When used within Russia, Apple’s Maps and Weather apps now list Crimea as being a Russian territory. The move, reported by BBC News, is the latest example of Apple kowtowing to a government’s demands to keep its devices and services in good standing. The company faced significant criticism in October for removing the Taiwanese flag emoji from the iOS keyboard in Hong Kong.
This latest change stems from Russia’s roundly condemned annexation of Crimea in 2014. It only applies when Crimea is viewed or searched for with Apple Maps inside Russia; elsewhere in the world, Crimea isn’t labeled as Russian territory.
BBC News says that Apple had been in talks with Russia for “several months” about this topic, and apparently, it was hoping to leave Crimea as being in undefined territory. But apparently, that approach didn’t satisfy Russia. “Crimea and Sevastopol now appear on Apple devices as Russian territory,” the State Duma said in a statement posted to its website, referring to Crimea’s former listing as an “inaccuracy” that was “finally removed.” As a result of the change, Apple Maps and Weather are now “in compliance with the requirements of the Russian legislation.” The Verge has asked Apple for comment on the situation.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has routinely defended Apple’s policy of adhering to regulations in all countries where it operates. “When you go into a country and participate in the market, you are subject to the laws and regulations of that country,” he said at a Fortune event in 2017. “You don’t bring the laws and regulations that you wish were there, that you want to be there. You have the laws and regulations of that country.”
“Each country in the world decides their laws and their regulations,” Cook said. “And so your choice is do you participate, or do you stand on the sideline and yell at how things should be? My view very strongly is you show up and you participate. You get in the arena, because nothing ever changes from the sideline.”
Earlier this month, Cook told ABC News that “China really hasn’t pressured us,” leading to more questions around why the company made the Taiwan flag decision.