In two letters, a bipartisan group of lawmakers sharply criticized Apple and Blizzard over their recent actions in China.
“Strong concern” over Apple’s decision
The first, addressed to Apple CEO Tim Cook, expresses “strong concern” over the company’s decision to remove an app used by Hong Kong protesters from its App Store. The app, called HKMap, tracked police presence and was used by pro-democracy activists, but was removed earlier this month after Apple claimed it was being used for criminal activity. The app’s developers said there was no evidence of that, and Apple has been slammed for the move.
“Cases like these raise real concern about whether Apple and other large US corporate entities will bow to growing Chinese demands rather than lose access to a billion Chinese consumers,” the letter says.
The letter was signed by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), and Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ).
The second letter, signed by some of the same lawmakers, was sent to Activision Blizzard CEO Robert Kotick, and similarly criticizes the company’s decision to ban a competitive Hearthstone player who voiced support for the Hong Kong protesters. The letter says the “disappointing decision could have a chilling effect on gamers who seek to use their platform to promote human rights and basic freedoms.”
The letters suggest the issue of Chinese censorship is one that both Democrats and Republicans are ready to rally behind, to the detriment of companies looking to operate in the country.
“You have the opportunity to reverse course,” the lawmakers wrote to Kotick. “We urge you to take it.”