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Google, Apple remove Navalny app from stores as Russian elections begin (reuters.com)
911 points by exizt88 on Sept 17, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 641 comments

Reuters doesn't report this, but the government officials threatened the companies (Apple and Google) with jail time for their employees yesterday. After that the companies finally conceded. There's a short video fragment from the meeting of the government officials and the companies representatives. It's worth watching, especially if you come from a democratic nation.

Letting your Russian employees be persecuted don't amount to "doing the right thing".

Except that by this point, all this is expected behaviour.

If companies don't want to be complicit in these crimes, they need to extricate themselves from the country and cut all ties.

If they do want to put profit ahead of everything else, then whatever, but you don't get to defend them as doing the right thing for their employees. They're enabling the whole situation.

[Edit to bring in a sister question] "Why don't Apple pull out of China then?" - because they put profit and cheap manufacturing ahead of their morals. And apparently we don't care enough that China effected a genocide while we watched.

> If they do want to put profit ahead of everything else, then whatever, but you don't get to defend them as doing the right thing for their employees. They're enabling the whole situation.

IMHO, cooperating with an authoritarian regime in this way should be illegal, sort of like a sanctions violation. Cook and Pachai should go to jail for this. That consequence might clarify their thinking a little.


Withdraw the app and you go to jail. Don’t withdraw the app and your Russian employees go to jail

Fire your Russian employees.

Then withdraw.

Hurts but if history should learn us a thing or two one of them should be not to give in to dictators.

The younger ones here are allowed to take a few minutes off to use their favorite search engine to look up the quote "peace in our time" by Chamberlain.


It looks so simple the way I wrote it above. Please note that doing the right thing isn't easy. Telling lots of people their job is gone. Telling investors the money invested in one of the most promising markets is gone etc etc.

But I am afraid that sooner or later the alternative will be worse.

> Fire your Russian employees.

More like move them to a better place if they prefer this to simply terminating the contract. Benefits are numerous - retain already-hired quality personnel, have a good PR campaign about being moral and holy and doing the extra mile with bureaucracy (which would be true), grow some extra hairy balls overnight. Or something similar.

Good points.

Russia unlike certain others probably won't torture their loved ones because of this.

Of course, if they ever go back to Russia, they risk prosecution. Rather rough deal.

“Leave and never be able to visit your family for as long as the current regime lasts” is a tough call. People do do that, but the pain of remaining has to be very high to make the tradeoffs palatable.

Pavel Durov knows a bit of this I heard.

He doesn't. He regularly visited Saint Petersburg office after being "exiled".

It won't be worse for either Cook or Pichai though.

Option 3: choose to make less money and don't have offices in countries with human rights records as bad as russia. I know this isn't realistic, because we can't expect a company to make less money. that'd be crazy!

Surely option 4 is the best option - the US government issues a list of countries within which no US business can have any operations or sales. Better than leaving it to individual companies.

Don’t forget to write up your list and start lobbying your congressional representative

No - this is elementary game theory. By precommitting to "if I withdraw the app I will go to jail", then the Russian threat would become ineffective and they wouldn't make it to begin with.

Granted, the real world is more complicated but this is equivalent of using the strategy of disabling your steering wheel before playing a game of chicken.

It's not a game of chicken. Russia is well prepared to collide - did that many times. Threats won't work - actually jailing important Russians abroad for supporting Russian organizations under sanctions will.

Direct action is the primary working approach here.

For those reasons Google and Apple should be considered aiding and abetting Russian government now. Not quite illegal as of now - but how well it looks?

> Google and Apple [are] aiding and abetting Russian government now. Not quite illegal … - but how well it looks?

Meh, no quite as bad as the US quietly making Russia its second largest supplier of oil, no?

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-08-04/russia-ca...

If you want to starve Crazy Ivan of his forex…

The only winning move is not to play (i.e. don't have offices in authoritarian states)

Bingo. Those who do have offices should also feel heat from unfair competition, so this should be legalized somehow.

The irony here is that your idea sounds pretty authoritarian!

I agree. All US companies should be required to fully withdraw from countries with active dictatorships.

Unfortunately, US companies have lost all trace of ethics. Most product companies now have planned obsolence, and use regulatory capture and abusive patents to grow revenues rather than putting customers first.

We are truly in the twilight of the free market.

I do not support Cook and Pachal getting arrested over submitting to Putin over their employees being held hostage, but they should definitely pull Apple and Google out of Russia and Communist China. US government should help out, at least by prohibiting US citizens from traveling to these regions without a special exception. Should be easy to do during the pandemic anyway, beats me why the government is so weak about it.

'authoritarian regime' is a slippery slope. There can be clear human violations, but at what point does a government become authoritarian? USA has plenty of violations on its shoulders, perhaps complicit in many others. I would not call it authoritarian but it has been repressive (Citing USA as a clear example, not picking on particular politics). Genocide is distinctively clear from freedom of expression, so by no means should this be constructed to justify that. A war has many battles, so perhaps in this case there would be compromises. Why these companies are working with China needs a deeper discussion.

Why do you always bring up USA when people are talking about injustices in other countries?

Every time.

They could be simply paid opinions.

Assumablely in this hypothetical, it would be the USA arresting Cook and Pachai, no?

If you mean discussions at HN then that may be because folks here are mostly Americans who are interested in and aware of things in their country like any other nation. As a Russian (concluded from your post history), don't you see the same thing in Russian communities?

Define "authoritarian regime"

Just because there are shades of grey, doesn’t mean we can’t tell black from white.

I am not convinced that we can tell black from white.

I also think that there ought to be a certain level of relativism when it comes to judging political systems.

Is it democratic that an unelected group of 9 people can unilaterally essentially decide the law of the land in the US?

>Is it democratic that an unelected group of 9 people can unilaterally essentially decide the law of the land in the US?

Are republican (little r) systems inherently authoritarian in your view?

Do you actually fear that SCOTUS is going to start imposing some sort of autocratic control over American government? I'm not. You probably aren't either. There are institutional explanations for this.

I would describe qualified immunity as starkly autocratic, and it was written whole-cloth by the supreme court.

I actually consider myself a staunch (little r) republican.

That said, Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy (a seminal republican text) was quite clear that republican mixed government does involve mixing a bit of democracy with a bit of authoritarianism/autocracy. I do think it is "authoritarian", but I don't think it is necessarily bad.

My question is merely: why can we extend this sort of support to mixed government in our country, but seemingly consider many of the other forms of mixed government in action as pure authoritarian tyranny?

How is the US constitutional system remotely relevant in this discussion?

Because every political system has elements of "authoritarianism"/decisions being made by unelected officials.

For instance, we often criticize Iran as being authoritarian, but compared to many of our allies elsewhere, Iran is actually relatively democratic, even if they have authoritarian "checks" just like we do with the Supreme Court.

I have a hard time understanding what you mean about Iran:


Seems like a dictatorship to me.

it's an excellent question which your reply doesn't address.

There's black and white with grey in between. Whether you report the shades of grey as black or white depends on who you ask and what is offered for comparison.

Is india an authoritarian regime? You'll find plenty of evidence going both ways. What about Belarus? Hungary? Venezuela?

The grey is precisely why having yes/no binaries like this leads to more confusion.

> Define "authoritarian regime"

A simple rule of thumb definition (that could probably use some refinement) is regimes that are either explicitly anti-democratic or a sham democracy. Russia certainly falls into the latter category, as this very story demonstrates.

In most cases, it's not that hard.

Where does the US MSM and social media refusing to cover anything about Hunter Biden put us?

US MSM did cover hunter Biden extensively. Fox and other right wing propaganda stations are still a part of the MSM.

Mind you, every other station covered it heavily too. The sitting president was impeached over the hunter Biden story

> Where does the US MSM and social media refusing to cover anything about Hunter Biden put us?

I'm not a huge fan of Joe Biden (as you can probably infer from my comments here https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28550896), but the Hunter Biden stuff was a shameless distraction with no real substance.

So to answer your question: if the US MSM and social media was required to run smears of a sitting president against his opponent, the US would be far closer to being a sham democracy.

>but the Hunter Biden stuff was a shameless distraction with no real substance.

Uh, that's really not a strong affirmative justification for taking active measures to stop people from using your platform to share a story. And of course the real problem is not simply that the story was suppressed, but that we all know that media platforms do not in fact have a blanket policy against reporting on "shameless distractions with no real substance", and that this sort of post-hoc rationalizing of obvious partisan bias is intellectually insulting.

They do have policies against spreading misinformation.

Yes, and those policies are not evenly applied. That's the issue. iirc Twitter caught some flak for initially justifying the suppression of the story based on the fact that it had come from "hacking" the laptop, and then only let up after it was pointed out that there were many other examples of stories like this that were not suppressed.

A presidential candidates crackhead son laundering payoffs from foreign governments is a distraction?

In our case the sham is that the MSM is independent from the political powers. It’s quite elegant really. And regardless of how transparent it is, roughly half the population will reliably believe the MSM is somehow impartial, because it tells them so.

Cognitive dissonance is a hell of a drug.


I have an easier solution that doesn’t require making a false moral choice.

Give your customers the ability to install their own software or app stores on the hardware that they own and paid for, without requiring a monopolistic walled garden. Of course, companies like Apple would never do this because they are far too greedy.

There is F-Droid but Navalny app is not on it https://search.f-droid.org/?q=Navalny&lang=en Android does also allow installing apps directly from APK. (Crapple separate issue.) Too bad Navalny team did not try to go open-source route.

They also could have just uploaded their database of candidates to Github.

Some of Americas closest allies are authoritarian regimes. Why would anyone expect profit moticated companies like Google or Apple to have higher moral standards than the elected representative US goverment where it operates from itself?

> Why would anyone expect profit moticated companies like Google or Apple to have higher moral standards than the elected representative US goverment where it operates from itself?

Because elected representatives are not moral authorities

Neither are major corporations.

Indeed a good point. Had the US elected representatives had better morals none of this would have ever happened. It would have been pre-empted decades ago. But we have no influence over their morals, only an ability to vote for or against them. Those elected by definition are the best people available. So if they don't have good morals that means the whole society does not have good morals. I suppose the best we can do is to try to have better morals ourselves and hope to positively influence the rest of society to make better moral choices...

All that is hard, and that's why evil like Putin prevails...

> Those elected by definition are the best people available.

If by "available", you mean political candidates, then yes. If you mean of the society in general, then no, quite the opposite, actually.

> So if they don't have good morals that means the whole society does not have good morals.

No, it means two of the worst people in the society (namely, the 'republican' candidate and the 'democratic' candidate) do not have good morals. This a slightly stronger measure than the society's minimum level of morals, but not by very much, and says nothing about average or about particular non-politician cases.

I think this distrust in democracy as a system to elect representative people to legislate and govern is widespread and to a certain degree based on facts, but also deeply worrying. In a way it signifies a failure of democracy.

> In a way it signifies a failure of democracy.

I'd say "demonstrates the", but... yes? Obviously?

Democracy worked well early on because institutions hadn't yet figured out how to exploit it, not because it had any inherent resistance to exploitation; now it's like Merkel-Damgaard hash functions[0]: it was always broken, but now we (and the attackers) know it's broken and are seeing the consequences.

0: eg, MD5, SHA-1

At least those are "allies" and not existential threats.

Where does that stop though? I agree with you, but I don’t see how the basic observe-eval-withdraw loop ever terminates.

Or put from a flip side… Building apps in highly democratic Norway just for Norwegians to use because they’re the best democracy (for example) doesn’t make enough money to feed my family. So why do anything at all?

The fact that you have to draw the line somewhere is not an argument for not drawing a line somewhere.

Indeed. Can you say that the parties involved do not have lines? Everyone has lines, they’re just not always visible.

My point that the observe-eval-withdraw loop is difficult to terminate is not meant to argue we shouldn’t run the loop, but rather how difficult it is to code the withdraw conditions. As I tried to allude to in the second paragraph, you have to balance out the withdraw conditions with the pragmatic need to let the loop get some worthwhile work done.

How about using the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a score sheet? 30 Articles there. I doubt there are many countries that score a perfect-30 but is Russia even in double-figures?

I agree, there's some arbitrary hand-wringing to be done to work out where to draw the line, but doing nothing while you're paralysed trying to decide what pencil to use, seems just as bad as going along with the acts in the first place.


I would believe this is way more complicated, even if set the profit apart.

Arguably having access to technology is important for the regular citizen, even under less democratic countries. There is the privacy angle, and also if you have an Android monopoly it becomes easier for the government to exploit/enforce what they want. You don't help people to understands the benefits of participating on a democracy, or even fighting to have a democracy by withdrawing and hiding what democracies around the world are able to produce and manufacture. Withdrawing the apps as required by government censorship is just one of the battles lost, but not the entire benefit Apple presence has.

All this is certainly expected behavior. If companies don't want to be complicit in these crimes, then they need to remove themselves from keeping remote power over devices that are purportedly sold to end users. Dell doesn't get flack for what Debian chooses to put in their repositories. And when Debian itself gets bullied (eg decss and other video codecs), even-less-exposed organizations can create another repository that coexists with the main one.

This is the kind of moral framework that creates cancel culture. Pulling out from Russia will decrease many Russian's standard of living, but will have zero impact in stopping them from rigging elections. If everyone cuts trade for moral reasons, then there's no incentive for us not to point nukes at each other again.

It would have a negative impact. The Russian government would be very glad to ban platforms like Google even though Google cooperates with them because it would help to control the population even more. Google discloses emails after request? A local social network will monitor every message for them. Youtube removes a video when it's already viral? A local video platform will ban the channel before it gets views.

Yes. Yes. Maybe. Similarly unknown.

In this case we're talking about propping up the existing Russian government who actively interfere in democracy around the world, assassinate political enemies and draw immense influence from the fear it spreads around it. Yeah, sure, why wouldn't we want to keep that going as long as we can?

Because it will end one day. Putin isn't Russia's greatest love machine. When that day comes, all the instability you'd blame on me and my ideals will rain down on us all anyway.

If you want to reduce my reasoned moral objections to "cancel culture", I'm sure you're somebody's hero, but yes, I think we should demand better from the companies we fund. Russia's instability is inevitable, either way.

We only have a limited bandwidth for action. While I don't think that everyone should be hyper-utilitarian and focus all of our effort on distributing antimalarial medication like Bill Gates is doing, you need to have some threshold of ROI if you want a proposal to be taken seriously. For example, the US government values a human life at $10 million dollars.

> This is the kind of moral framework that creates cancel culture.

Cancel culture means a lot of different things to different people. You might want to clarify your interpretation here.

> Russia will decrease many Russian's standard of living, but will have zero impact in stopping them from rigging elections.

Wow, this was a mental leap. So by giving into already established corruption of government officials in Russia, you're making it better for Russians standard of living by further having a corrupt government? I don't know how you reached this conclusion. There are thousands of businesses in Russia (and probably hundreds that are large and US centric), but only one government. One company pulling out is hardly going to make a dent in providing jobs in a country as large as Russia.

> If everyone cuts trade for moral reasons, then there's no incentive for us not to point nukes at each other again.

So, you're implying that if we didn't have global trade then nations would fight more? I don't think I've ever heard this interpretation before - care to elaborate?

> If everyone cuts trade for moral reasons, then there's no incentive for us not to point nukes at each other again.

I don't agree with OP but this is actually a pretty common talking point around the benefits of globalization. If you depend on some other country for some essential resource (e.g. natural gas) you're less likely to want to go to war with them because it would be quite inconvenient to suddenly have half your population freezing in the winter.

Here's some research from Cato that shows that trade interdependence generally promotes peace https://www.cato.org/research-briefs-economic-policy/does-tr...

Bullshit. The Russians won’t be able to stop using iPhones, and with Apple out of Russia, the OS can be free from Russian influence.

If Apple didn't bend the knee, Russia could block its banks doing business with Apple, as well as simply blocking their networks.

Russia has a lot of power to flex against its own citizens.

And leave its citizens with what alternative? The smartphone OS duopoly is stronger than one authoritarian little shit.

"If I don't become complicit, somebody else will be. Might as well do it myself."

I haven't decided if I agree with the comment you're replying to, but this isn't a fair summary of it. Either engage with it or don't but posting a caricature doesn't exactly raise the level of debate around here.

Citing "cancel culture" as the final boss doesn't start us in a place of elevation.

Good point. I glazed over that. But still...

Pulling out of Russia might have zero immediate impact on stopping Putin rigging elections which are rigged anyway, but it would definitely reduce his and his mafia's wealth and power, thereby helping bring about the inevitable regime change sooner, and in a less turbulent way.

Casually suggesting that Apple should pull out from all authoritarian countries is both funny and naive

That is what I think, but that's not the point of my post.

The part you're reading around is the people here defending Apple and Google's behaviour, because they're just doing what's right for their employees.

Doing what's right for Apple and Google's employees is not setting up offices in front of Russia's loaded gun, which we've only known about for… hundreds of years. Apple and Google put their employees at risk. They don't get points for doing more bad things to further delay that risk (and feed the machine that made that enables the risk).

My naïveté is certainly worth considering, but we're all so wilfully blind to atrocities. It was one thing to let another country beat up its citizens and attempt to sanction them, but now we're each personally entangling our lives with companies that aid and abet. We have to demand better.

Im just saying you cannot just pull out and work remote in a country wide situation and with the scale of Apple. There will be much more effects, maybe I’m paranoid in that sense.

I'm also naive, and regardless, fully in agreement with you.

The benchmark here is employee threats. China does not threaten Apple employees located in their country, nor do many other authoritarian countries. I don't think it's unreasonable to pull out of countries that present clear and present dangers to your workforce.

Apple would pull out of China if their sales dropped 50% because they wouldn't.

Cutting all possible connections with China is counter-productive to de-escalating tensions with them and integrating them into a rules-based system.

Here is an article that mentions the threat of jailing employees: https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2021/09/17/apple-google-delet...

It's all about Navalny's tactic of 'smart voting', where they are picking candidates from parties other than the 'United Russia' party of Putin, in an attempt to bring in members of parliament who would not be in exact alignment with the politics of Putin. These candidates are often not even in open opposition to Putin, and that is currently the worst opposition and nightmare of the Russian government...


Pull out of the countries then.

Participating in dictatorship is barely better than refusing to do so if that dictatorship will falsely imprison your employees.

> Pull out of the countries then.

Then why Apple hasn't pulled out of China? Like 2 decades ago? China was always a brutal dictatorship. Why would they pull out of anything? These company profit from bloody dictatorships, like the rest of the western economy. But somehow when it's about Russia it's a problem? The hypocrisy in the west must stop. The west and it's industry never stood for freedom abroad since it decided that business is more important than democracy in the rest of the world, basically when the west accepted China in the WTO.

> Participating in dictatorship is barely better than refusing to do so if that dictatorship will falsely imprison your employees.

Tell that to Apple in China, a country that is literally using slave workforce from concentration camps. But Russia is where people here start being outraged?

> But Russia is where people here start being outraged?

It's entirely possible that the same people are _also_ outraged by Apple's business in China.

