"Sometime in 2014 or early 2015, China’s State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping told members of the Apple Maps team to make the Diaoyu Islands, the objects of a long-running territorial dispute between China and Japan, appear large even when users zoomed out from them. Chinese regulators also threatened to withhold approval of the first Apple Watch, scheduled for release in 2015, if Apple didn’t comply with the unusual request, according to internal documents.
Some members of the team back at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., initially balked at the demand. But the Maps app had become a priority for Apple, so eventually the company complied. The Diaoyu Islands, when viewed in Apple Maps in mainland China, continue to appear on a larger scale than surrounding territories."
Apple has, and will, fold to government pressure faster than a lawn chair.
E.g. If you view the map of India while in India, it'll appear different than if you viewed it in China.
You absolutely can and must. That is, in fact, one of the prerogatives of a superpower.
[USA did a similar oversizing trick with WMD and the belief that Irak was the 4th biggest army in the world]
[calm down, USA patriots, all the countries do use the same tricks.]
Edit: It was this - http://www.redistrictinggame.org/game.php
It looks like someone has made one here though:
But those maps do describe reality.
If one candidate in a district gets 100,000 votes and another 85,000 votes, both would go to congress and each would get that many vote-points. Rather than number of representative votes, voting outcomes would be determined by who has more vote-points. That way if you have three similarly sized districts, District X and District Y where 40% want party A and 60% want party B, and then district Z where you have 90% want party A and only 10% want party B, you'd still end up with .4/3+.4/3+.9/3 (56%) votes for party A rather than 67% for party B, regardless of how you redistrict. Plus you'd have asymmetric interests where opposing parties would represent the same districts so they would be incentivized to work together, and also some representation for minority regional parties who may align with one party on some issues and another on others.
To limit budgets, I guess there would have to be a maximum number of candidates per district, maybe filtering out anyone who does not have at least 10% of the vote (or some other number determined by some reasonable formula), an option for candidates who don't meet the threshold to reallocate their vote-points to someone who did (or a ranked choice voting system that keeps going until everyone remaining has the minimum vote threshold), and maybe no matter what you'd at least send two candidates unless literally only one candidate had votes.
This would also have a side effect of incentivizing more people to vote and allow people to vote with a bit less strategy and more earnestness.
It feels silly but there are manipulative reasons to do this.
A consequence of the projection chosen, applied uniformly (e.g. Mercator, which also makes Greenland and Alaska ludicrously large)? Or do you mean maps that enlarged Europe specifically? Mercator is dumb (for anything other than navigation), but there is a significant difference here. China is doing the latter.
Can you provide information or citations for this?
> China says "X must be visible at zoom level Y instead of at Y-5".
That's not the claim made in the thread above: "Sometime in 2014 or early 2015, China’s State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping told members of the Apple Maps team to make the Diaoyu Islands, the objects of a long-running territorial dispute between China and Japan, appear large even when users zoomed out from them." Can you provide any citation to the contrary?
Expanding on this; Mercator is useful for navigation because it's conformal, i.e. it preserves angles. When you're plotting the course of a ship, this is very convenient.
Only when maps were used for other purposes was there any reason to develop other projections.
> It displays how messed up China is more than anything else.
Eh, the USSR was made bigger on maps for decades because of US "4-year-old level lies". This is not even in the same ballpark.
China has over a billion people. That one middle manager in the maps department is personally offended by territory appearing smaller, has zero relation to the rest of the country and shouldn't affect your opinion.
Many bureaucrats in the USA draw stupid lines in sand that nobody cares about, yet the USA is a strong superpower nonetheless.
OTOH I don't have much confidence in the middle manager theory, either.
In foreign affairs, Beijing is sovereign - including anything related to the Senkaku / Diaoyu islands which are presently owned by Japan. So in this respect you are right.
For local matters, there is considerable flexibility and internal conflict. Currently, Beijing encourages citizens to find fault and report administrative issues at local levels, but will brook no dissent of its own management. In domestic administration China is less coherent than your claim.
All of the above could be equally true in a non-authoritarian form of government. I would argue that China's authoritarian politics are largely orthogonal to its degree of federation.
Your social credit score will go down if you do.
I am pretty sure China considers itself a "democracy" in the original meaning of the word: "rule of the people" (thus the focus on "People" in "People's Republic of China" and in many other official names). Basically, anyone can rise to power by going through the ranks of the communist party, and people are elected and voted for.
