seat—that at least would show integrity and honesty. But to silently turn over iCloud to the Chinese government (well, a firm that is a proxy for it)—that is a major corporate action that deserves intense scrutiny.

I quote Tim Cook (emphasis added):

Regardless of your political views, we must all stand together on this one point — that we are all equal. As a company, through our actions, our products and our voice, we will always work to ensure that everyone is treated equally and with respect.

I believe Apple has led by example, and we’re going to keep doing that.

Taking this statement at face value, it seems that Apple’s new policy will be to support every killer regime in the world by accepting their policies, e.g. things like turning over iCloud over to any country regardless of whether individual rights are protected or ignored. The hypocrisy speaks volumes.

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