Indeed, it's the exact same issue, and the behavior of these companies is as cynical and wrong in Russia, China, and any and all other places where they act this way.

I agree. And if they weren't, I get tired of arguments on the merits of argument "B" that states because "A" is wrong, you cannot point out that "B" is wrong too.

The danger is the mentality that we should not solve any single problem unless we can solve all of the problems. Pointing out the hypocrisy to invalidate the argument can lead to inaction.

>The west and it's industry never stood for freedom abroad since it decided that business is more important than democracy in the rest of the world, basically when the west accepted China in the WTO.

I'd say it was long long before that. The US replaced a democratically elected leader with a dictatorship at the behest of a fruit company to give one example and it has had plenty such business influenced examples preceding and following it.

>Tell that to Apple in China

It ain't quite done to separatists but is it surprising? It's ok even when a lot less money is involved and it happens locally.: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28286853

Good point, good point. The recent NordStream deal was disgusting. Unfortunately Western morals are only marginally better than those of the tyrants that Western politicians sell out to.

I suppose whoever cares enough for Western morals to improve needs to try to sell out a little less themselves.

In fairness, people have been asking Apple and Google (plus many other western businesses) to pull out of China for a long time. The point your making isn't something new nor overlooked.

But Google did pull out of China, did that improve the situation in China? Meanwhile Apple makes billions in China and barely anyone says anything. If you're Google you're looking at that like a raw deal.

Yes Google pulling out instead of censoring search results and spying on users for the government made things better for people in China.

Apple scan your photos. Tells you what apps you are allowed to install and charges you extra for all of that. Whatever type of person is left on the platform is more likely to be going through stockholm syndrome and wouldn't be in a situation to make a political statement.

Every cloud service that holds your photos in a non-e2ee way (read: Google, FB, et. Al.) scans your photos. They’re all afraid of the .gov accusing them of holding illegal content.

This again.

None of them do that on my device, that I paid with my money. No cloud service wastes my CPU cycles and batteries to report me to authorities.

It's apples to oranges, sorry for the pun. Please stop comparing what Google, MS and Dropbox do to what Apple planned to do.

I can relate to that, for sure. I also dislike the idea of having my personal property used to spy on me. The battery impact, the potentially degraded performance, and the overall creep factor. I dislike it all.

However, that was not what the parent stated. They said "Apple scan your photos.", to which I replied everyone else does as well. Because they do.

> Yes Google pulling out instead of censoring search results and spying on users for the government made things better for people in China.

Did it? In what way? Does Google not censor results in the United States at the behest of the US government? Does it not spy on users at the best of the US govt?

Does Google censor in the US the same way they were required to in China? No.

Google censor based on court rulings, user requests from Europe, national security certicates. Google follows the law where it operates which is why they stopped in China.

Google doesn't spy on behalf the government. The government monitors all traffic via under the sea cables and at all major backbone datacenters. The cellphone location beacon you carry around does.

Actually, no.

Page and Brinn started Google with the intention to improve the world. They weren't short of money, so not being part of what China was doing was productive, even if it did not make cash.

I know plenty of people that are driven by things other than money, and its not a raw deal at all.

Of course, after that, Google went Evil Incarnate so now there is no logic for them to be out of China.

Google didn't entirely pull out of China, they just terminated their product lines that were unsuccessful in China.

I was also just posting a fact that people have made the same calls for China, not my personal opinion about whether we "should" discontinue services with China. On that last point, I'm honestly undecided.

That's just an outright lie. The product they pulled was search. According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_China it had a 36% search market share.

It’s not about whether it improves the situation in China or not. It’s about having consistent principles as a company.

I know you are the pro-Russia person, but the pro-China people say the same things when folks like me consistently criticize large companies and celebrities for the same reason.

Please assume good faith here.

I posted a sibling comment to your about Russia and the general point. I'll try not to repeat myself but China is very close to my heart as my wife is Chinese and therefore so is half of my family.

My wife's father's family were brutally oppressed by the Communists. To this day he gets upset, and I've seen him burst into tears when talking about what they did to some of his relatives in the 50s and 60s. This is the toughest guy I've ever known.

None of my Chinese relatives, no matter how deeply they oppose the government, thinks Apple should not sell them iPhones because of anything the CCP does. When Apple pulled VPN apps in China they blamed the CCP, not Apple. None of them think refusing to trade with china is in Chinese citizens best interests. This is why I think I can gauge how Russians probably think about this though I have no experience of Russia.

Good anecdata. I am from Russia, and was personally oppressed (fortunately, only by restriction of freedoms) for the exact thing the app in question was trying to achieve (e.g. getting someone else win elections).

I'd rather Apple and Google pulled from Russia precisely because people there do not feel responsible for the acts of their government, which makes them (and now also Google and Apple) complicit.

In my opinion the people in question are simply choosing the bad strategy in prisoner's dilemma.

That's fair, and I appreciate the counterpoint. There is a mess of conflicting issues in something like this.

> None of them think refusing to trade with china is in Chinese citizens best interests.

Well, then is it a matter of principle for western democracies or not? Meanwhile, the west is financing the CCP.

There are definitely principles at stake. We should not work with or support oppressive activities themselves. Western countries selling gear to be used in the great firewall is a disgrace. Selling software tools to be used in censorship is also despicable. We should check supply chains to exclude forced labour to the best of our ability.

>Tell that to Apple in China, a country that is literally using slave workforce from concentration camps.


> Federal statute 19 U.S.C. 1307 prohibits the importation of merchandise produced, wholly or in part, by convict labor, forced labor, and/or indentured labor under penal sanctions, including forced or indentured child labor

I'm confused how this is distinguished from the conditions of domestic textile workers in the US?

Doesn't seem to take much Googling to find some reputable looking sources...

> China uses Uyghur forced labour to make solar panels, says report


> There’s a good chance your cotton T-shirt was made with Uyghur slave labor... Much of the world’s cotton comes from the Uyghur region, where the Chinese government is ethnically cleansing its Muslim minority. Fashion conglomerates know this


> Despite having initially denied the existence of camps, authorities later described them as “vocational training” centres. Nevertheless, satellite imagery indicated that an increasing number of camps continued to be built throughout the year.


EDIT: I was confused by the downvotes given that the above aren't exactly fringe outlets. I imagine people may be conflating the mention of "Apple" and "slave labour" in the parent comment. I'm not supporting the idea that Apple are using slave labour in China - I have no idea on that front. (And if you reread the parent it's not necessarily what they were suggesting either.) The sources above merely seem to show that there are reports in general of forced labour and forced detention in China. That said... this was the result of quick first-page Googling and I'm admittedly pretty ignorant on this topic.

Even Navalny and his supporters are not calling for foreign companies to all pull out of Russia. What makes you think you know better what is good for the Russian people and the opposition groups than Russians and the opposition groups themselves?

How many of Russia's Apple employees think Apple is "participating in dictatorship" by employing them? How many Russian citizens, including the political opposition, do you think blame Apple or Google for participating in dictatorship by selling them phones and providing them with services? Maybe a few take such an extreme view, but it certainly doesn't seem to be a common attitude for Russian opponents of Putin.

The actual problem is not that Apple removed the app. It's that there is no other way to install the app if Apple removes it from their store.

I disagree. I think the problem is that Apple is choosing to support dictators by removing this app.

The ability to side load apps is a smokescreen because only 1% of people would use any alternate means.

So even if they had alternate app stores, Apple removing it from the main App Store is egregious.

Similar to how it’s terrible that Google removed it even though it’s available in alternate stores.

(Of course Apple should allow sideloading and other app stores)

> I disagree. I think the problem is that Apple is choosing to support dictators by removing this app.

Is he still a dictator if he would win contested elections?

The polling on Putin in Russia is pretty darn clearcut, don't see how you can look at the numbers I do and conclude anything other than that Putin has the tacit support of most of the population.

Take a look at the Soviet bloc elections. They won by big margins through voter suppression and much more.

Castro was elected for what, 50 years. He was definitely a dictator.

There was (is) voter suppression in the US and the civil rights movement directly worked to overturn polls that showed that only white governors and mayors in the south will win.

I don’t think Russian polls can be interpreted fairly to mean Putin has the tacit support of most of the population. Putin’s opponents are jailed and they are billionaires. If I get a poll, I’m not going to answer honestly due to fear.

I can't imagine how such an app could be in any way complicated. Why is it not just a website?

Thanks. Honestly though I'm surprised, I would have thought blocking specific HTTPS websites wasn't so easy.

HTTPS reveals domain, only subdomain/folder is encrypted.

The domain is still typically passed unencrypted with HTTPS

Why wouldn’t they just force other app stores to pull the app too?

Such as F-Droid?

Any reason they can’t just block the site? Is F-Droid a good option for this kind of mobile app?

I guess you can say they wind up playing whack-a-mole with new App Store and websites but that doesn’t seem ideal either. Russians can plant something too.

And Google removed it too. So are users downloading it now from 3rd-party app stores?

Longer Streisand effect

The problem is that everyone is now talking about the app and the prisoner. Good luck putting the genie back in the bottle.

Are you trying to appeal, that because majority of people believe something contrary to the opinion of the parent comment, he is wrong?

What makes you think they know better, than him?

> How many of Russia's Apple employees

I don't think there is any: Apple has never operated in Russia directly and I doubt there are employees working remotely from Russia.

Apple likely does not have engineers, designers, or execs in Russia… but they have Russian Apple stores etc. whom are all Apple employees.

> What makes you think you know better what is good for the Russian people and the opposition groups than Russians and the opposition groups themselves?

Because if regime's economy collapses, the regime will collapse sooner.

Collapsing economies simply make autocrats double down even harder on autocracy. North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, Zimbabwe. There are numerous examples of this. It simply multiplies the misery.

Why is this even relevant? You always have to keep heads of your enemies down. That's basic common sense.

Dictatorships are the enemies of the Free World. Or, do you think they are friends, perhaps?

They are your enemies, and you keep their economies ruined.

-1 Point for faiure to distinguish between the mobsters in charge and general population

-1 point for dillusional idea that cuba is an enemy or a threat to the us or anyone fir that matter

-1 point fir lack of self-reflection on how free we are becoming

-1 point for cruelty

I am not cruel, I am a follower of strong humanist beliefs. Life in shit is worse than death, way worse. I will at least give people a choice of two. If you force people to live in shit, just so they can live, you are cruel.

I am very reflective. I see the West turning into a serial facilitator of rogue, and fascist regimes for some "special relationships." If they deserve fire for that, I think they really should. It's been 20 years since 9/11, and USA is still sucking up to the Saudi Regime for really nothing of benefit — this is what I will call a real lack of self-reflection.

Cuba is not a threat, but it very much will be if you leave its neck out of your hands for a second. The Cuban state is the biggest threat to Cuban people. Thank them for good healthcare, but then smack them good for near starving their people despite Cuba being chock full of agricultural land for a country of 10M, inventing silly excuses for it, and jailing anybody pointing a finger on that.

I see the mob in charge, very much see. I personally knew people who lost all their livelihood to having their business robbed, and seized. The general population don't want you, the West to keep feeding Putin's bottomless mouth. They are not idiots. They see every gram of food the West gives the regime, the regime uses to grow bigger, and stronger, and then bite, and rob them even more.

Actually that's a reasonable point, sure. My counter is that it should be proportionate. North Korea? Absolutely, they're the absolute bottom of the barrel. Full economic sanctions are reasonable, I think we both agree.

China and Russia are not like North Korea though. Citizens generally enjoy a considerable degree of freedom of movement, economic freedoms and even rights to travel abroad. To the extent that these rights are curtailed or refused we should apply increasing degrees of pressure. In fact I think we don't apply enough pressure, particularly to China. There's a lot more we could do. What we should do is emphasise that crimes such as the oppression of the Uighurs should have consequences, and we're not doing that enough right now.

I'm particularly concerned about China's application to join the Asia-Pacific trade pact, the CPTPP. The association was founded by the US in order to form a united front against China, but the US pulled out in 2017. So we now face a real possibility a trade pact intended to contain China will end up helping China contain US economic influence in the region. Nice one.

Absolute bans and boycotts are simply not appropriate though, they would disproportionately hurt ordinary Chinese, including those under the worst oppression and would help China promote a nationalistic us versus them attitude. It would also remove any ability to apply increasing pressure to any further oppressive moves because we'd have no pressure left to apply. So I fully agree with the principle, you're quit right these regimes are our enemy, but not the all-or-nothing implementation.

Regime collapse doesn't mean something better will replace it. Russia collapsed end of the 80s, but what replaced it leaves a lot to be desired...

Well, yes. But for Russia's former satellite states things definitely improved.

I think you cherry-picked here. You are thinking about the Baltics and forgetting about places like Uzbekistan (now broke) and Kazakhstan (rich but authoritarian). And even if you say these are former republics rather than satellites, think of the mess that is Serbia.

The fall of the USSR may have been overall a good thing and even inevitable, as with any huge disruption it was not an unequivocal good thing for every single person.

> I think you cherry-picked here. You are thinking about the Baltics and forgetting about places like Uzbekistan

The parent did not cherry pick, they didn't go far enough. It was overwhelmingly positive regardless of Kazakhstan or Serbia.

East Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Czechia, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria.

Estonia represses 7% of its population.

It represses it so much, that the repressed ethnic Russians gang up, and go lighting up the Russian embassy from time to time, as a gratitude for Mr. Putin's attempts at "liberating" them.

We are probably talking about two different 7% of people.

Your comment is also beside the point. Russia is likely no better than Estonia. It does not mean Estonia is not worse than other EU countries, including former members of USSR.

East Germany, Baltics, Poland, Romania and many others.

> huge disruption it was not an unequivocal good thing for every single person.

I think even in the Central Asian North Korea — Uzbekistan, a person now lives more freely, and richer than the wealthiest USSR citizens did.

Have you ever googled, bro?

>> After the collapse of the USSR, economic reforms were not fully implemented in Uzbekistan, conditions for the development of medium and small businesses were not created, corruption took root, and unemployment increased. Many wonder: if it is better now than in the past, why have about two to five million Uzbek citizens left their country in search of work?

via bbs.com (!!!) https://www.bbc.com/russian/international/2014/10/141015_uzb...

.. and where do you think they migrated to, from their country that is on its way to Middle Ages? To Putin's dark regime's Russia, nowhere else, working there as construction and road workers etc.

You've got a good chance to compare your reality with real reality, my friend.

> Have you ever googled, bro?

I didn't, but I know this better than you.

Uzbekistan, a North Korea redux it be, but you can

1. now get a coca cola there.

2. food is on the shelves, including meat

3. buy property, instead of being shot for doing so

4. leave the country, back in USSR there were no option to go work anywhere as a construction worker to earn real cash.

If you really like your USSR wonderland communist paradise, please go. The immigration route to North Korea, or Cuba is open for you.

All those Uzbeks shot for buying property should rise from the grave and haunt you for being such a troll. Must be millions of them. You should be very afraid. But maybe a Coca Cola mist will keep them at bay? Maybe if you chant Adam Smith's name while you do it?

In post cold war Europe it was mostly the case. Russia is a lot less of a threat to the world, and its own citizens. I for one could freely leave Russia, which would require non-trivial effort in USSR.

And it did, because the West left half way, and never backed Yelzin at finally dismantling the system.

It was critical.

And after he had his second stroke, he was a walking vegetable basically, and the opportunity was lost.

You are very demoralised.

And then we likely have a pure dictatorship with the worlds second biggest nuclear arsenal and thousands of Russians will likely die from things like starvation and being killed by the new regime (or the old while it dies). No-one wins by killing off a regime. That is "let's bomb this country into democracy" thinking.

It is a pure dictatorship for a while now.

I come from a 3rd world dictatorship country.

I don't really think that'd help. It'd further isolate those countries, making them more and more authoritarian and less and less educated.

Google pulling out of any country for help democracy either.

Interested in your thoughts on what would help? From your point of view?

I'll try my best, but obviously these are just my thoughts and a lot of other people don't necessarily agree with me.

I think all authoritarian governments rely on a chunk of their population to stay in power. This population can be very small, but sufficient.

In order to maintain their popularity they rely on:

1. Lack of education

2. Strong propaganda

3. Poverty

4. Social welfare

5. Religion & ideology

6. Fear of enemy

Within their target demographics.

So, they will end up with chunks of population who are uneducated, poor, strongly reliant on government welfare that are actually thankful for the government for their social welfare and cultural/religious alignment.

The pro-democracy people are usually middle class citizens. How do you fight uneducated, religiously/culturally motivated people with tame middle class citizens? It's not doable. That's why Taliban takes control of Afghanistan.

The only thing that I've seen work is this:

1. You try to keep communications alive with population. Google leaving a country? There couldn't be anything worse.

2. You incentivize government/regimes to stay as open as possible.

3. You wait decades for paradigm shifts within populations.

As for #1, let me give you an example. ~25 years ago I was 7. I lived in Iran. There was no internet. TV & Radio are government controlled and the country was too poor for people to travel abroad.

The _only_ thing that kept us connected to the outside world was... soccer.

Iranian state TV would broadcast a few soccer games a week (not live). For a massive chunk of the population, the only way to see there are _other_ type of people, not name Ali, Hussain, Muhammed, etc, and instead named Alessandro, Paolo, David, whatever, was soccer. Something simple like this can really keep the mind open. Allows you to realize there are other ways.

Fast forward a few years, a "reform" government was in place. The regime was relatively incentivized to talk to the US. Thus, they allowed Internet. The reform government allowed music and film to flourish again. As a result of economic growth a lot of Iranians were traveling abroad (from Turkey and Dubai to all over Europe) and as a result the middle class got more and more "western".

Fast forward to Donald Trump leaving the JCPOA, putting a "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran.

The economy went to shit (it's really a humanitarian crisis now). The government, scared of riots, locked everything down. All European brands/companies have left the country and the government is pushing to close down internet altogether.

A decade ago Iranians were pushing for democracy (Green Movement). Now, their only concern is survival. There is no hope anymore. The population is getting poorer and poorer, less and less educated.

So my question after this story is, do you think Google leaving Russia will end up helping Russians get more educated, more wealthy, more connected to the free world?

Or would it push them to the direction of poverty, isolation and disconnect?

Iran 10 years ago (before maximum pressure campaign by the republicans) was on the path to be something like Turkey. Not totally free, but somewhat OK ish country. Now it's on the path to be another North Korea (if this direction continues for another 15-20 years)

Sorry this wasn't a well written, well thought piece. It was an anecdotal dump of thoughts, but hopefully I managed to make a point.

Very interesting writeup.

Now I'm left wondering, what do we imagine google to be in russia when we say google should pull out?

Do we imagine that all of google will be blocked because they would no longer respond to russia's requests? Or maybe because act of pulling out is a political statement in on itself?

If google was the only connection to the western world, surely that would be different than if google was just one of many connections to the western world?

Maybe it's a slippery slope.

A bit unrelated, it seems like free satellite internet independent from state using smuggled phones could help. Maybe it's optimistic and naive, but I imagine it would be similar to getting illegal music and sharing that with your friends.

