A top FCC official accused Tim Cook of hypocrisy for talking up Apple's commitment to human rights while censoring apps in China

A top FCC official accused Tim Cook of hypocrisy for talking up Apple's commitment to human rights while censoring apps in China
Apple CEO Tim Cook.Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
  • FCC commissioner Brendan Carr ripped into Tim Cook in a letter to the Apple CEO published Wednesday.
  • Carr accused Cook of hypocrisy over recent comments about Apple's commitment to human rights.

A top Federal Communications Commission (FCC) official has ripped into Tim Cook, accusing the Apple CEO of hypocrisy for saying his company is committed to human rights.

In a letter to Cook published Wednesday, FCC commissioner Brendan Carr accused Apple of "doing the bidding of communist China" by removing apps from the App Store in China at the behest of Beijing.

Carr referred to a recent speech given by Cook in which the Apple CEO described privacy as "a fundamental human right" and said his company was committed to "protecting people from a data industrial complex built on a foundation of surveillance."

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In his letter, Carr told Cook that his comments in the speech "founder upon the harsh reality of your actions in China."

Carr's ire appeared to stem from Apple's decision to block the Voice of America app in China. Carr said the app was an important tool for people who wanted to obtain information uncensored by authoritarian regimes.


Carr said: "I would encourage Apple to evaluate its overall relationship with China, particularly its extensive manufacturing operations there, to ensure that these relationships reflect the global values Apple voices."

An Apple spokesperson told Insider in a statement: "Back in 2017, we were notified by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) that the Voice of America app did not comply with local laws because it lacked a license to operate in the country. We are required to comply with local laws where we do business, even though we may sometimes disagree."

The spokesperson said the Voice of America app is still available to download in other countries.

Apple has previously come under scrutiny for its operations in China. The Information reported in May 2021 that seven Apple suppliers in China had links to forced labor programs, some involving Uyghur Muslims from the Xinjiang region. Human rights groups have accused Beijing of persecuting Uyghur Muslims.

Cook said in November last year that Apple has a "responsibility" to do business everywhere it can, including in China.