Apple CEO blasts Georgia voting law, but has stayed silent on Chinese repression

Chuck Ross, DCNF

Apple CEO Tim Cook on Thursday criticized a new voting law in Georgia, even though the multi-trillion-dollar tech company has repeatedly accommodated the Chinese government’s requests to censor content, including during pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

“Apple believes that, thanks in part to the power of technology, it ought to be easier than ever for every eligible citizen to exercise their right to vote,” Cook told Axios in an interview about the Georgia bill, which was signed into law on Friday.

Democrats and several major corporations have blasted the Georgia law, alleging that it will make it harder for Georgians, especially minorities, to vote. President Joe Biden has called it “Jim Crow in the 21st century,” in reference to segregation-era laws that discriminated against African-Americans in the South.

Opponents have been especially critical of a provision that requires an ID to obtain an absentee ballot.

Defenders of the bill have noted that other states have similar ID provisions. The Washington Post fact-checker has also criticized Biden for inaccurately claiming that the bill cuts the number of hours polls are open.

“We support efforts to ensure that our democracy’s future is more hopeful and inclusive than its past,” Cook told Axios.

Cook’s comments are in stark contrast to his silence on China’s efforts to block content critical of Beijing.

Cook came under fire in October 2019 after Apple removed an app popular among pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong after the Chinese government said it was being used for “illegal behavior.”

Apple defended the decision, saying that the app was being used in ways that “endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong.”

That same month, Cook was appointed chairman of the advisory board for Tsinghua University, which has been linked to cyber espionage activities.

BuzzFeed reported last year that Apple removed 517 apps in the second half of 2018 at China’s request. Apple opposed just two out of 56 requests made by the Chinese government to remove apps, some of which were related to news content or private networking.

A Daily Caller News Foundation analysis last year noted that in 2017, Apple admitted to removing hundreds of private network apps in China that allowed users to avoid detection by government censors. In 2018, Apple built a data center that complied with Beijing’s cyber security laws, which allowed the government to scoop up data on political dissidents.

Apple, which booked $21 billion in revenue from sales in China in its most recent quarter, has recently lobbied Congress to soften language in a bill aimed at forcing American companies to stop sourcing supplies from forced labor camps in Xinjiang, where the Chinese government houses millions of Muslim Uyghurs.

The Washington Post reported on Dec. 29 that Apple supplier Lens Technology uses Uyghur workers in its factories.

According to lobbying disclosures, Apple paid the firm Fierce Government Relations $90,000 to “educate policymakers” about the Uyghur bill.

Apple has denied relying on slave labor in its supply chain, and has said that it conducts routine audits of its suppliers in China and other countries.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment about Cook’s latest remarks.

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