When the parent is asking for Google to leave Russia, that implies any given company in the same situation should, which would certainly be in the direction of limiting country's communication with the outside world and create more hostility between the nations.

Your assessment may be true for Iran, but I don't think they can be applied to Russia:

1. Russia has very high education -- it's ranked 3rd in the world in terms of people who attend college/university.

2. Russia is a 2nd-world country, so they don't suffer from extreme poverty.

3. Russians aren't very religious.

If Google leaves there wouldn't be much difference in terms of people accessing information on the web because most Russians already use Yandex for web search anyway.

But more importantly, the Russian government is already pushing to replaced foreign tech with Russian alternatives. They're pressuring Russian companies to switch to using local internet services, software, and they've supposedly developed the ability to "disconnect" Russian internet from the rest of open internet. So, if/when they're ready, they will do so. So, I think the point I'm trying to make is that the internet as a platform for information isn't some sort of catalyst for democracy. Russian people are smart and educated, but the authoritarian regime is as strong as it has ever been.

If google leaves and is replaced by a local alternative, Mr Putin's people will be directly monitoring and actively taking action in response to the things communicated there. Which leaves the population in a worse place than before.

> So my question after this story is, do you think Google leaving Russia will end up helping Russians get more educated, more wealthy, more connected to the free world?

Maybe, if the alternative is them cooperating with the dictator government for more effective surveillance and enforcement? Google from 2021 isn't Google from 2006.

I mean, 20 years ago I'd 100% agree with you, but modern-day big tech is... yikes! The only thing it'll do is prevent the emergence and spread of more open (and certainly harder to track) tech.

So the choices are:

1. A western company that has to abide to Russian's unlawful and immoral requests time to time

2. A Russian company, which either belongs to the state, or is fully controlled by the state, or has absolutely 0 power against the state.

You choose 2?

Another way of looking at it for me is this:

If, one day, Iran and US governments allow Google to operate in Iran, that'd be a step forward. It's true that Google _may_ have to bow to Iran's regime from time to time. It's also true that Google may _want_ to help Iran's regime from time to time (due to whatever interest) but their interest is not 100% aligned. It's only sometimes aligned.

That, next to all the benefits of Google operating in Iran, would definitely make me choose 1.

Both of these would only serve to amplify the power of Iranian government many fold. And there is no "maybe" and no "time to time". We're talking the de-facto tools of surveillance capitalism here. When their interests aren't aligned with Iranian government, they'd be aligned with American government, and the latter is what brought upon you the former in the first place.

To be honest, I think that tech has no solution for you, and that you're only looking there because tech's what you're good at.

> Both of these would only serve to amplify the power of Iranian government many fold. And there is no "maybe" and no "time to time". We're talking the de-facto tools of surveillance capitalism here.

Your argument is definitely compelling - I share the distrust in the way things are going with “surveillance capitalism” as you call it, but, is there a risk of being too binary here?

For example, could it be possible that options 1 and 2 do not necessarily have the same negative outcome. Could an outside tech company (not state controlled) even if it’s under control of a western government that’s continually pushing for more control (and I speak as a Brit where we’re fighting our own battles on this front) still be better at helping to spread freedom of communication and ideas even marginally than the fully state controlled alternative?

It’s all relative I think. No country is perfect, no government is perfect. As a Brit my government fucks up continuously. The American government fucks up continuously. The Australian government fucks up continuously (looking at the recent legislation that we’ve talked about on HN). We’re all basket cases. But, the world is imperfect. Is it possible that even with our flaws, a more open and democratic (relatively) country’s private sector companies can still have a positive impact by having a presence in less open/democratic countries? Even if that means having to acquiesce occasionally?

I’m not sure. But I’m open to the possibility and I think the parent makes a strong case from their description of their own experience with Iran.

> I’m not sure. But I’m open to the possibility and I think the parent makes a strong case from their description of their own experience with Iran.

Of course! I'm just observing how tech is being applied in my part of the world and assuming the same thing will happen in theirs. There's a good possibility that my hypothesis is incomplete or just plain wrong. I thought it's worth sharing nevertheless.

I live in the US now and I'm no stranger to how these companies surveil you. My point is, Google has more incentives and interests than just keeping the powers to be in Iran.

But a state-owned company would only and only have 1 master, which would be the state. And it wouldn't bring any of the benefits of Google with it. It would surveil you more aggressively and it would be more devoted to the state.

> There's a good possibility that my hypothesis is incomplete or just plain wrong. I thought it's worth sharing nevertheless.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a good chance my hypothesis is incomplete too! :)

> Both of these would only serve to amplify the power of Iranian government many fold. And there is no "maybe" and no "time to time". We're talking the de-facto tools of surveillance capitalism here.

I'm not so sure they would be equal. Example:

Iranians have been using Telegram/Whatsapp/Viber for many years. And every few years the government tries to block them and push their own "national" app. Every time they try to push this agenda, there is a massive massive backlash, because noone trusts the government.

Maybe Iranian government would have enough leverage against Facebook/Google to ask them to do something (like removing Navalny app) at key moments (or push to surveil some key people at certain moments) but they definitely wont have access to every single person's database like a "national" app would. That's a very big difference.

> Sorry this wasn't a well written, well thought piece.

Are you kidding? This is one of most eloquent and thoughtful responses I’ve ever had to a question on HN.

Thanks for taking the time to put your thoughts down. Everything you’ve said makes total sense, and it totally balances out my original gut reaction which was “fuck Apple and Google, just pull out of the country rather than giving in to these sorts of demands”.

Having followed Navalny’s story, I felt outraged that these two massive tech companies can’t even keep his political support app online to just give a modicum of support to the guy single-handedly (almost) taking on Putin.

What I didn’t consider, and what’s made much more clear to me by your brilliant response, is that it may only be due to the proliferation of “generally open” (relatively) tech companies like Apple and Google in Russia that has allowed Navalny to build momentum and support there in the first place.

The benefits of better communication and easier proliferation of ideas that are brought by the internet and the tech companies that enable this “communication and idea sharing infrastructure” can be easily overlooked.

If you have a blog or somewhere to publish your ideas, you should totally publish this comment as an article as it’s insightful and brilliant.

> Fast forward to Donald Trump leaving the JCPOA, putting a "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran.

> The economy went to shit (it's really a humanitarian crisis now). The government, scared of riots, locked everything down…

At the risk of digging in a bit politically here… I’m curious if Donald Trump’s actions here were a crucial tipping point in your view or if there were other factors too that were obviously at play? As much as I’d love to blame it all on Trump I’m curious if he exacerbated things that were already slipping, or if he (and the Republicans) precipitated it…

> At the risk of digging in a bit politically here… I’m curious if Donald Trump’s actions here were a crucial tipping point in your view or if there were other factors too that were obviously at play? As much as I’d love to blame it all on Trump I’m curious if he exacerbated things that were already slipping, or if he (and the Republicans) precipitated it…

There were obviously a lot of factors in play here. However, pulling out of JCPOA, against the will of all European partners and many US companies with no alternative reason was a crime. It was only to deny Obama/Democrats a win (over a good deal with Iran) which has brought a decade of misery upon Iranian people and risk of more wars among people in the region.

But the JCPOA was a massive, massive step forward and had no downsides for any of the countries involved. But leaving JCPOA was a step even more backwards and it may have pushed Iran over the edge. It may have been a point of no return for Iranian regime.

P.S: Thank you for the kind words.

I’ve just been reading up on the JCPOA [0] as I have to admit my total ignorance on this topic.

It does seem like you’re right to be emphasising the significance of the US pulling out of this. (And that’s probably an understatement).

Thanks for your level headed elaboration of your thinking on this - I’ve learnt a great deal from this thread and shifted a few perspectives!

This is why I come to HN.

[0] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_Comprehensive_Plan_of_...

That seems to achieve nothing in practice. If Google and Apple leave Russia, then whatever replaces them will probably be even more compliant with the government.

Of course, working in the country means paying tax dollars and "participating in the dictatorship" in that way, but that's not linked to app store restrictions. It's not as if they needed to get ordered to remove that app to realize they were working in a dictatorship, they knew it beforehand.

I am sorry, but that's bullshit. Do you see Russia threatening Microsoft for not banning certain apps from Windows? No, because they can't. Apple and Google have build their ecosystem in such a way that they have full power over these decisions, and now they are forced to use that power.

Edit: Google has a slight advantage here because people can still sideload apps on Android, but that's not possible on iOS.

This, right here. Centralization is the danger. In whatever form.

Even the web with single points of failure is prone to this.

The real money comment in this entire thread. Corporate incentive structures are messed up. Why does a corporation sacrifice principles and values over money. If they really care about the people they serve they would consider this seriously.

One of the first things I was told when I joined FB was that they were almost going to be decentralized and a non-profit. Who knows how much of that history is rewritten.

I mention it because there are echoes that these big tech companies could have been non-profits. Google making information accessible. Apple making computers that enable people to learn and create. Facebook connecting people and creating community. Amazon to empower small businesses.

They probably wouldn’t have succeeded as much as they did now. But they certainly deviated away from their original mission, or rather they have a history of compromising them for profit. We should be trying to create a world where they would have succeeded as a non-profit.

Our incentive structures for corporations are so screwed up. But this is so complex. Probably the first step is improving the bottom line for everyone in the country, and then we can start tearing apart the incentive structures for businesses.

> Apple and Google have build their ecosystem in such a way that they have full power over these decisions, and now they are forced to use that power.

They made choices that put them in this situation, sure. But how does the fact that it's their fault change their situation now? Leaving still achieves nothing, and they certainly won't change their business model for that reason alone, so the logical choice is to stay and obey.

If they left, I doubt they would be replaced by a Microsoft-like that has less control over their devices. More likely, the void would be filled by government-compliant companies.

I would be cautious about that kind of statement.

Moving out of their country is just what dictatorships want. To do their thing undisturbed.

Nobody is going to do that so long as there is financial reason to not.

Which is not to say Google and Apple don't care about their employees, clearly this article suggests otherwise.

It's just not true that pulling out is a viable or even straight forward option.

You could also make an argument for US government placing pressure on these companies to keep a presence in Russia so they (the US government) can have some kind of foothold to push soft pressure

No company will pull out because there is money in these countries - what happens there in politics, social sphere doesn't actually matter as long their business isn't in any direct danger. And if there's some threat, their "values and moral spine" bends with ease; big corps have tools and means to do damage control if situation requires.

As a Russian, I agree. Boycott Putin, Lukashenko and other bloody murderers. Otherwise it's just talk.

You can post whataboutism under this comment (e.g. "what about China?", "US is bloody too", "US always supports dictators" and other useful idiot[0] stuff).

0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Useful_idiot

I'm no fan of political power in Russia (my home country) or anywhere else in the world, but come on with this double-standard bullshit.

Every country does exactly the same thing. Just look at how much suppression of "alternative voices" happens in real time all over the world and what apps were banned, accounts closed etc. Jan 6 was painted as bad as 9/11, ffs. It may be staged differently so it's not the "government" directly steps onto your 1st amendment, but "private biz", but who are we kidding. When there are forbidden topics and forbidden people, it's the outcomes that matter, not specific mechanisms.

Google and Apple are collaborating with all governments, and all governments are abusing their powers in someone's own interests, so calling for "pulling out" of a "misbehaving country" makes as much sense as asking for rain to drop upwards.

I'd better explore how people could reduce their dependence on any giant corporation, regardless of it being a business or a government, from West or East.

> Every country does exactly the same thing.

They don't though. Sure, there is some level of corruption and media bias in every country but few countries have dictatorships which will threaten imprisonment (or worse) of anyone who speaks out against the current government.

However I do agree with your secondary point that the solution isn't to create a tech vacuum, it's to create technology that can't be controlled by a single authority.

So in the US there was a big kerfuffle about how Russia paid for some Facebook ads and interfered with the election. Russia bad.

Here you have an app that literally tells people how to vote. This is pro-US, so again, Russia bad.

This is a Russian app, overtly tied to a Russian political figure, explaining to Russian citizens how to act in their Russian election. You don't see any difference with Russia using fake US accounts to tell US citizens how to act in the US election?

> Donald J. Trump and 18 of his associates had at least 140 contacts with Russian nationals and WikiLeaks, or their intermediaries, during the 2016 campaign and presidential transition.

Sorry, wrong person, 1 sec...


1) Studied in Yale 2) Supported by all western media as a hero at any time 3) Received large amounts in Bitcoin 4) Maria Pevchikh (MI6)


Looks like very Rissian polititian, and very pro-russian activity.

By the same argument: Facebook is a US company, so Russia is innocent.

Just because someone uses a front to hide behind does not mean they are not behind the activity.

Now you are moving the discussion into Which country have actual free people though. Sure a dictatorship is worse than a "free" country where decades of propaganda has set the tone so people think they are free while they do what the government wants them to but are they really that much better off? That people chant USA! USA! USA! while doing something doesn't mean they are free. They are more free but way more indoctrinated. I'm not sure that is better than how it is in Russia. It does feel better, sure, but it doesn't give any less media bias at all. If anything US media is more biased than Russian or at least as bad - all done without obvious threats. That's worse in my opinion, way worse.

> Now you are moving the discussion into Which country have actual free people though.

I'm not moving the topic, that is an integral part of the existing discussion: Apple and Google employees were threatened with imprisonment if they didn't remove the app.

> but are they really that much better off?

Now who's moving the discussion away from topic? It certainly isn't me lol

I'll entertain your question though: some will be better off, some will be worse off, and some will not be affected at all. When you deal with any large dataset, such as the entire population of a country, there will always be individual samples which demonstrate the benefits of most outcomes.

HOWEVER I do not believe the instances of those who are better off under a dictatorship equal out the atrocities that dictators use to retain their control. And that is the real crux of the problem.

> That people chant USA! USA! USA! while doing something doesn't mean they are free.

I'm not American and don't have a particularly high opinion of American politics either but it's still better than a dictatorship.

I also suspect you're now drifting into a philosophical argument about what it means to be "free".

> It does feel better, sure, but it doesn't give any less media bias at all.

Finally you're back on topic! As I stated in my previous post, every country will have bias in the media. That's unavoidable. However what is important is that the media have freedom to choose their political biases. In "free" countries you'd typically get new outlets which will favour the current government but also outlets that will be highly critical of the government. And that is the difference between Russia and most of the rest of the world. It might seem like a really small point if you're used to Russian (or any other state-controlled) media but I promise you that it really is a significant difference!

> If anything US media is more biased than Russian or at least as bad

No, it really is not. You have platforms that can offer opposing arguments and full press freedom to use them. America even has rules stating that one should have the freedom to speak out against the government (and this was upheld in court when Trump tried to block people he didn't like on Twitter). Compare that with most dictatorships where vocal opponents often end up exiled (or worse!) and you'll see my point that you cannot argue the two to be equivalent.

Agreed. Navalny’s behavior is seen by many as “election meddling” backed by a hostile foreign power. Sound familiar?

The central point of this in 2016 was an actual crime being committed at the behest or reward of an American campaign.

So it sounds familiar if you squint and stand a hundred yards back.

Allow side-loading so that you don’t leave yourself open to a situation where the only way your customers get access to a voting app is by having your employees jailed. The AppStore creates an easily exploitable bottleneck for governments to take advantage of. The hkmap.live situation during the protests in Hong Kong was similar.

As much as I like a lot of the benefits of the walled garden (from a consumer perspective, not necessarily as a developer), this is actually a very good argument for side-loading and one that I hadn't thought about before.

~4 years ago I gave a talk at Mozilla Privacy Lab (perfected from a talk I gave at 360|iDev) that focused on these moral reasons for not having centralized systems, looking at everything from government control to the tyranny of the majority, that I called "That's How you Get a Dystopia".


As far as I am concerned, you absolutely cannot have centralized control over something like "all software distribution" without being actively complicit with such regimes, and that people working for Apple have chosen to normalize this is unconscionably immoral :(.

> As far as I am concerned, you absolutely cannot have centralized control over something like "all software distribution" without being actively complicit with such regimes

Yeah that seems to distil the problem down to the fundamentals. Will watch your talk, thanks!

The app is still available in other countries, so in order to install it in Russia one just have to create another Apple account to install it from a foregn app store on the device.

"Just" creating another Apple account means forfeiting all your data, apps, purchases etc. There are many simpler ways to access that same data, for example on navalny's website via a vpn. But all those ways are too complicated for most people.

That's not how it works on iOS. iCloud and App Store accounts can be switched independently. After the installation you can switch back to your main account, and all your data will still be there. Newly installed app should auto-update as well.

I personally have apps from 2-3 different countries' store accounts on my Apple devices.

It's hard to maximise profit and have consistent internal moral principles. As the other child comment mentioned, I would have preferred if Apple doesn't collaborate with these regimes and build their systems in such a way that they can't stand in the way of people doing what they want. But when you try to maximise profit, you have to interpose yourself as the gatekeeper, so you can extract as much value from the flow. And that of course makes you vulnerable to these kind of regimes.

Arbitrary imprisoning or harming the employees of Google or Apple would likely result in many other western IT firms closing their offices and leaving, that would be a very stupid thing to do for the Russian government. So I don’t think such threats could have been real (but I guess you can’t really count on authoritarian regimes not doing something completely irrational).

NYT and Bloomberg report that threats were real: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28563916

I’m not denying these threats were issued, but actually following them through would be a very irrational thing to do. So it’s probably just a bluff. Of course it doesn’t really matter that much since Google/Apple were going to comply with their requests anyway.

Autocratic leaders can get pretty irrational in their quest of preserving power down to the point of harming what seems to be their interests in major ways.

Russiam government needs to shut up Navalny a lot more than they need western IT companies. Successful multinationals know when to blink.

Putin has attacked a good many political dissidents on foreign soil, is it really such an unbelievable claim?

> likely result in many other western IT firms closing their offices and leaving

That's just naive. Russia and China are huge markets. Apple and Google are not going anywhere unless their hands are forced.

It’s not an all or nothing outcome. And I’m not talking about Google or Apple leaving. There are many companies which have dev offices in Russia, they would be less likely to hire new employees in Russia if they believed they can be arbitrarily imprisoned for random reasons.

Just look at what’s happening in Belarus in the last year (IT companies started fleeing to neighboring countries)

I don’t know what people expect here. Companies can’t really stand up to governments, especially autocratic ones overseas. Apple’s only option would be to leave Russia completely.

That might be the right thing to do but it’s a tough sell to shareholders.

This hurts Apple. Remember, Apple's entire argument for CSAM scanning is that they would resist pressure to modify the system.

Obviously they won't if they fold this easy.

>It's worth watching

Why haven't you provided a link then?

It was published on a Telegram channel: https://t.me/A000MP97/93

Honestly Apple's Russian executives look very weak and unprepared in this video.

I suspect they're just hired from some agency or consultancy as FAANG have very limited corporate presence in Russia.

So they just keep being sheepish and stumbling because they have no incentive to stand their ground. Just hired guns.

From what I gather it was an unexpected invitation for the companies. They learned about it only a day before.

Those are lawyers hired by Apple and Google, not employees.

They still looked unprepared.

The inquirer asked basic questions like "who controls App Store" or "what is the relationship between local subsidiary and Apple Inc."

They stumbled and mumbled looking lost. They looked like they didn't have clear defense line or strategy although the attack on Apple was absolutely on cards for years.

I hope I'm wrong judging by a short video but it's a bad look for Apple.

It's possible Apple is just giving in to Kremlin (or have an agreement already even) so they don't even bother or care to defend themselves.

> I hope I'm wrong judging by a short video but it's a bad look for Apple.

Is it implausible that the lawyers were coerced into looking weak to provide a propaganda victory for the regime?

Google and Apple had been asked by the Council to visit the hearing 2 days in advance which is not enough to prepare for anything related to "the offense on the sovereignty".

I just watched this video but didn't find anything about threatening jail time. It was a bunch of bickering about Apple Inc. and Apple Distribution International Limited.

Care to provide a source for this?

>Google removed the app in Russia under pressure after officials threatened to imprison its local employees, a person close to the company said, speaking on condition of anonymity.


>Google removed the app Friday morning after the Russian authorities issued a direct threat of criminal prosecution against the company’s staff in the country, naming specific individuals, according to a person familiar with the company’s decision.


Incredible and horrifying at the same time. I think this is the final nail in the coffin for foreign investment in Russia.

This is shadier than it seems. The opposition organization FBK (ФБК) was just called out as "extremists," and with this government decision, they wrote mails to Google and Apple to block "extremists." There are published answers from Apple with details.


Any government can easily classify any opposition as "extremists" now and Apple and Google will ban them.

If you build tools of oppression (not making it easy to use alternate app stores) they will inevitably be abused by those wishing to oppress.

> Letting your Russian employees be persecuted don't amount to "doing the right thing".

I disagree. Western companies have no moral obligation to bend their own ethics, help a tyrant, and harm a nation, in order to "save" one, or a handful, of employees from said tyrant.

Quite the opposite, the right thing to do is to take a stand and force the tyrant out in broad daylight.

It's one thing to flinch immediately, another to let this stand. By now there has been enough time for Mountain View to lock any Russian IPs out of Play Store moderation and to reinstate the apps unilaterally, with a clear statement that no one below the C-suite will be able to undo the decision. Otherwise, the org chart is clearly inverted.

As a Russian I say they should have hired "martyrs" from opposition onto the jailable positions. Not having "martyrs" on these positions saved Putin's regime a lot of face, of actually persecuting a famous companys' local division directors for not censoring the internet. Now they know how to force these companies to do what they want, and do it quickly.

that's really clever. Navalny himself shows that such martyrs exist, brave enough to return after being poisoned. But what if they arrest everyone and not just the martyrs?

Companies shouldn't put themselves in this position: they should simply refuse to have a local presence or local employees in authoritarian-leaning countries.

There is a law in Russia (going into effect next year) that large IT companies must have local presence, otherwise they will be banned from operating in the country. I believe this is inspired by a similar law in China.

So actual teeth (arrests) in policy works? U.S should make notes. We're due for new treason (aiding a foreign adversary) laws that cover global companies.

> Letting your Russian employees be persecuted don't amount to "doing the right thing".

IT IS very much a right thing. Don't want to work for such company? Leave! It's not an indentured slavery!

Fuck, You Sergei Brin! You just screwed the most monumental display of courage, and determination by employees of Google Russia with a single pen stroke.

It's something else to risk your own well being for a cause than to risk someone elses well being.

It were 2, or 3 thousand Google Russia employees who signed on to adamantly oppose any attempt to block this app in the play store. Brin basically betrayed Google Russia, and its employees.

Nobody had Sergei Brin call them, and tell to do that.

It was an act 100% of their own volition.

The real threat came from the fine the government intended to impose on the companies. They threatened to fine not the fixed amount, as they did before, but to calculate it from the turnover values. Which could result in millions of dollars. The Russian government recently fined Booking with almost 18 million USD. For Google and Apple the fine could be even bigger.

The threat to employees on the other hand was not real one, there is no one to legally procecute in the Russian subsidiaries of the companies.

Without knowing much about the specifics... A threat can be totally real, even if "there is no one to legally prosecute". In most countries (even in countries that most people would consider more democratic), if people in power want to "make a point", they will find a way.

I'm an immigrant who moved from Hungary to Germany, lived in Spain and Mexico, and I know many examples from all countries where people in power got their way through various ways, even if they had no legal way to enforce their will on others. Also do not forget, if you control legislation, the judges, the constitution, the police, etc, what is legal one day, can become illegal and prosecuted and persecuted pretty quickly.

They don't need a legal ground to harm any Russian citizen. Last several years political repressions are gaining momentum and there's less and less care about keeping it in a legal field.

Apple’s acquiescence to the Russian government’s demand to remove this app was predicted when it first came to light. Exactly at the same time as Apple was assuring world+dog that it would never acquiesce to governmental pressure to extend and expand the scope of its CSAM scanning tool on user’s devices.

Have they ever explained why the csam would be implemented? Apple bends just fine if the government is powerful enough and the marketplace is big enough, see China.

In their defence (I say this with some trepidation), if they want to see their products in another country, then they need to play by that countries rules. Regardless of how we in the west feel about those rules.

If a Chinese company came to the US or EU and ignored US or EU rules and lawful directives from government, we would quite rightly be up in arms about that.

With regards to CSAM, I think the same applies. After all the CSAM issue only exists because the US government has decided that invasive monitoring is the only way to counter CSAM.

I note that no other western country takes such an authoritarian approach to CSAM, an approach that seems to be primarily driving by evangelist Christian keen on outlawing sex in general. As oppose to actually helping victims of CSAM.

> In their defence (I say this with some trepidation), if they want to see their products in another country, then they need to play by that countries rules.

I understand your trepidation in saying it. That is simply a fact of reality as it stands and how businesses operate under the current incentives, not a value judgement.

However, it makes me think that liberal democracies should play hardball. The USA already has the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act [0] and the UK the Bribery Act 2010 [1], which hold their own businesses and citizens criminally liable for business-related corruption in a foreign country. Also, many countries apply universal jurisdiction for crimes such as child abuse [2].

Maybe liberal democracies should start applying a similar set of rules to businesses who are licenced to operate within their country, forbidding them from performing certain types of tasks (e.g. ideological censorship) for any government.

I am well aware of how incredibly complex a law of this kind would need to be, but let businesses choose – if they want to operate in the EU, USA, UK, etc. then they need to play by the no political repression rules worldwide. Would losing the markets of repressive regimes not be worth it? Well, they're free to move their headquarters to those countries and lose the liberal democratic market.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_Corrupt_Practices_Act

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bribery_Act_2010

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_jurisdiction

I don't think liberal democracies care about these freedoms, other than as a rhetorical stick to hit countries that "illiberal" with. E.g. imprisonment of Julian Assange, removal of Trump from twitter, Atlantic Council as official part of FB content moderation team (w/ the probably-not-coincidental) subsequent removal of pro-Venezuela and far left groups.

(Plus also IMO being banned from FB and Twitter are materially much more harmful to a political movement than being banned from an app store. EDIT: Maybe not, since per other comment it was being used to organize election results.)

Yes, I agree there is much hypocrisy amongst those in power regarding this issue, and liberal democracies as such do not "care" about freedoms.

But then, why do they have laws punishing corruption in a foreign country? And why do they care if one of their citizens travels to a foreign country and performs a sexual act which, while not technically a crime at the current location, would be a crime back home?

Whether the motivation of these rules is purely utilitarian ("We don't want our businesses to get good at corruption, in case they start bringing it back" or "It's easier to catch active paedophiles having this option"), honestly moral ("Corruption/sex tourism is a scourge for developing countries, we must do anything to stop it") or even cynically electoral ("Let's look tough on crime to win votes"), any of these three options could be applied to a law against collaboration with repressive regimes.

In particular, given the dependence of our economies on the likes of Alphabet, Apple, Facebook, etc. and the increased power of China, I think that the utilitarian motivation should be enough. We don't want businesses that are so entrenched in our day-to-day to be so cozy with repressive authoritarian regimes which may sooner than later start to apply their own requirements on how businesses should operate in other countries if they want to have access to their own lucrative market.

Interesting points.

If I were to hazard cynical guesses, I'd say anti-corruption drives are genuine, in that corruption hurts American business interests, and anti-sex-crimes stuff is convenient to intelligence services who use sexual transgressions as black mail (e.g. Alexander Acosta explaining why he cut a sweet-heart deal for Epstein: "I was told Epstein 'belonged to intelligence' and to leave it alone").

Democratic leaders will care about it if it earns them votes at the polls.

But I agree that the government's themselves don't give a rats arse about this stuff, as long as they can keep winning elections.

Following laws in countries that one is operating is expected.

However, following laws that contradict one’s marketing materials will lead to some understandable questions about those “values”.

I think avianlyric is suggesting Apple didn't have a choice, and that US gov is compelling them to add the CSAM features. Which seems likely to me.

† Really "CSAM", since there's no way to verify nor ensure it's only scanning for CSAM. What they are building is a prohibited content scanner, and what it will scan for is whatever governments would like it to scan for.

Well do you have a copy of Apple's marketing material from Russia saying that won't censor the app store if compelled to do so by the Russian government?

It not reasonable to hold Apple to pledges they've made to western customers, when talking about a service provided to non-western customers.

As much as we wish it wasn't true, the scope for providing privacy is substantially greater in the west than it is elsewhere.

> Well do you have a copy of Apple's marketing material from Russia saying that won't censor the app store if compelled to do so by the Russian government?

Создавая продукты Apple, мы прежде всего заботимся о том, чтобы защитить вашу личную информацию и предоставить вам контроль над ней. [0]

Which translates to:

When we create Apple products, our primary concern is to protect your data and give you control over it.

[0] https://www.apple.com/ru/privacy/

> It not reasonable to hold Apple to pledges they've made to western customers, when talking about a service provided to non-western customers.

I think it's reasonable: We hold people account across borders for serious violations (extraditions), so it's completely reasonable to hold a company accountable for its serious violations outside of the country that you're buying from.

No-one is forcing Apple to support those countries with oppressing citizens either.

> With regards to CSAM, I think the same applies. After all the CSAM issue only exists because the US government has decided that invasive monitoring is the only way to counter CSAM.

No it hasn't. There is no legislation that the government passed or enforces that says Apple must scan people's private data on their devices for CSAM. Apple decided to do that all on their own.

The specific approach isn't in law. But the requirement to scan photos stored in the cloud is.

On this specific point I think reasonable to believe that Apple want to E2E iCloud photos, and their stated approach to CSAM is how they'll achieve E2E iCloud photos, while remaining compliant with the requirement to scan for CSAM they might be hosting.

Now there's a very strong argument to be made that Apple have made an appalling trade-off here, prioritising E2E over not doing on device scanning. But it's a trade-off that's only happened due to the requirement for CSAM scanning.

An interesting approach Apple could take, is apply E2E iCloud photos in Europe, and continue with on server scanning (and no E2E) for the US.

> But the requirement to scan photos stored in the cloud is.

This is categorically false. The law is very clear. Known CSAM must be reported. There is no obligation to search for it. The law explicitly exempts service providers from having to search for anything in a paragraph aptly named “protection of privacy”.

The text of the law: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2258A

> On this specific point I think reasonable to believe that Apple want to E2E iCloud photos

Here's the thing: if they wanted this they should have said so, because until then I'm not going to make this assumption. I can only make decisions on information I have, not on wishful thinking.

But I read from that guy mike Hearn , the early Bitcoin dev that it's like a reverse search. They check the csam database and compare to what is in your files, sounds good at first, but, big concern is...what if governments start to add other, unrelated data to get rid of people who cause political friction and other undesired elements as per their government policies?

> what if governments start to add other, unrelated data to get rid of people who cause political friction and other undesired elements as per their government policies?

That's possibly the most inefficient way anyone can imagine. If they can control Apple, they can just tell them to search Mail.app and Photos.app. What you are proposing is a Rube Goldberg machine.

And I'm 99% certain various agencies are already reading all your emails, with or without Apple's help. They are not hiding that they are spying on Swedish citizens, with the help of our intelligence services. Pretty sure they spy on you as well.

> what if governments start to add other, unrelated data to get rid of people who cause political friction and other undesired elements as per their government policies?

This is exactly what's going to happen, especially in countries like Russia and China. Children are just the perfect political weapon to make people accept the system.

Of course Apple is going to play by the rules of the jurisdictions they want to sell their products in. That's why their reassurances that they would never bend to government pressure on their CSAM plans were so worthless.

everybody can use "i was only following orders" as defense in court

Try "I was only following the law". I seriously doubt any court would punish you for sincerely trying to follow the law to the best of your ability.

Russia is a sovereign nation, with the right to rule as they wish. If you're not happy with there way of life, then I would encourage you to contact your democratic representatives and tell them to either apply greater pressure to the Russian government to live up to our ideals, and follow our laws; and if that fails, declare war.

Presumably to protect children.

The cynic in me believes this was either or both of these:


- Marketing ploy. The new iMessages app allows for scanning of the sent and received pictures for nudity and notifies parents if parental controls are enabled.

This is supported by the very large order of iPhones apple made for this year, roughly 90 million iirc.

- Bending the definition of E2EE, that is, enabling them to bend to governments "without breaking" their privacy "stance". Meaning that it is entirely possible to scan for content provided the government targets without losing E2EE. Effectively creating a special class of back window, where one can take a peek without the ability to execute arbitrary code.

It should be noted that given that the model is fast and can run with minimal impact (thank god for accelerators on SOCs /s), it could in theory run in realtime as part of the display pipeline, further removing restrictions like requiring that the content is downloaded with the images and iCloud sync is enabled.


But all of that is pure speculation from a random netizen.

They say it is their responsibility, they don't want to be hosting and serving this content. They have mentioned it's their moral obligation, and they're just playing catch up to other providers.

The story that keeps getting mentioned is that Facebook reports about 55k images a day, Google reports about 1500/day, whereas Apple was reporting 250 a year.

You do understand that icloud is a private storage platform which is fundamentally different from Facebook/Instagram which are used for publicly sharing photos?

Okay? I don't work for Apple, and I'm not making any judgement or sharing my opinion, just answering the question that was asked in a way that I hope was objectively factual with little editorialising.

I will state though that Google Photos has in-servers CSAM detection, and Dropbox. You can have your own opinion about all of that.

Perhaps they don't want people to use their devices for child abuse? Radical idea I know.

If we’re engaging in straw-man arguments, why don’t they just force such detectors directly in safari? And in your camera feed? That should solve issue even faster, so why stop at half measures?

It's not a straw man to say that Apple is scanning for CSAM because they don't want CSAM. It may be naive or wrong, but it's not a "straw man".

The stated reason they do it this way is to protect privacy. Presumably a lot more people would complain if they scanned the camera feed.

Don't stop there! What about terrorists, drug dealers and the organized crime?! We need to stop those, too!

I bet if those crimes were proliferating at the rate that CSAM is, a lot of people would be pursuing more active counter measures

Is there data to show thay CSAM proliferating at a different rate than those crimes?

Well it's hard to say how much of the growth is growth in detection/reporting versus growth in underlying crime, but it's worth noting that each transmission of CSAM is considered a separate crime. I.e. even if actual sexual assault remains steady, the nature of the internet (virality and community creation) sort of pushes CSAM transmission upwards. The internet is designed to spread content that people want, CSAM is sadly just that.

What do you mean by CSAM proliferating? Do you have evidence already that CSAM's image database is being used in a much wider scope than Apple is claiming?

We are already trying to stop those, so that's some weird sarcasm. But scanning photos is not a very efficient way to stop drug dealers, they don't tend to take photos of their stash I think.

You’re not wrong, it could be as simple as that. What’s got some people up in arms isn’t that.

The police in America have proven repeatedly that they will ignore individual freedoms to look indiscriminately for people doing bad things.

Apple creates a tool that enables pattern matching without consent. But they promise they won’t use it for more than CSAM, and that only they will hold the keys.

Okay so imagine that your HOA enacts a rule they’re now allowed to review all of your purchases by comparing known hashes used by drug lords to determine if you are cooking meth in your basement. And if they find a match, without your knowledge, they will report you to the police who will have a defensible justification for a warrant to come enter your house and look for meth lab stuff. Sounds fine as long as you have nothing worth hiding right? Might as well let them just go through everyone’s house preemptively looking for meth labs and skip the hash checking right? Oh you don’t support that leap? Don’t worry, others do.

The police will only be involved after their scanner has found 30 matches and Apple’s reviewer has manually concluded that it actually is CSAM, so I don’t see how the police is really relevant?

If HOA means home owners association, I don’t see the connection. They can’t influence Apple either.

Its the thin end of the wedge argument, and the fact that your property 'the phone' is spying on you and reporting you to the police.

> * Apple’s reviewer has manually concluded that it actually is CSAM*

There is no manual review of the image by Apple employees. What is viewed is a derivative image, which is scaled down and blurred. It would be trivial for someone to use legal pornographic images and put it through a NeuralHash collision generator, which upon viewing the scaled down derivative image, would look like CSAM.

If that’s what you’re worried about, then if people have physical control over your phone they could just upload CSAM to your FB or Google photos from it.

I said nothing about physical control. WhatsApp and other apps automatically download images that are sent to them. Scammers and those who commit fraud or phishing attempts don't have physical access to their victims electronic, yet they're able to get victims to download and run malicious code all of the time.

There's also the fact that iOS exploits are so plentiful that they're cheaper than Android exploits.

Still, why not send actual CSAM then, so that they are actually caught? Getting them into review just causes them inconvenience. Remember, only the flagged images will be reviewed, and only they could ever be sent to law enforcement, so it wouldn't even reveal their private photos or anything like that.

> Still, why not send actual CSAM then, so that they are actually caught? Getting them into review just causes them inconvenience.

Because that requires possessing illegal images, while legal pornography that also happens to cause a hash collision with NeuralHash doesn't.

Again, no one at Apple is reviewing the source image. They're reviewing obfuscated derivative images, and then informing law enforcement if they suspect they're illegal images.

What law enforcement then does is get warrants for all of the accused's electronic devices and raids their home and workplace in order to collect evidence.

It's another version of SWATing. Sure, eventually the authorities might find out that the accused isn't actually a mass shooter or holding hostages, but by then the damage is already done.

Why would the police raid you based on blurry versions of completely legal images?

And are you really saying that the images Apple reviews are so blurry that they can’t review them? That seems like a very stupid system.

In any case, your scenario sounds pretty far fetched. Even if it actually works, I wouldn’t say it’s a major blocker.

> Why would the police raid you based on blurry versions of completely legal images?

Because they have a reasonable suspicion that they're illegal images, and it's quite literally job of the police to collect evidence to determine whether or not a suspect can be charged with a crime or not.

> And are you really saying that the images Apple reviews are so blurry that they can’t review them? That seems like a very stupid system.

Are you saying that Apple built a system that can detect CSAM, and then chose to build a system for distributing and viewing said illegal material, considering that the acts of distributing and viewing CSAM are both very, very illegal?

Again, it isn't Apple's job to determine what's CSAM or not, that's the job of the police and courts. Apple's obligation is to report what they believe could be CSAM to authorities, who will take the investigation from there.

>Are you saying that Apple built a system that can detect CSAM, and then chose to build a system for distributing and viewing said illegal material, considering that the acts of distributing and viewing CSAM are both very, very illegal?

I'm saying that I'm pretty sure they will not turn you in to the police for possession of child porn without being damn sure that's what it is. How do you think the other FAANGs do it? I have never heard of anyone falsely reported for CSAM by Facebook for example, have you? Why would it be different for Apple?

I really don't think you are being honest about this.

There's a world of difference between someone creating a NeuralHash collision and spamming people's iMessage with false positives and actually taking the device and uploading CSAM to the cloud.

Well yes, spamming your iMessages would be pointless.

They can insist that if they are in the phone rental business and the ownership of the phone on their balance sheet, not if they're in the phone sales business. If you sell a product, it's pretty much illegal to control what people can and can't do with it. They can still control usage of iCloud which is a service they're renting out.

Of course they don't care about CASM to switch their business model to do this legally... And their valuation will crash if their balance sheet expands so much and management would be fired.

Of course you can have terms of use for things you sell, I don't know why you would think otherwise.

In this case it IS linked to iCloud though, as you probably know. Images are only scanned on their way to iCloud, and they won't be scanned if you don't use iCloud.

I don't think anyone who is arguing against this capability, myself included, actually believes that it will only ever be used on photos destined for iCloud, especially if state authorities start pressuring Apple to start scanning everything.

That's because people don't understand how technology works.

They think this is some kind of new system that gives Apple new access to things. It's not. They access they have here is nothing compared to what they have always had.

They can and do scan all your messages and photos already, locally, for features such as photo classification and making reminders from emails.

Apple could spy on anything they want, without this system. And this system is an incredibly impractical way to spy on people.

It's also pretty obvious that they wouldn't tell us if they were planning to spy on us, they would just do it.

In short: I have no idea if Apple spies on us, but I can say for certain that they will not use this system for it.

Terms of use are totally different - they allow you to sue a person if they use it againt the terms, and your ability to sue based on them is going to be very limited. Putting in the TOE of a car: " you are not allowed to drive kids in it" will not be enforceable.

In this case the company retains direct control over your property, and changed what it does after you bought it and paid for it.

I really don’t understand why americans are so obsessed with “my property”. I guess it’s a cultural thing.

I am not american, and I dont understand this obsession of American companies making of retaining control of items they already don't down, because they sold them.

I think having these for-profit busybodies butting in how you can live your life is a great threat to invidividual liberty.

How does this threaten your liberty?

You know how posting nudes gets you banned from social media, or gets your google account banned and you loose access to all your files on Drive?

The same will happen with physical devices that you bought - a car, an electric bike, a smart coffee machine. Imagine a car detecting you are smoking dope, or taking an issue with your trip to the abortion clinic.

You think it's not gonna happen, its too absurd? I just had to sign a 42 page lisence agreement to ride a bike.

Nothing in the new Apple scanner relates to what you are talking about. There is a absolutely no limitation on storing and transmitting porn and other types of nude material, as long as it’s legal.

You can even store copyrighted porn, they won’t try and stop you.

If a car could detect if the driver was smoking dope that would be excellent. I don’t think you have the right to drive around blunted.

Are they stopping the pictures being taken? Because the actual cloud uploading isn't child abuse, it's 90% the taking and 10% the sharing with other human beings. (Which only applies to the small subset of casm which is child abuse, rather than the majority which is "sexy" selfies)

100% of the CSAM they scan for is child abuse.

Thank you for this. I had a number of HN users insinuate that I was wrong to warn that Apple could expand beyond CSAM scanning and begin scanning for other material. People seemed to take a very firm stance that no, that could never ever ever happen and I'm wrong to even suggest the possibility.

This incident is more than enough for me to remain concerned that that will happen.

More arguments that Apple will go further than CSAM were presented by Snowden: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28309202.

#freeAppStores for everybody!

You are comparing ”apples” to oranges. App store apps are built by third parties whereas CSAM is Apple’s own code and design on OS level, applying on global level. App store apps have been under removal threat in every country for many years if they can be considered as illegal.

So, same for Apple then, which would be under a threat from a government if they do not submit to whatever CSAM requirements, regardless of “pinky swear” promises?

People should start realisizing that they don’t have much control over for their iPhones, never hard. User interfaces are just an illusion. Reversing their black box code is too much work in real time.

We have always had to trust Apple and their word on what they do. There isn’t evidence that they have broken the trust yet, so what gives reason for even more speculation than before?

This article is evidence that Apple has and is continuously willing to bend to demands in dictatorships... That's why people are talking about it here.

Heck, even in democracies it's willing to bend. It's been widely reported that the reason iCloud backups aren't encrypted is to make it easier for the FBI to surveil them, despite there being no American laws forbidding Apple from encrypting the backups.

> This article is evidence that Apple has and is continuously willing to bend to demands in dictatorships... That's why people are talking about it here.

But this has happened for years already with similar ways. What has changed to make this big news? They have blocked many apps in the U.S as well, but it seems to be fine when for the majority it is OK. For example idea of withdrawal of the TikTok was fine for the most, while it was only for political reasons. People pick sides when it is the most suitable for them.

> It's been widely reported that the reason iCloud backups aren't encrypted is to make it easier for the FBI to surveil them, despite there being no American laws forbidding Apple from encrypting the backups.

And yet, Apple made a way to make encrypting possible while avoiding liabilities, and people made their best to not allow that happen. Such an irony. (Looking at CSAM feature. People seems to still ignore the fact, that it changes from server-side encryption into partial E2EE + server side encryption, tooking a way powerful arguments from FBI to not enable encryption on backups)

I’m saying that Apple is going to do what is required by law, there is no speculation.

This is true for booting an app from App Store, because it was required by a government, or looking through your data on your iPhone, due to a requirement from a government.

Apple has to comply with local laws, regardless of who authored the code.

That's not entirely true. Apple is big enough that they can ignore, bend, or even change local laws when it suits them, especially as it pertains to their operations outside the U.S.

It makes one wonder who or what made this demand worth fulfilling for Apple, but it could just as easily be someone incompetent at Apple blindly fulfilling a takedown request from the Russian government because it's in their job description to follow such demands and they didn't realize that a simple app takedown request had significant geopolitical implications. Who knows. Either way, Apple has definitely strayed far from the vision of their 1984-themed commercial back in the day where they shattered big brother with a hammer...

Yes, but they are not forced to add new features, only to remove, which is kinda big difference.

> Apple struck a deal with the government that will show users a prompt when first configuring a device in Russia to pre-install apps from a list of government-approved software. Users will have the ability to decline the installation of certain apps.

Apps you can decline? And uninstall? We are talking about quite different things here. Not to mention every Android with pre-installed bloatware.

I mean, there's some big questions left out there. It says 'certain' apps. Is it all? Or just some?

If you do opt-out, does anybody get notified? Is it reasonable users are concerned somebody might get notified?

There's a lot going on there. And just to point out, this has moved on from saying Apple only removing features, to debating how bad the features they've added are.

It is very uncertain, who has added the word "certain", as quoted statement is just talking about offering:

> users will be offered a choice of applications from Russian developers, which they will be able to choose for further installation on their iPhone or iPad

They can be forced to do either.

The CSAM databases are not Apple's own either.

Apple uses databases from 2 or more child safety organisations.

Specifically to prevent governments from being able to include entries.

What stops governments from requiring that "this one list" is required to be used, regardless of other organisations? Certainly not "Apple TOS".

> Specifically to prevent governments from being able to include entries.

Yes, governments and their intelligence agencies famously don't work together and share information[1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Eyes

From Tim Cook’s twitter bio[1]:

> “Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'” - MLK

Considering this, HKmap.live[2], and Telegram[3], he seems to be mighty confused about who “others” refers to in that quote.

[1]: https://twitter.com/tim_cook

[2]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HKmap.live

[3]: https://www.iphoneincanada.ca/news/apple-telegram-belarus/

oth·er /ˈəT͟Hər/ pronoun

1. a shareholder or investor

2. a government entity whose favor you are economically dependent on.

Apparently, privacy is only a human right when your government considers you a human. Otherwise, Apple takes no issue enterprising on your lack of freedom.

I remember the CSAM scandal being a US exclusive, so it’s more apt to say the illusion of privacy is a human right for the middle class.

The thing is, that it's all very time-sensitive. And I expect pressure was unreasonably high.

We have elections in Russia this weekend and Navalny app was used as a tool to coordinate protest voting. It is called "Smart Voting" by Navalny team and it is getting a lot of attention for upcomping elections.

If Apple and Google would just be a little bit slower and complied next Monday :)

Still there are more ways to coordinate Smart Voting. Google Docs with recommendations are published. There are youtube videos where Navalny team reads whole list aloud. There's a Telegram bot.

So I hope this action would just bring more attention to the matter.

It's not clear what does the app do? What is protest voting and how do you coordinate it ?

It's voting for the candidate most likely to win against the main party's candidates. The app's purpose is to concentrate protest voters on one candidate without spreading them over all of them.

Isn't there a lot of evidence that Russia's elections are rigged?

Like turnout percentages have ridiculous percentages of ratios that end in 0 and 5 - as do growth in turnout.

They are rigged, but not as fully as they were in e.g. Belarus.

Russia is a giant country with 85 "states" and around ~100k polling stations, so the process is very complex and involves different voting and administrative cultures. In some of those states they are fully rigged, with 95% turnout and 98% votes for the ruling party, but in some the elections are surprisingly fair. In a lot of others they can be made fair if any poll watchers are present. Overall the thinking is that they add themselves 10-15% additional votes across the country by straight up voter fraud.

The main way they rig the elections right now is by not allowing anyone who could win to participate and then throwing all of the state resources towards promoting their candidate. That's why consolidated voting for a single opposition candidate can work in this context.

To add to this: this elections are run independently in every region. The government's ability to rig them in one area does not affect the outcome in another.

A very nice explanation, thank you!

Yes there is a lot of evidence. From blatent ballot stuffing to more tricks like changing names. This time they even shaved someones head to make them look like the candidate ;)


A concerning development this year is they allow online voting? Which seems like the easiest way for them to flip just enough votes to win, without giving themselves 95% of the votes.


Sometimes they are, but (mostly in large cities) people sign up as election monitors to prevent it. Sadly, most of 90 000 polling stations are not monitored by independent observers.

The main way to control elections now is not letting opposition candidates to get into the ballot. For example, on this elections many candidates were rejected because they are "linked" to Navalny's organisation that was admitted as an extremist organization by the court. Some people are rejected because the signatures they have collected are deemed invalid. Obviously you cannot win if you cannot get into the ballot.

There also is electronic voting (voting over Internet) which is difficult to monitor. It is also worth noting that while you can vote over Internet, you cannot collect more than 50% of required signatures for being added to a ballot this way.

Could the same thing be accomplished with rank choice voting?

Are you asking if Russia would allow alternative voting system in order to make it easier voting for opposition candidate?

It sounds like the app has a similar goal as ranked choice voting.

Russia doesn't presently use rank choice voting, so it's not an option for this weekend's election.

Wouldn't you have to be in control of the government for that in the first place?

Given an address, the app provides the name of the suggested candidate in the corresponding voting district. The idea is to consolidate votes around only one candidate who does not belong to Putin's party.

In Russia, many potentially popular candidates are not allowed to run, were imprisoned, or otherwise persecuted, and in some cases killed. Those who remained are often spoilers or people you would not willfully vote for. So usually, people unhappy with the regime either did not show up for the election or spread their votes between many unpopular candidates. That is how Putin's party has support from 20-25% of the population according to various polls but commands 75% of the seats in the parliament. This, and election being rigged. So, the idea is to consolidate the votes of the people who are not happy with Putin's regime. If anything, just to send the message. And that's "protest voting".

The list of the candidates to support was published at the last moment to avoid the risk that they will be removed from the election. The app is the main channel to publish this list because it can auto-update and bypass Internet censorship. Normal websites are often inaccessible without a VPN. Google and Apple shut off this channel.

It is a simple list of candidates recommended to vote for that, according to Navalny team's research, have the highest chance of defeating the Putin's candidates.

The idea is that instead of spreading votes and allowing the baddies to get the highest percentage (but not even close to 50%) and win, people would concentrate their votes.

If you are still in disbelief, that Kremlin would apply such an enormous pressure just to ban a simple list of voting recommendations, I want to remind you that this is exactly what happened last night: the recommendations were posted on Google Docs and Russia decided to ban the whole Google Docs service for that.

Please don't call it elections. Nothing even close.

Well, it's all in the eye of the beholder. As someone living in Scandinavia looking at the US that doesn't look like elections much either.

Pick your favourite animal:

A: Black horse

B: Brown horse

Z: Pony

Why do you always start talking about US when somebody talks about injustices in other countries?

Like really.

No it is not.

(if you really "living in Scandinavia") You literally don't understand what are you talking about, which is damn obvious when you comparing Scandinavia or even US to Russia. You basically comparing Tesla car to horse-drawn carriage and draw similarities on a basis that both have 4 wheels and therefore they are both great and safe transportation devices.

I'm not from Scandinavia and the vast majority of US politicians look like interchangeable parts to me as well.

> I'm not from Scandinavia and the vast majority of US politicians look like interchangeable parts to me as well.

USA citizen. What's hilarious is that 10 years ago, I would have readily agreed with you. Both parties were too deeply beholden to special interests and corporate interests. There were some policy differences, but not that much, really.

In the last five years, however, one party has gone completely batshit insane. Norms, precedent, common decency, acceptance of basic facts, acceptance of basic common sense... these have all gone out the window. And been replaced with cult-like unwavering loyalty to a single man.

The other party, though still frequently dissapointingly inept and incompetent, now has my unhesitating support. It is not even close in my mind anymore.

Same here. I used to vote for a third party candidate in most elections since that was usually who my views aligned most closely with, but in recent years I've switched to voting for the least bad major party because of how awful and terrifying the opposing side has become.

The way I see it, one party has gone dumb, and the other party is obviously going evil (I am from Russia so you can guess what I think of leftism). The question is whether you prefer your government dumb or evil; I think dumb is... the lesser of two evils.

But I can agree on the timing aspect, I'd vote for Obama OR Romney over literally any politician prominent in 2021.

If you're from Russia, what part of the Democratic party looks like "leftism" to you?

I am of course comparing to the USSR, not modern Russia. Pretty much the entire "progressive" wing of the party, with its anti-capitalism and fostering massive welfare state dependency, as well as the recent focus on "oppression" and "power", and purity testing.

I am pretty meh/cynical about the economic aspects, actually; sure, I think these are bad ideas, but unless they run the thing entirely into the ground, I believe there's going to be enough for me until old age at this point, and of course I view legally abusing government programs as libertarian activism - e.g. if there's universal healthcare it would make it so much easier to retire early and use it for all it's worth ;)

What I am actually genuinely afraid of is the cultural garbage, esp. as it infiltrates the education system. See the capitalism/socialism approval polls among the young people, etc. USSR has collapsed when I was 7, but I was still brainwashed enough that I remember asking my parents about the English Premier League - how come they have soccer in England? I was surprised because I thought it was a capitalist system where everyone was oppressed, so at 6-7 or whatever I didn't understand how they could have a soccer league. That was of course while living with 2 STEM MSc parents and a sister in a 700sqft 2-room flat, not being able to afford a car, and knowing nothing about the actual living conditions in England.

From what I know about the school systems in big cities (I know some people who work at schools who are pretty left-wing and they talk about this stuff as if it was a good thing, plus from the news/leaks to right-wing sources), the oppression/anti-capitalist propaganda is rampant, and the current "far-left" wing of the Democratic party are very popular. If it's between this stuff and dumb nationalist rednecks with whom I disagree on 90% of pretty much everything, I'm going to throw my lot with the rednecks.

> USSR has collapsed when I was 7, but I was still brainwashed enough that I remember asking my parents about the English Premier League - how come they have soccer in England?

Uhuh. So in 1991 you asked about an institution that wasn't created until 1992, because you believed it couldn't exist under capitalism even though it's actually explicitly a capitalist endeavour to make the richest clubs in English soccer even richer?

I would say that most likely you should watch less Tucker Carlson, or at least be mindful of the fact that Tucker gets paid millions of dollars per year to make you "genuinely afraid of cultural garbage".

However maybe this is a good time to explain the Football Pyramid for both imaginary Russian seven year olds and HN readers instead.

In the US system major sports leagues are purely business, no matter how terrible the Yankees are they will continue to play every year so long as it makes economic sense. The outcome of games isn't rigged (usually) but no matter how terrible you are at whichever sport, your "punishment" is typically just better chance to win next year.

In England football teams are arranged into a Pyramid of leagues. In principle over years of failure/ success, Liverpool FC, an internationally renowned team could swap places with Kingsley United, a bunch of amateurs from the Liverpool area. Each year, up to three worst performing Premier League team can be "relegated" to the league below, the Championship, and up to three of the best Championship teams are "promoted" to the Premier League, while the same happens in the Championship, League One, League Two, then the National League, and after that there are regional leagues, with promotions or relegations being regional right down until we reach the likes of Kingsley United.

The creation of the Premier League all those years ago, and a more recent attempt to do the same at a European level, is because very wealthy clubs envy the US system. In England you're only ever one bad season away from relegation, and relegation means much less money coming into your club from fans (local "true" fans may stay, but who supports an obscure Division Two team from across the globe the way people support Manchester United?) and from TV rights (the Premier League rights sell for a lot of money, the Championship is much cheaper, and most other games are not televised). More tiers means fewer slices of the cake, more money for the very top clubs which they can spend ensuring they stay there (e.g. buying star players for eye-watering sums of money). The relatively recently abandoned "European Super League" was intended to be even more like the US system by not having relegation. So some of its clubs might have been awful but too bad, they're staying, and gathering the resulting cash, forever. Blergh.

Is that really your answer? If I were to respond in the same spirit, I could only suggest you watch less RT or I dunno, read less Jacobin.

I don't remember what it was called back then, I asked about the league in general. Spartak Moscow had a good run in Champions League that year and that was probably the year I started watching soccer. I know now how leagues are organized, but Soviet teams were at least officially amateurs, and associated with social organization (e.g. CSKA is an "army team" and Dynamo is a "cop team", etc.); even in late 90ies/aughts, opposing fans still used e.g. "musor" (Russian cop insult that means "trash", kinda like "pig" in the US) to yell at Dynamo fans. Or "myaso" ("meat") at Spartak, cause it was associated with a food factory for some time ages ago. So, I didn't understand how "workers" can play soccer when they are exploited. Didn't occur to me that you can get paid to do it and not be "oppressed". Which is the idea you get from even childrens' books, e.g. Neznayka on the Moon, which basically describes how bad capitalism is directly; and others more generally. As well as patriotic movies etc, incl. on how taking stuff from "bourgeoius exploiters" and later from "kulaks" was great and noble.

It's not even about individual books, facts, etc. it's the general outlook in life that one gets when constantly exposed to this. That is where struggle sessions come from (source: former coworkers who immigrated from China as adults). The economic aspects of the ideology also eventually produce this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_Sovieticus#Characteristic.... This slow conversion of everything to a similar collectivist, morally-outraged ideology via schools and colleges is what, as I see, might be a risk in the US. Hence the recent changes in Democratic party.

Currently it's a relatively small, if loud, part of the Democratic party, but it is clearly ascendant, especially with younger generation. The reason for that is hardly some horrors of "late stage capitalism" (again, I have direct experience with early stages ;) and numbers also don't lie - millennial per-capita wealth tracks boomers by age, the housing to income ratio in the US is one of the lowest in the developed world, poor Americans have more disposable income than middle class Europeans, etc.). It's mostly propaganda, and maybe a somewhat increased sense of entitlement (also seen in e.g. grade inflation). Both feed into general envy, when one believes the only ways to get more are dishonest or evil - it's a very Soviet sentiment btw, and I hear it all the time, incl. in person in Seattle.

Regardless of the cause, this would literally be the last thing I would ever support. Under a dumb government, individuals can still thrive (one great thing about trump era was how laughably bad he was at achieving most of his agenda).

EDIT: Remove some stuff I added in the prior edit, this is too long :) EDIT2: Make shorter yet.

The "left wing" in the USA is the "center-right" in other parts of the world. We're still a ways away from basic stuff like universal health care that every other developed country has.

Not really... somebody posted here recently, I cannot find a comment; supposedly posting CDU (German center-right party) policies into the recent NYT poll gets you lumped with trumpist wing of GOP. Many policies that are considered right-wing in the US enjoy broad support in European countries (e.g. official languages). Some things practiced Europe, like the Danish "immigrant ghetto" policies, would cause the US left to melt down so hard they'd burn a hole thru the Earth and come out in the Indian ocean (to be clear, I don't support or don't know/care enough to have an opinion about most of this stuff).

Universal healthcare is provided by many countries from Singapore, that few would call left-wing; to outright totalitarian regimes, e.g. modern Russia. It's an indicator of statism, not leftism; I am not a big fan of that either, but non-leftist statism (a-la Singapore) is ok and totally different from what I'm talking about. Tangentially but helpfully, I would recommend looking up the difference between social democracy and democratic socialism, as described by democratic socialists.

Politicalcompass.org is super helpful for items like this. It turns out we're living in a very authoritarian/right wing world.

Here's a country comparison for the EU. Turns out most of Europe is fairly authoritarian/right wing: https://politicalcompass.org/euchart

Most countries at least have a somewhat relevant political party in quadrant 3 (libertarian/left), as you can see in the charts for EU, Germany, and Canada.

The 2020 US political candidates show very little differentiation between Trump/Biden, with both very authoritarian/right wing: https://www.politicalcompass.org/uselection2020

So, apparently Sweden, with massive taxes and welfare state, is 85+% right-wing (on l2r axis), and even the democratic socialist (literally meaning worker control of means of production), free-everything Sanders just barely makes it to the left side. It looks like this compass needs some declination adjustment.

It doesn't matter. What matters are how many of them and their staff or supporters gets bullied by the authorities, forced to flee the country, found themselves or their relatives in the middle of absurd lawsuits, gets beaten, poisoned or killed?

My point was purely about elections, and that elections only matter if you have a reasonable amount of choice. You're arguing about something completely different.

My arguing is exactly about that! You can't name something as "elections" when ~~a huge~~ any part of country's people not just don't have a political representative at all, but gets actively counteracted to have such representative.

What is "a huge any part"? Looks like too many determiners to me, so I'm not sure what you're saying there.

> don't have a political representative at all

That doesn't make a lot of sense, unless you live in a place like Puerto Rico. I'm not sure if Russia has similar places, but I assume it doesn't.

All people allowed to take part in elections are sanctioned by Kremlin.

Try to sign up as a candidate and best case you'll get rejected, worst case beaten, bullied, jailed or murdered.

I have no doubt that what you're saying is true. Still, that doesn't make the difference between lack of choice and illusion of choice any bigger.

You can create a political party in US. In Russia even attempting it will get you jailed or murdered.

It's still weird how on the West it's customary to compare the uncomparable. In Chechnya (or Iran) all gay people are lynched without exception and women are treated as slaves. The West has its share of homophobia and misoginy but it's not even close, not by a thousand miles.

You can create a political party in the US with exactly the same amount of effect on future politics that such an attempt would have in Russia. Compared to either of those, influencing the political scene by creating a new party is vastly easier in many other parts of the civilized world. For example, there are parties in my country's parliament that didn't even exist a decade ago. It would seem that the last time a non-Democrat, non-Republican party had a seat in US Congress was around 1950 or so - seventy years ago. That seems like quite the difference in political culture to me.

> What is "a huge any part"?

HN doesn't support a strike-through markup. "~~a huge~~" means striked-through font here. I've written it first and then after some thought tried to show that actually the proper word there is "any".

> That doesn't make a lot of sense, unless you live in a place like Puerto Rico. I'm not sure if Russia has similar places, but I assume it doesn't.

You are so much disconnected from what is and how it's happening here...

> You are so much disconnected from what is and how it's happening here.

How am I "disconnected" in thinking that Russia doesn't have US' federal structure that includes non-states?

As someone living in Scandinavia you probably have a King.

Anyway, these law makers are still democratically elected in the US (more than we can say about the king of Norway), and these parties are more like coalitions anyway since they're so large and broad.

The king of Norway is not a lawmaker, though. He's not even a minister.

Very sad when not even the massively rich will bother to do the right thing. "Sorry, need a few more billion, so we're going to side with an oppressive regime against Democracy."

Reminds me of a Dylan line "Will all the money you made buy back your soul?"

> Very sad when not even the massively rich will bother to do the right thing.

The issue is Google and Apple isn't owned by one massively rich person.

They are owned by tens of thousands of shareholders, many extremely wealthy but most small, including both individual investors but also pension funds and hedge funds, and the CEO & Board are legally obligated to act in their fiduciary interest.

> CEO & Board are legally obligated to act in their fiduciary interest.

Short or long term? Because shitting on democracy for money is potentially very damaging for brands in the long term, the market and especially future comptetitors will remember it.

Is it? I’d love to believe you, but I doubt it’s the case. Almost every public company that had something to lose would act the same way under these circumstances..

Something to lose right now, but potentially a lot to gain in post smartphone markets, where trust becomes even more important as technology merges more and more with the human body. Brand trust is going to be much more important than it is right now.

> Short or long term? Because shitting on democracy for money is potentially very damaging for brands in the long term, the market and especially future comptetitors will remember it.

In a perfect world this would be the case.

In the real world, their competitors won't exit these markets and will grow to fill the space left by them. This means that their competitors will grow which is probably more of a competitive threat to them in the long term.

i.e. if Google leaves China, the main impact to them would be the rise of TOS+ and the loss of their small market-share in China to Baidu. This would also be playing directly into the chinese government's hands who have a strong foothold on Baidu and Tencent.

I doubt that is true. The loss in the US versus all the money made in Russia and China? A drop in a sea of money. Also not everyone, especially outside the US, sees this as Democracy Vs. Bad regimes. Many see the US and China as equally bad so doing the US' bidding is no better than doing China's.

> legally obligated to act in their fiduciary interest.

Can you provide a citation of which law requires this?

It is probably a bundle of all three, but "duty of good faith" fits the best here.

"The duty to act in good faith is an obligation not only to make decisions free from self-interest, but also free of any interest that diverts the control persons from acting in the best interest of the company."


I don't believe that for a second. Fiduciary duty prevents corporate officers from enriching themselves at the expense of the company. Fiduciary duty does not compel cooperation with dictators in the suppression of their people.

Can you provide a single example of a civil or criminal charge over something like this?

Many of those shareholders are diversified and may benefit more from a freer Russia than they lose in short term google profits

Usually, we would sanction countries that did this. Maybe time to sanction companies? Otherwise, why do anyone expect them to do anything other than what is the most profitable? Its even illegal not to.

> Usually, we would sanction countries that did this. Maybe time to sanction companies? Otherwise, why do anyone expect them to do anything other than what is the most profitable? Its even illegal not to.

Sanction for what exactly? Sanctions against nations don't work. USA has been sanctioning Cuba, Iran for half a century, no regime change whatsoever, it only hurt the population in these countries. USA are sanctioning Russia right now, is Putin gone? No.

And you want to sanction Apple or Google for what? under what law? Isn't the whole argument made all the time now that these "private companies" are free to censor whoever they want for whatever reasons and they don't have to respect the concept of freedom of speech on their platform?

I agree with you that sanctions against countries don't work.

But then the next logical step is to propose the action that actually works: sanctions against individuals. Perhaps that's what should be done - sanctions against individual decision-makers at Google and Apple?..

The US government allows Google to operate in Russia (unlike Iran for example). So how can it arbitrarily ’sanction’ employees for complying with the laws of a country their company operates in. Do that sound fair to you? It wouldn’t make any sense.

That would make the US more of a pariah than it already is. Already most of the west only follow sanctions imposed by the US screaming and kicking unless it plays into their own agenda.

Not to say I am generally in favour of sanctions, but they did help in South Africa's case.

It wasn't just sanctions in that case, but also boycotts and divestment (via shareholder activism). Which is why Israel is so keen to get US state legislatures to ban speech in favor of the BDS movement.


Had Cuba and Iran not been sanctioned it would have been a lot worse.

> Very sad when not even the massively rich will bother to do the right thing.

This is so bizarre, what did people expect here? Apple has been complying with Chinese communist party demands for decades and who knows what Google did. But when it's the Russian government, it's where people on HN draw the line?

These companies certainly want their phones/ecosystem to be sold or used in Russia, they only care about whatever values you think they care about for PR reason in USA. Same for Twitter, Facebook and co.

They are rich for these very reasons, they were never champion of whatever ideals people here think they stand for. Especially Apple, which is a ruthless company with a well oiled marketing machine. People need to wake up to that fact. There is nothing "woke" with these companies other than their PR.

So I hear the argument "well Russia isn't that much of a big market for Apple, Google, and co...". These corporations don't want to make an enemy of the Russian government either.

edit: I'm not defending the actions of the Russian government or Google or Apple caving to their demands, I'd love Russia to be a free and open society. I'm just questioning why is China constantly let off the hook here or in other tech circles, when it always was a brutal dictatorship with no elections to begin with? Is it because westerners relate less to the Chinese because of their race or something? Or because they don't want to admit that THEY directly profit from China's dictatorship and its industry (and capital)? whereas nothing they use gets build in Russia?

> and who knows what Google did

We know one thing they did: withdrew from the Chinese market in 2010. Despite it being the second largest economy in the world, and them having an extremely successful search service there.

Apple gets lambasted for activities in China all the time by many of the same people

> Apple gets lambasted for activities in China all the time by many of the same people

Apple released new iPhones a few days ago, can you point me to the comments on HN on the new iPhone threads talking about their relationship with China?

It's not in every single thread but it's frequently mentioned.

And many of the same people likely buy iPhones.

It is important to note, that in Apple's case the problem is made worse by the fact that on iOS there are no ways to install the app bypassing the appstore.

That makes Apple's cooperation with dictators and authocrats so much worse for their users. You know, the people Apple claims to care about and 'protect'.

Rainbow flag once a month bails them out as usual.

They also care so much about the environment that they release almost identical phones each year with no ability to change batteries, plus make it as hard as possible to replace batteries. Any corporation which promises social Justice is a farce exploiting issues as pawns.

Apple itself is pretty much an autocratic company that believes it knows best what its customers should and should not be able to do with their products. So this is not really surprising.

To be pedantic, Apple does allow Progressive Web Apps which can bypass the App Store. (The Xbox cloud gaming app is a big one that goes down this path)

Note that I don’t support at all this decision to cooperate with an autocrat.

>To be pedantic, Apple does allow Progressive Web Apps which can bypass the App Store.

Apple is the company that is actively sabotaging PWAs.

They work just fine on iOS. Stadia does PWA as well.

No they don't work fine.

The option to install a PWA as an app is quite hidden, compared to Chrome.

They refuse to implement push notifications.

In general, Safari is dragging their feet in supporting any web standards that would allow PWAs to compete with apps installed from the App store, while at the same time being the only browser allowed on iOS.

The irony is so thick. Remember iPhone 1.0 was meant to use web apps exclusively.

Apple's "PWA" support is about as good as Microsoft Office's Apple support in the 90s. I strongly suspect for the same anticompetitive reasons.

Yes it's 100% down to wanting to protect the sanctity of the App Store ecosystem - which I do kind of understand, but don't necessarily condone.

To an extent they do but they've refused to implement a lot of important features in iOS safari that are needed for fully capable PWAs.

Which features?

getUserMedia is now supported in WebViews, so one can build, for instance, a FaceTime competitor that runs on Chrome on iOS, where it wasn't possible a few months ago. But the Fullscreen API still isn't supported, a blow to the web-based FT competitor.

What else?

Push notifications are impossible on iOS PWAs. Basically takes out a big chunk of possible apps you could build on this, no one wants e.g. a messenger that can't notify you when you get a message.

That's a good one, here's the feature request:


> no one wants e.g. a messenger that can't notify you when you get a message.

I deliberately disable push notifications in all messengers to avoids distractions, even though I'm actively using the messengers _when_ I want to sync with people.

It's great that works for you.

Other users have other priorities.

The claim was "no one wants x", the reply "I want x", your counter "others don't want x" as an attempt to dismiss the reply. That is unfair, the original claim that no one wants it was wrong and it was correct to point out that it was wrong.

The fundamental question is: would anyone choose to implement a messenger app as a PWA on a platform that doesn't support reliable notifications.

"Nobody wants...." is probably best interpreted as "No developers want to build..."

The idea of PWAs is that you make them once and they'll work on all platforms. The reality doesn't quite live up to that idea as this thread shows, but to me the idea to have single-platform PWAs still seems so odd that I would not interpret it that way. Still, if that was what was meant, then sure, I think I agree.

Not a feature per se, but being in the process of building a PWA for iOS with access to the camera, the fact that the authorization dialog pops up every time the app is opened (meaning that the permission is not saved even if the PWA has not been modified) looks like a deliberate attempt to make this technology not truly viable, because it really provides terrible UX.

Yeah, I've run into that too.

Seems to affect most/all permissions, e.g. https://bugs.webkit.org/show_bug.cgi?id=213468

Looks like persistent permissions might be in the iOS 15 beta though: https://bugs.webkit.org/show_bug.cgi?id=228317

Also appears that they're implementing the Permissions API:



Same with geolocation permission. A maps app that has to ask permission for your location every time is at a major disadvantage.

Might be fixed in the iOS 15 beta.

Also could be workaround, but looks complicated:


That "workaround" is only available for store apps, not PWAs. Apple would love if every web developer had to submit to their app store just to add features like geolocation and camera and notifications. And that's exactly what happens today.

Isn't Chrome on iOS, just like every other browser on iOS, just Safari?

Well, they all use WebViews, as far as I know, but Safari has its own browser UI "chrome".


Before iOS 14.3, getUserMedia didn't work in WebViews. See note 3: https://caniuse.com/stream

It is. It's just a skin.

Specifically, could you list features that would be relevant to a PWA that takes your electoral division as input and returns information on who to vote for?

Honestly I'm confused that if a PWA is a viable solution, why this isn't just a website?

Such PWA is easy to block because the government can block a website with it.

A native app can use push notifications (which are encrypted) to receive data and the only way to block such an app would be to block access to Apple's servers completely.

> Such PWA is easy to block because the government can block a website with it.

They can also block whichever server is hosting the API native apps connect to. Doesn't seem much of a win for native on that front, unless the data is stored permanently on device.

The app in question ("Navalny app") has a blog and voting recommendations. You can distribute information with app updates or use push notifications to transmit data (for example, new API server IP address and public key).

For example, when government tried to block Telegram, it used push notifications to send addresses of new (not yet blocked) servers to the app (of course, you can send different addresses to different devices). It helped Telegram to evade blocking and it worked.

As I understand, you cannot do it with PWA, especially if the browser doesn't encrypt DNS requests.

So with native apps the only way to block them is either block App Store completely or push on Apple to remove the app.

If the browser supports encrypted DNS and hiding SNI (which needs TLS >= 1.3) then there are chances to evade blocking with PWA. But as I understand, Safari doesn't use encrypted DNS by default (I wonder why).

The government might have only pretended that it really tried to block Telegram. The app was never removed from stores, and since both G and A did comply with such requests before abd after, I suspect that such request was never sent in the first place.

> Honestly I'm confused that if a PWA is a viable solution, why this isn't just a website?

PWA was touted in the comments as a possible alternative, but PWA on iOS is not a very viable alternative to a native app in my view.

Just because a native app could be a PWA which in turn could be a website doesn't really say much about which of these it actually should be. Most apps I use on a daily basis could technically be websites, but that misses the point of why we like using platform-native apps in the first place.

EDIT: It seems it is also a website. And that's blocked too: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28562772

> Just because a native app could be a PWA which in turn could be a website doesn't really say much about which of these it actually should be.

It's worth mentioning that Navalny's team is funded via donations, and they could poll whether PWA is a viable option for communicating with their audience.

> Just because a native app could be a PWA which in turn could be a website doesn't really say much about which of these it actually should be

Conversely, just because something could be a native app, doesn't mean that it should be.

I use as few native apps as possible, as I much prefer the stronger sandboxing provided by the browser.

Why do you think that Twitter and Reddit nag you to install their shoddy native apps every time you visit their shoddy websites?

> Apple does allow Progressive Web Apps

In my view the PWA route is pretty crippled on iOS compared to what's available on Android - so its usefulness as an alternative is extremely limited.

As I understand, PWAs are easy to block - you just need to block access to a web server. And native apps have more possibilities to evade blocking: they can use non-standard protocols, P2P protocols, receive data via pushes. So to block a native app one would have to block access to App Store.

unfortunately, the website from which such PWA might be loaded is also blocked in Russia.

PWAs are a market failure [1], and the deployment/utilization of them approximates 0%, including on Android where, the many comments tell us, it's a high power panacea.

[1] - Though it is astonishing how well the cloud gaming options work as PWAs. The one place where they've made any headway.

Not sure why you're being downvoted so heavily. Nothing you said was wrong.

As per my other comment, I don't tend to agree that PWA is a decent alternative but that's a different point altogether.

PWAs do exist on iOS, as you correctly point out.

Previously, Google usually ignored such requests, but seems to have finally gave in. If they are willing to remove the app, what's next, disclosing personal information to help the regime with repressions, preventing access from Russia to other Google resources, removing YouTube videos? The "we comply with local laws" clause effectively puts citizens of opperssive regime at a disadvantage. It's not like I had an impression somebody else besides citizens of the country in question can help to fight the power, but sad news like this disillusion even more.

Google obeys Russian laws. Of course they'll disclose any information they have given proper police request. They did that many times in the past. With Russia and with other countries.

Do you expect Google to go partisan war against Russian government?

>Do you expect Google to go partisan war against Russian government?

Expect? To some degree, yes, for example they do not remove "illegal" YouTube videos yet. Would like to? Absolutely.

I'd expect them to predict this problem and design a system where it's not a problem. They'd specifically built a system that allows them to do this

Then Google employees would start getting arrested, and whatever would be left of Google in the country would comply anyway, achieving nothing but the imprisonment of more people. Google Russia's employees don't have diplomatic immunity.

How long would other western companies continue doing business in Russia if that started happening?

The most profitable choice for them is to stay in Russia and obey the government. They have no reason to leave or risk getting the same treatment as Google by disobeying.

As long as it continued to be profitable, obviously.

> they do not remove "illegal" YouTube videos yet

They don't? They do "remove" them in Germany, though it's typically enough to set your location to outside Germany, they're not strongly geo-fenced. I assume they do similar things in Russia. They don't need to remove them globally to be compliant with local laws, as those laws typically end at the border of the nation they're operating in.

Why didn't they remove Navalny's videos from YouTube then?

I guess because Russian authorities did not make a proper requests for doing so.

They have though. Kremlin has made plenty of effort in trying to delete individual videos and the whole channels.

So far Google/Youtube have not complied. Let's see what happens after today's developments...

It is a totally different thing. App store apps are localized, Youtube is currently global.

Not really; Youtube has a mechanism for geographically restricting videos. Germans could talk for hours about it ;)

Two different things; removing something from everyone versus blocking something from specific userbase.

If you read it again, you will find it is the same thing.

Not really. It is totally different policy. Somebody asking removing content from the whole world, because of their limited local legalization versus just not showing it for this limited area. From the perspective of some users, it might be the same result. However, the content is still there and can be accessed from the different route.

Both youtube and app store are local and remove/block by regions; so if something is removed from multiple regions, it is because it infringes some law in all regions.

Not all videos are available everywhere, probably for copyright reasons. It does mean that their system is capable of region blocking though.

There is a difference on availability and removal.

Everything is global, I hate that modern tech tries to bring back some kind of "illusion" of borders.

Navalny's organization FBK has an extremist status given by a Russian court, so legally speaking all their YT channels could be wiped in a split second.

Do you expect Google to go partisan war against Russian government?

Google already does this. It promotes opposition and western propaganda in the search results and YouTube.

If you're Russian and just register on YouTube, for the first few weeks you'll be flooded with videos of Navalny and his cronies.

Yes, Brin's $100B can arm a lot of Russians.

$100B/$60k USD = 1.6 million soldiers feed, and armed for a year.

If he is a patriotic Russia who he claims himself to be, he should do that instead.

Never seen that Brin stated he's patriot of Russia. Do you have any proofs?

Besides, arm who? Arm us, Russians to do what? Destroy our own country like e.g. Ukraine did?

So that western corporations destroy all the industry (suppress competition and create bigger market for western goods), destroy even agriculture (US and EU farmers would be happy to supply their food to a new market, keeping agriculture production in neo-colonies is not necessary)?

It all already happened in Ukraine, Georgia, to some lesser extent in Balitc states and Eastern Europe.

I really hope that our people are not stupid to fall into this trap.

> It all already happened in ... Georgia

Hm, let's see

Russia: https://tradingeconomics.com/russia/gdp

Georgia: https://tradingeconomics.com/georgia/gdp

What it should prove? Where exactly should I look?

Well, it's kind of obvious, that Georgia is poverty-stricken country. It's possible to visit Georgia for anyone. Millions of tourists from Russia visits Georgia every year. We can see that there's extreme poverty in Georgia everywhere. Unemployment, energy shortage, lack of future perspectives. These problems will get only worse due to COVID-19 and global energy crisis (Georgia doesn't possess significant fossil fuels deposits, it has to import everything from abroad).

You can simply click Compare, then pick the other country.

> Unemployment, energy shortage, lack of future perspectives.

Have you been in Russia outside of >500k cities? Even Tver, one of the oldest and most famous, is going precisely nowhere.

Yes, I've traveled almost everywhere in Russia, and some regions are poor. But even poorest of Russian regions are richer than Georgia. And this discrepancy will increase, not in favor of Georgia.

> Besides, arm who? Arm us, Russians to do what? Destroy our own country like e.g. Ukraine did?

Ukraine is by no means "destroyed," it is reinvigorated, it's renewed. It went from a post-soviet satrapy into the modern world. I want Russia to follow its path.

> I really hope that our people are not stupid to fall into this trap.

Are you perhaps a Putinist?

Ukraine is by no means "destroyed," it is reinvigorated, it's renewed.

In all areas of life, it's position severly declined since 1991 and especially after coup of 2014.

Population is rapidly declining.

Industry is destroyed. Shipbuilding, aviation construction is dead. As almost all other industry areas.

Corruption is all time high (even EU leaders openly say this).

What is reinvigorated, renewed? The next step is selling lumber and even the earth itself to the West. Both options are already discussed (maybe even approved already, I don't really follow news from Ukraine).

Are you perhaps a Putinist?

I'm and I don't see anything wrong with it. He saved Russia from the eventual collapse where it was led by Gorbachev, Yeltsin and their western puppeteers. I'm very grateful to him for that.

>> Are you perhaps a Putinist?

> I'm and I don't see anything wrong with it. He saved Russia from the eventual collapse where it was led by Gorbachev, Yeltsin and their western puppeteers. I'm very grateful to him for that.

This is so wrong. Putinism is a absurd, pernicious ideology. Your ideological upbringing been bad.

To call a mafia-state, a freedom is delusional. It's like slaves fighting for the right to be enslaved.

To call a mafia-state, a freedom is delusional.

I didn't use the word "freedom". There's no ideology in the current Russia, unfortunately. Neithr good, nor bad.

I guess you're from Ukraine (sorry, if I'm wrong). If anything, Ukraine is much closer to mafia-state than Russia. Corruption in Ukraine is so high now, that even presidents of EU country alert their citizens to avoid doing any business with Ukraine.

It's like slaves fighting for the right to be enslaved.

Why are we slaves? I'm free to go anywhere. I'm free to say anything in my country. I can say that Putin is bad. I can say that Putin is good. There will be no repercussions in both cases. Unlike in "free" Ukraine, where it is forbidden by law to speak Russian, for example.

Also, you fail to see how US and EU betrayed Ukraine. They don't need "free" Ukraine, although elections are a perfect way to control their puppets: if a puppet attempts to do something unpleasant, there's easy way for US, controlling all the media, to choose another, more conformable, puppet. This is why "democracy" and "elections" are of utmost importance to US in the third-world countries. Easy way to install comprador puppets.

They need Ukraine which they can plunder (via e.g. Burisma Holdings). They need Ukraine that doesn't compete on the global markets with EU and USA, so they destroyed all the industry in Ukraine (it's impossible to deny that). They need a source cheap labour - hence tens of millions of Ukrainians are doing poorly paid jobs in Europe.

That's the freedom I should wish for? No, thanks, take it back, please.

I don’t think USA asked for Kolomoisky to come launder money here

That's 1.5 times the Russian regular army, which could be tripled in a week with mobilization. Not gonna work.

It will, because the mobilisation will of course not work.

Nobody want to die for Putin. That's why he switched to mercenaries in Ukraine, because use of regular troops regularly returning to Russia in bodybags was about to become the straw which would've broken camel's back.

That's a huge misconception. But I guess it would be better for Russia if you continue to live in your dreams.

Those mercenaries are in the first tier of reserves anyway and it wouldn't be their choice but army on mobilization.

And if they are, then maybe, it's even better.

If their first option is this bad, then others must be completely useless.

It's in reverse: Russia has a 1 year long mandatory military service for men aged 18-26 inclusively; roughly 30% serve it, guess which part of the IQ curve doesn't want to spend a year painting grass to green during winter.

The first tier of reserves are anyone who did it and are under 35, as well as officers under 45-60 dependent on rank, the other 2 tiers are either unfit or older. The average Ivan in the first class reserve is pro-government, poor and without higher education.

Google had also went back on their word on halting to provide information to the HK/Chinese government after the national security law has been enacted.

>If they are willing to remove the app, what's next, disclosing personal information

Both Apple and Google share all requested information in the US, so why is this any different? If Apple or Google should "do better" the change need to be made in the US at first. Pointing fingers while down in the mud doesn't really do any good.

When watching this week's iPhone keynote, it occurred to me that while they were showing all their environmental credentials, which seems to be given more prominence every time, what I'd really like to see is a slide on "supporting freedom and democracy".

Apple do have the resources, influence and brand equity to make some strides here and it doesn't have to be completely philanthropic either - it can make business sense to edge towards being better in some of these areas.

At the moment it feels a bit disingenuous to be so self-congratulatory on the environmental progress [1] when we're constantly reading articles about the conditions in their supply chain (which they do have responsibility for, despite the often touted excuse of "they're not their factories").

[1] I don't mean to talk down the importance of the environmental stuff - just that it's only one part of a wide spectrum of ethical areas that I think Apple could be addressing.

I liked how after showing all their environmental credentials, they released a phone which is basically the same thing as last year and none of their devices allow easy battery changes and they actively make it harder for third parties to do it.

Apple makes it easier to replace a battery than Samsung phones.

They only charge $69 for an out of warranty battery replacement. You can mail it in or go to an Apple store. Is there any modern (and waterproof) phone you can have a battery replaced easier or for less?


It is time to ask Google and Apple if they were asked to actually remove Telegram from stores, when russian government was trying to ban it.

It wasn't removed at the time, and all sources that Apple and Google were demanded to block it in Russia pointed to press-release on RosKomNadzor itself.

I suspect that it is possible that all this Telegram block in Russia was a PR campaign coordinated with Russian government to give Telegram a reputation of a messenger that doesn't abide to tyrannical governments.

it is possible, but it's also true that telegram bot is the only platform of Navalny smart vote service that keeps working(aside text file circulating all over the internet)

I wonder why all modern hipsters ignore email as a platform. Like, Telegram on behest of Apple and Google repeatedly bans flibusta bots (a site with a great collection of pirated books), why don't they make an email bot? What would Apple do, ban their own mail app? Start censoring emails?

Votesmart started out with mailing lists. Then somehow lists got leaked, and some of the people who subscribed using the same mail they used in government services got visited by police. You also need phone number to register in most emails btw, and the legal requirement for having a sim card is to register it to your passport.

0. Well, it is being done when possible. But it's not a 100% way of reaching people. 1. State terrorism. People are genuinely afraid to give their email addresses, and for a good reason. 2. Email delivery. Email doesn't work as good as you think. In addition to the typical technical email delivery problems, there are also specific to Russia. Many people are using local Russian email services. But those have shown to be dependent on Kremlin. For example Smart Voting lists had "strange" delivery problems for recipient in the mail.ru service (one of the most popular in Russia).

0. if you send an email with a command, 99% of mail services will not spam-filter the reply to it

1. Spare emails, like, lots of them

2. Users of mail.ru and such are their own worst enemy, and it's not like getting gmail address is particularly difficult

> and it's not like getting gmail address is particularly difficult

Last time I checked I couldn't create a new gmail account without a new phone number.

For Russians, Gmail accounts aren't filtered on the orders of censorship agencies. It's only national mail services like mail.ru that belong to Putin's oligarchs that do such things

Many disadvantages comparing with realtime messaging

For a service delivering a file or a list of names? Compared to a blocked and non-functioning bot?

Anyway, emails these days are nearly instantaneous too, not that much slower than, say, WhatsApp

I teach to university kids, and I know for sure: for many of them email is too complicated and they don't know how to use it.

it's sad, but it's like this.

They might just try different methods.

Also Telegram is deeply integrated into Russian infrastructure. Fair amount of the private companies use it as the main communication medium. Government entities use it to communicate the news. Lots of common non-political folks use it.

I would bet trade-off of upsetting non-relevant folks to the hit of the unfavorable party doesn't really pay off. Apple and Google may move their employees after these events.

>Also Telegram is deeply integrated into Russian infrastructure

I'd argue both apple and google are well-integrated too. A lot of businesses and people depend on them and sometimes in very unexpected places. For example, apparently yandex's own smart speaker uses to test internet connectivity. A lot of services use recaptcha too.

I think you are wrong. It seems like Telegram it's the only platform where Navalny's team has still some space and freedom.

Would be a historical coordination if true.

It wasn't really difficult on RKN part, if true. Just announce something and not act on it.

More context to why using apps, not websites or email:

Smart Voting website is hosted on Google App Engine (appspot.com). The Russian government had no ability to block it for long time without affecting other Google services, since ISPs could block mostly by IP and via DNS spoofing.

To block reliably by domain they would need to have DPI (deep packet inspection) hardware, and most ISPs had no DPI, since it's expensive. Even if they had it, they could only block by domain/ip, not by traffic signatures and reaction time was relatively slow.

Now they improved censorship infrastructure and basically building Great Firewall. As I understand government controlled DPIs are now installed on Internet exchange points. So it's easier to block specific domains and protocols. Recently they:

- were throttling Twitter (and every website with t.co substring, yeah)

- blocked some opposition websites hosted on Appspot

- DNS over HTTPS (DoH) servers used in the app (Google, Cloudflare, OpenDNS)

- Bunny CDN, used in the app

- docs.google.com, telegra.ph (voting list was published there)

- DHT and BitTorrent

- started blocking some VPN providers and attempted to block Wireguard protocol

I think some of blocks (e.g. torrent) were used to test capability. Now that they can slow down websites and block more accurately, they have more leverage over tech companies.

Apps have more ways to avoid blocking than websites and PWAs. E.g. by getting endpoints/data via updates, notifications, domain fronting. So the obvious next step was to attack app stores.


You could enter your email on the website, but some of the emails got leaked. Considering many people used personal email addresses, it was possible to combine it with other leaks/DBs to get more personal information. Police visited some people registered on the website. So I guess people trust less giving their email addresses now.

This is absolutely different from removing Parleur from AppStore and Google Play, of course. Completely different. Apple and Google should immediately pull out of Russia!

Totally different. That slippery slop is just a fallacy.

China's too big of a market - companies have to comply with local authoritarian regime demands. Russia's too big of a market - companies have to comply with local authoritarian regime demands. It really helps that North Korea and Afghanistan are dirt poor.

  Russia's too big of a market
Russia's GDP: $1.710 trillion

Texas GSP: $1.9 trillion

So Texas is also too big a market?

Texas is big enough of a market that it can effectively define textbook standards for the rest of the US, so yes.



Just trying to put some context around "big".

FWIW: China GDP $16.64 trillion

Hmm, I fail to see the consequences of the Russian market from Google and Apple's perspective. The Russian market is kind of inconsequential if Google, Apple lost the relationship for noncompliance with the Russian state.

You think maybe the US State Department told them to comply? There is probably a lot of user data that Google, Apple get from Russians by having access to that market.

Money is money. There are tens of millions of users there. They don't want to lose a single penny.

With adequate profit, capital is very bold. A certain 10 per cent. will ensure its employment anywhere; 20 per cent. certain will produce eagerness; 50 per cent., positive audacity; 100 per cent. will make it ready to trample on all human laws; 300 per cent., and there is not a crime at which it will scruple, nor a risk it will not run, even to the chance of its owner being hanged. (с) Thomas Dunning

They wouldn’t lose much money, would all these people go to Chinese language phones?

A good case showing that centralized walled app stores are bad and reduce users’ choices

Here we go again, “AppleGoogle should stand up to the government!”

This is a very naive view of how these companies work. They are so massive that they have to figure out how to operate __lawfully__ under wildly different jurisdictions. When they operate in countries like Russia that have different values than the United States, people get upset and blame the company.

What we should really be doing is blaming the governments and try holding them to account.

The only other option, which is crazy, would be for these massive tech companies to acquire their own militaries so they can impose their values on the world.

Imagine an iPhone 18 commercial that touts privacy. It would show a fleet of Apple aircraft carriers with Apple bombers and Apple special forces teams standing by to coerce a government official that wants to search your iPhone to stand down.

It’s kind of a silly joke, but at some level that’s where we’re at.

Money is money. Thats sad but predictable. The future web should be decentralized.

> Money is money. Thats sad but predictable. The future web should be decentralized.

The web is already decentralized, by design. It's just that people are all flocking to the exact same services and providers for "convenience". Nobody has to use Google services, or buy an iPhone and use iPhone apps. Google isn't the web.

What the web needs is to be distributed in order to be more resilient or even evade censorship. But users need to care first. Don't give all your private information to Google, don't use walled gardens like the app store...

> The web is already decentralized, by design.

App stores and Youtube are not decentralized. See: Peertube and Linux repositories.

App stores and Youtube are not the web.

They are important parts of the web, which are used by millions. Technically, web is decentralized, but in practice large parts of it aren't. Same for email, which is owned by Google to a large degree.

Instead of asking Google and Apple to pull from Russia we should better think about ourselves pulling from them.

(Based on reading just one article, I've never seen or used the app) Seems like all the app did was serve as list of candidates, 225 electoral districts long, and a map from street address to electoral district.

Surely this can be trivially implemented as a website, in a matter of hours, no? It looks like the mistake Navalny's team made was trusting one method of distribution of information. Even worse, trusting a method with a central and corporate choke point.

That aside, I'm disgusted, but not surprised, at Google's actions.

It is implemented as website, but blocked by regular DPI censorship mechanisms deployed in Russia.

They started a blocking campaign against popular VPN providers as well before elections, making it harder for older and less tech-savvy people to access information from the opposition.

I guess that apps have implemented some routing and device caching mechanisms to ensure more user-friendly approach for "regular" people who don't want to spend too much time figuring out how to avoid censorship.

Aaah, what a great example of sofa advisor...

What makes you think they didn't try?

Their websites were blocked long before the regime started to name FBK as extrimists and they switched to apps particularly because apps is harder to block. They probably just didn't expect google&apple to become so much accommodating so quickly.

One of the reasons why they did what they did is because the regime said they would take the local staff as hostages if they'll fail to comply (aka "the staff is responsible for the law breaches made by the company").

This proves one thing - we need non-centralized application distribution mechaism which could not be censored. Neither Apple or Google or any 3rd party should control what I install on my phone.

I know that unlike iOS, Android users can install programs directly or via alternative app stores on their phones. Direct installation is burdensome and does not provide updates. Alternative app stores (e.g. Amazon) are also controlled by corporations. We need a trully distributed censon-proof app store!

I wonder why they didn't post the database to Github. That would have been very hard to block and data could then be exchanged p2p.

Just another reminder that you should never delude yourself into thinking these companies are a force for anything moral or ethical.

They censor/remove apps based on political viewpoints of whatever is currently en vogue all the time, even in the US. We have already accepted this slope while it was being used against one political faction in a recent election. Everything from not allowing legitimate news to be posted or deleting your post if you mention specific whistleblower names, to editing the contents of private messages, to banning individuals, to banning apps. You are either for censorship, or you are against it, and it's not an a la carte deal based on your political leanings or an individual topic. As we allow, and cheer on censorship in some cases, I fully expect more and more to come as others look around and see how they got away with it, and it will eventually hit something you hold dear. But you'll happily accept it because you were for censoring that other thing and you're not a hypocrite, right?

There is obviously a conflict of interest here, but strategic voting scams are generally harmful to the political process. In particular they tend to concentrate power in the two incumbent parties over time.

You don't need an app for strategic voting. The proponents of the scheme will tell you who to vote for.

The app is how they tell you.

Lots of chauvinism and nationalism here, pretty offputting really.

This was always the logical consequence when big tech companies started listening to various requests from random countries about their own domestic laws. One wonders what would today look like if they only enforced US law and told the other countries to fuck off and block them if it was really that necessary for national security or whatever reason they give.

Most arguments are against Apple and Google. Playing devils advocate here. If let’s say trump created an app to show how many people support him in USA and it shows 60% of voting population support him during election time, what would you want these companies to do ? IMHO meddling in countries’ election should be a strong NO.

Interesting they made an app in the first place, can they move the activity to a website, maybe multiple domains?

They won't be able to effectively advertise it. In Russia websites can be blocked without court right away. Means as quick as some domain reaches at least some notable traffic it will be blocked. And in this case cat will be winning the mouse. Cause mouse won't effectively reach the audience.

That's also the reason why Navalny's team is heavily utilizing public resources backed by big tech (e.g. Google docs, Appspot, etc) with a hope that big tech won't ban the team and Russian government won't be brave enough to block the entire platform.

Also a couple words about resource blocking: every ISP is obliged by law to install some kind of DPI solution to block traffic. And the solution sadly became much more efficient in recent months than it was years ago.

They used several ways. Website, Telegram bot, mailing list, app. Website and telegram bot are reported to face DDoS, though website seems healthy now. App is blocked. Mailing list managed to deliver me advice of "Smart Vote", I'm surprised now it was not blocked as a spam by all major mail-providers.

They have bot in telegram @smartvotebot

Do they have a PWA option? Or an ordinary web site?

The world needs to get away from closed stores and back to open systems.

Ordinary web sites are quickly blocked and are not accessible without a VPN. Some popular VPN providers are blocked too. The app, once installed, appears to be more resistant to state-level disruption. At least until law enforcement pays a visit to Moscow offices, and then magically Apple and Google side with Putin.

Why isn't it hard to block access to the back-end services that the app communicates with? If it doesn't require back-end services, then why is it more resilient than an offline PWA?

I do not know what technique this app used, but in practice apps are more resilient. It has been shown by Telegram which more or less successfully evaded blocking in Russia. I think it's a combination of lower-level network API, traffic obfuscation libraries, push notifications, and hosting some info on public services which cannot be blocked without affecting too many people. But it is just a guess.

We're in a pandemic of cowardness.

Can you rely on businesses to be ethical or to not succumb to political pressure? The answer is no.

To bring a bit of perspective on everything, it's good to remember that democracy, or what the West idealises as such, is not necessarily the ultimate regime that every country in the world needs to follow right now for its own sake.

Of course there are places when power is abused, taken, stolen from entire populations but not every society is fit or ready for what we'd like to think as the world standard of governance.

Cultural, historical reasons, micro and macro economies, ethnic groups, religions, resources... This kind of evolution takes time. Generations. Ages.

And to be honest, even if the grass looks greener in our pasture, the fundamentals of democracy are meant to evolve as well in the West. For the best I hope. Feels like it's been taking hits when we entered the information age.

Government officials supposedly threated these companies employees with jail time. I'm mostly critical towards these corporations the only bad guy here is only Russia government.

While this is bad, yet I see this part as Russian deception in layers: While we are gasping on Google's actions, few note that the results of the election were never in question.

Well, if their fault. None of this could happen if we have freedom on software distribution. The moral of this story is, don't use non-free computers.

If people had been wiser, you could call out the removal of people from platforms. That ship has sailed because people weren't wise...

In cases like this, why aren’t people using react native or even plain web apps?

Seems to me you could avoid that whole obstacle.

Some of my friends from ex-USSR countries (not Russia) are telling me it's available there on Google Play.

iOS version has been removed from Russia App Store only as evidenced by this letter https://twitter.com/ioannZH/status/1438750081402953728/photo...

I would guess the same applies to Google Play

The vast majority of electoral votes is going to be cast in Russia either way.

I mean the app isn't removed, maybe just hidden from search for Russian users.

No, if (and only if) your Google Play region is set to Russia, the app isn’t accessible, not even via a direct link. This is how a local ban works: while it isn’t strictly speaking deletion as the files are manifestly still on Google’s servers, the users from the relevant country are locked out.

So the circumvention is as easy as changing region, installing the app, changing region back?

I think there’s a mandatory year’s delay before a second manual change is possible? At least I vaguely remember something like that back from when I moved. Google also recently force-switched me to the US (!) because that’s where the VPS provider I use to host a personal VPN is incorporated (but not where the VPS itself is located, funnily enough). So, not impossible, but not entirely trivial either. APKMirror or something similar sounds like a more viable approach. And Apple users are completely screwed from what I understand.

Two things of note, however:

- It’s all well and good fooling around with APKs (the devs aren’t completely opposed to just publishing them as files, either), but the primary value of the centralized repos is as a seed distribution mechanism for censorship circumvention: if something completely unforeseen happens and none of the pre-arranged responses work, you know you’ll just be able to push an update through the repo, and the Russian government would have to cripple most devices in the country to prevent that. That no longer holds.

(Google Docs was blocked via SNI sniffing on cellular networks for about half a day yesterday, though, so I’ll have to revise my estimates of what they’re willing to break.)

- The primary issue is tactical voting lists for the parliamentary election (they published them on Docs as well, see?). That election started this morning, Friday 17, and will end on Sunday 19. After that point most of this will be moot. So any approach that you can’t inform most of your users about in that time span is useless.

(This is in contrast to the protracted battles over Telegram some time ago, which took place over a couple of years.)

Curse the US polititians and press for promoting the “foreign election interference” meme, now US companies are forced to comply or the Russian government will be able to cry hypocrisy. The equivalence is invalid when considered in full, of course, but the slogan was “foreigner influencing elections = bad”, and with that level of detail it is valid. That’s the problem with slogans: they eliminate nuance.

(The EU slogan, “foreign tech company flouting local law = bad”, would also be exploitable here, but thankfully it didn’t penetrate that far. Note that I support most of the specific values of “law” this slogan was originally instantiated with!)

You can just have multiple Google accounts on the same phone for different countries and switch to a different store this way.

Or people could sideload the app on their phone.

Sorry, are you asking a clarifying question or trying to suggest that makes it OK?

Asking. Perhaps it was a clever move from Google to formally satisfy government demand, without actually blocking the app for motivates users.

See my response above: timing is crucial in this instance. A clever workaround that takes more than three days to propagate is useless.

As another matter of timing, note that Apple (for which no such easy workarounds are possible) and Google did this simultaneously at about 8:00 UTC+3 today. I’ve heard speculation that they couldn’t cave in before even if they wanted because then the other wouldn’t and the bad press would hit only the one who did. Now the coordination problem is apparently solved. I’m not expecting good things.

No, it does show a "not found" page for me on Google Play, as if it never existed. Not even the usual complete app listing with "not available in your country".

edit: screenshots https://imgur.com/a/aZqPSQR

I guess, the important question is what happened to the app copies already installed on the phones? Do they still work? Can they still receive push notifications?

If they're still working - it's much less of an issue. The fact of pulling the app is still serious but surely everyone who wanted to participate had the app pre-installed for a while. If that's the case then Russian tsar's demands for pulling the app off the AppStore are just another example of your classical bureaucracy fuck-up.

Of course, these are free countries both formally and informally (except for certain areas like Belarus and Krim)

Why wouldn't it?

But Apple and Google fight for progressive values and are working to ensure a better future by protecting our planet.


The most important thing for these companies is money.

Money above ever other consideration.

Money money money.

Human rights … whatever.

Politics …. Whatever.

Democracy …. Whatever.

Money money money money.

It's the motivator for their employees as well, or did you think they work on profile-creation, all-encompassing tracking and ad-delivery because they honestly believe it's the best thing to do for humanity?

Is the functionality of the app not reproducible with perhaps Discord or similar?

There's no way Apple or any company to act as an extralegal entity in another country. Every time something like that comes up, I'm baffled by the expectation that an American company will impose the American values or American laws in another country.

Back in the day when the internet felt like international thing not bound by any local laws, that was possible to some degrees but legislators caught up with it.

It is obvious that you don't sell your crypto finance stuff to Americans, you don't make anti-Putin stuff for Russians, you don't give Saudis encrypted messaging, you don't give Turks gambling apps, you don't sell Nazi stuff to Germans etc. on the internet, unless you are ready to face repercussions. They can try to find a legal angle if they believe there is one and that it will benefit them more than harm them but often there isn't one because gambling is illegal in Turkey, SEC has strict securities regulations in the USA, Putin has an absolute power in Russia and Saudis simply don't allow it.

There is no way Apple or Google or any company facing the repercussions of not complying to the laws of Russia, therefore they will remove from the Russian AppStore whatever they are told to remove.

Allowing alternative AppStores also wouldn't solve it but only delegate it to the people who run those alternative AppStores. Technological solutions to political problems work up until the politicians catch up. The more effective the technological solution the faster they catch up and take care of it.

StarLink for example, a swarm of satellites that can technically provide unrestricted internet to anyone on the planet, will obey the local laws depending on where the user is connecting from.

I know the technologist don't like it but there's no way around it. If you are in Russia, you are in Russia. Get rid of Putin, form a functioning democracy if you like to live in western-like country. No company is not going to provide you with the environment that people in the west built through struggles for generations.

Freedom from oppression is not an American value, and Americans need to stop thinking that. It is a universal value, cherished by people all over the world, including in Russia. The russian people is being taken advantage of by a small oligarchy that steals their resources, and the app that Google and Apple removed was supposed to help them transition to more democracy during the upcoming elections.

The outrage is perfectly justified.

If there's something that Russians don't like, they need to fix it themselves.

You should Google Afghanistan, or pretty much any Middle-Eastern country that was liberated by the Americans. See how well it ended.

Why the fuck americans think it's all about them? This news is about an app, no one is asking USA to bomb putin for fuck sake.

They are fixing it themselves. And in the process of fixing it, they made an app. Google and Apple prevented the distribution of this app.

> Google and Apple prevented the distribution of this app.

The Russian government made them. Please don’t twist the causality chain to push an agenda.

The regime asked them to, and at that point, they had the choice between siding with the regime, or the people. They chose the regime.

How a company sides with people instead of the regime that governs the country? Describe please.

By not deleting the app.

Which is means, employees of Apple in Russia go to jail, accounts frozen, offices raided, documents and equipment seized, sales of iPhone banned, access to Apple servers blocked.

What do you achieve with this?

The app is up. Have you ever heard about a butterfly effect? And this is not even a butterfly's wing flap.

That’s something that the public would do. It’s not up to the corporations.

Govt says take that down, the company takes it down, public outrage ensues, govt takes a step back, the company brings it back.

The good thing about governments is that you actually pick the management. Even in not so democratic places it is common and acceptable to take down poor managers through any means.

With companies, you only can hope that the CEO is capable and ethical. That’s why it’s not OK for them to go extralegal. They are supposed to function within the law and their obligations are to the shareholders.

> That’s something that the public would do. It’s not up to the corporations.

Corporations consist of people.

Sure, just as the government

It really is a lowest common denominator. American companies would never impose American values, but they'll bend the knee to any authoritarian country with a juicy market.

Can you please describe what it means to "bend a knee"? It sounds like following the local laws to me. Do you mean something else? What else they are supposed to do? Act as a rough agent? Be the East India Company of the century, recruit mercenaries and compel foreign nations to work they see fit?

There is no law in Russia that prevents Apple from hosting an app called Navalny published by Roman Rubanov. The content of the app is also legal even by Russian standards: it is basically a list of officially registered candidates supported by Navalny.

Maybe you should e-mail Apple and tell them. Give them a law and a business lesson.

Anyway, the idea is that legal or not, it's up to the Russian people to create the environment. Maybe it's legal according to the text(I wouldn't know, not a Russian lawyer) but due to the corruption and power distribution maybe Putin can simply do whatever he wants. A gadget company cannot fix this, if you like to fix it you need to fix it yourself and then you can have companies publishing the Apps you like.

You cannot delegate the job of creating a government and juridical system that has integrity to an American company. It's unreasonable to expect such a thing.

Don't sell stuff in that country and act like the saviour of human rights in the other.

> American companies would never impose American values

s/never/always, without even realising/

(they globalised FOSTA/SESTA, for example)

They are not supposed to impose American values abroad. How would you like, if Chinese companies would be imposing Chinese values in US?


Google and Apple were and still are not complying with Russian laws in many cases [1][2][3][4]. It's being fined and threatened in Russia. So it's not that they comply or not. It's just that they are very picky on when to comply and when not to.

[1] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/russia-apple-google-fine-threat... [2] https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/17/russia-asks-google-and-apple... [3] https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2021/05/24/russia-gives-googl... [4] https://archive.is/1TbdB

> Allowing alternative AppStores also wouldn't solve it but only delegate it to the people who run those alternative AppStores.

That's the point, though. In and near moral and legal gray zones there's a whole range of plausible judgements; currently there is only not room for anything beyond that set by the incumbents.

Not to mention cases like when people get deplatformed simply for business or political reasons (like Blizzard shutting off individuals outside of China to keep the Chinese market or Apple with the FlickType keyboard).

They could not do business there.

How this helps Russians? What Apple gets from it?

Integrity? That just show what their priorities are.

Integrity of what exactly?

This is the definition of Integrity: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrity

It means that whatever apple says, they are only driven by the market. Any stance they have on privacy or security is pure bullshit, they don't and will never give a crap about it, they only care about their revenue, otherwise they wouldn't be in China for example.

In this case, it proves that whatever they say about their stupid store and authoritarian approach to it, it is not and will never be in the interest of their users. It is just to make it easy for apple to enforce anything, whatever the source of the decision is, a dictator like here, or to destroy competition before launching their own crap like their keyboard on their watch.

If apple would have cared once about their customers, they wouldn't have created an ecosystem that jailed them and would still make it easy for users to install the app they want.

When Apple said that they will go vigilante to serve their customers?

It's kind of obvious that any claim they make is implied to be within the limits of the government. Like every other legal company ever.

There were no cannabis Apps in the US App Store up until the US decided to allow it. Were the users wronged by Apple when it was illegal?

No it is not that obvious and that's my whole point. The real goal of their app store is not user convenience, security or safety, it's to be able to fully control what the user can and cannot do. They created the perfect environment to enforce this kind of decision, because that's what their real goal is, this kind of news shows it. They need to remove all freedom from their users, to feel safe as a business in any kind of market.

If Apple had integrity, they would allow to install apps outside of the store and other stores. This way they could still be within the limits of governments while not putting their own customers in bad situations, but they are fighting really hard against it.

I think it's obvious. You can tell that by Apple not being a criminal organisation.

I'm talking about integrity, not criminality though. They could have rolled out an update allowing users to install apps outside of the store instead of just removing the app from the store for example.

What integrity? They lost it, when they started kicking US dissidents off their platform.

Luckily, those who already installed the app can continue to use it.


Does this mean Google and Apple don't believe in its success? It seems logical that if it actually succeeded the elected officials would protect Google and Apple from prosecution.

Sad times!

if Russians are OK with current regime, why corps should fight for them

Putin is the only president who spend many many months living in a bunker 24x7, hiding from the coronavirus. I rarely seen a more fearful person than Putin.

How is that different from Apple and Google removing apps of Trump supporters and social media companies closing their communication channels?

Is it democratic, as opposed to this case, just because companies did it without an official request from the government/courts?

Here's comes to mind the old saying: "a King only has to think about something, and others will do it without him even asking. Smaller players will need to actually request and even use the brute force to get things done".

As a side note, Navalny is not a democrat, he's a racist, but somehow gets labelled as democrat in western media just because he's against Putin.

Beyond even Trump supporters, Twitter banned Trump himself. (While he was still the democratically-elected president!)

Among those alarmed by the move were...Navalny, who described it as "an unacceptable act of censorship".


He also publicly supported Biden on last elections. So?

>he's a racist

No, he is not.

Navalny was against banning a right-wing group from protesting and exercising their freedom of speech. He explicitly condemned their racism and hatred but said it was wrong to limit their freedom of speech:

>In late 2006, Navalny appealed to the Moscow City Hall, asking it to grant permission to conduct the nationalist 2006 Russian march. However, he added that Yabloko (Navalny's party) condemned "any ethnic or racial hatred and any xenophobia" and called on the police to oppose "any fascist, Nazi, xenophobic manifestations".

> >he's a racist

> No, he is not.

Yes, he is.

For example, he never distanced himself from this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVNJiO10SWw

Even if you don't speak Russian, the message is clear. People in the USA have been labelled as racists for much lesser offences.


A quick google “Navalny racist” will bring many sources, some of them in English, that points to his various racist incidents.

I watched the video, and it is clear that the video is advocating the right for personal firearms. I saw no racism in the video. Unless you would consider any depiction of criminals racist unless it shows criminals of all races (which I am won't).

How would people would feel if there were Chinese backed apps in the AppStore that were used for tactical voting in the US presidential elections? With the express purpose to aid a specific candidate.

Is navalny's app backed by a foreign entity ?

This is the main party line right now - "Navalny is Soros' agent and Smart Voting is election interference".

I don't know about Soros, but e.g. the Swedish government is supporting him quite heavily.

Would you consider Smart Voting to be "interference" if Chinese backed activists promoted it in the US?

Of course not, especially if the interference is on the level of "One activist's teenage daughter has a TikTok account" like it is in Navalny's case.

I thought Navalny was better organized than that, given the millions we shower him with and his 50+ staff.

> the Swedish government is supporting him quite heavily

In what way? The Nordic countries basically made a joint press release calling upon Putin to release him back in 2020, but that's about it? That's not much more than lip service.

Also, one of the labs that verified that he was poisoned with Novichok is located in Sweden, I suppose (the other one in France).

He is, by more than one. This is no different than the "Russian meddling in our election" BS.

"Specifically, officials say the four American firms named in the letter are supporting users to access the Smart Voting website set up by supporters of jailed opposition figure Alexey Navalny, as well as a mobile phone application used by campaigners. Navalny’s operations were branded a ‘foreign agent’ by the country’s Ministry of Justice over links to foreign funding, and his organizations were later deemed to be ‘extremist’ and banned by a court in Moscow." [0]

You can say whatever you want about how evil Google is or isn't, but this article is super misleading when Google simply following the law of the land it's operating in. It's doomed if it pulls the app and doomed if it doesn't.

[0] http://web.archive.org/web/20210913070717/https://www.rt.com...

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