I wouldn't consider it a democracy even in that basic sense because of the disregard for basic human rights and freedoms, and it surely is not one in the modern political sense of multi-party systems.
Similarly, one could argue that the de-facto two-party system in the USA is not very democratic either, as it's not unlike a single-party system in China: you go through the ranks of the *party* to progress. It's the other things that make USA more of a democracy (freedom of speech and protections against unsubstantiated persecution, for example, and sure, ability to start a party too — even if it's inconsequential).
> .. the obfuscated coordinate system for geo-aligning maps ..
Roads are not aligned to the satellite imagery for example.
Not defending what I see as childish China the slightest, but one should be aware that even the best democracies don't necessarily publish entirely correct maps, and it is on purpose ;-)
can't remote-boom-boom if you can't know where they are
hm that means 2 things there...
Interesting. Was that really true? Why did they need to change the value?
Do you mean you are reporting these sites?
I'm not supporting China territorial claims, but I don't expect anything different from their government. I did however expected better from the U.S.
Full disclosure I work at Google.
Google Search for example was heavily modified for the Chinese market.
If by ‘works’ you mean it allows searches that China finds acceptable.
Do you mean something other than Project Dragonfly, which was terminated?
(And yes, the "old" Google of the Brin area is gone. I also don't think Steve Jobs would kowtow to the CCP and compromise Apple like Cook is doing. The post 2010-era is now run on bean-counter ethics)
What happens in Google Earth?
What does it look like in google earth when you look at the islands?
from OUTSIDE china... Are these same islands 'cencored' in these apps outside china as well in the same manner? (specifically in SATELLITE view)
Imagine a country that prevents its citizens from recording a song they hear and sharing it with their friends. Oh, wait, US more or less does that and forces other countries to implement policies that prevent it or they will ban trade with those countries.
Not to mention that the US government gets any data it wants from banks, telcos, social media, google, etc., which is called metadata surveillance here in the US but it is used to formulate a variety of social "scores" such as one's likelihood to commit "terrorism", etc.
The US GPS system had the signals obfuscated for years so that precise geo coordinates were only available for non-civilian uses. Why bother altering the maps if you can alter the GPS signals. This was rolled back only because hacks were found to work around it.
False analogy. No-one claims copy-write on the physical world. Well, not except the CCP.
I think the analogy is perfectly valid anyway. You're just trying to find an excuse to compensate a dissonance. But all rules are arbitrary.
Eg the lights on that tower in france
Building designs are man-made and in any case this is about taking photographs and not replicating man-made designs.
Your comment implies a singular chilling thing, while his does not.
There's a big gap between a private individual looking around, and lots of private individuals coordinating to look at everything all the time.
Modern technology is making that gap larger year after year.
Detailed (<1:2500000) topographic maps were automatically classified as a state secret, and restricted on a "need to know" basis outside of the military until 1989.
A detailed article on this explaining how and why they went about it: http://www.hundzor.org/lj/10postnikov.pdf
'Where the streets go' is strategically valuable information.
Apparently, the resolution was to create political POV versions, although the default seems to lean toward a "Western-centric" direction.
As a publicly-traded, trillion dollar company, where profits are at stake, this would seem to make sense.
What does not seem to make sense is why anyone would believe Apple might ignore its own financial interests and those of its shareholders and deliberately sacrifice a major opportunity^1 in order to resist government pressure based on some political issue. Why would anyone hold such an assumption. There is nothing to support it^2 and it does not seem to make any sense.
1. That includes the opportunity for Chinese customers to purchase the Apple Watch, albeit with a disproportional size representation of some geographical aspect in the Maps application
2. NB. If resisting government pressure resulted in an increase or no change in profits then that is a different situation. In that case, resisting, or even appearing to resist governmental pressure, would seem to make sense.
To put it another way, no one should be surprised by decisions like this one, whereas some of us should be surprised if we ever learn that a publicly-traded company with the market cap of Apple deliberately sacrificed an opportunity like selling to the Chinese market^3 because of a political issue. It is doubtful we would ever learn about such a decision, for various reasons.
3. Or using Chinese manufacturing facilities
"But the Maps app had become a priority for Apple..."
Apple acts in its own interests. It seems strange that anyone would believe that it acts in someone else's. Unless it increases profits, that would not make any sense.
Generally, large companies do not protect citizens from abuses of government. It is supposed to the the other way around. Governments are supposed to protect citizens from abuses of large corporations.
Because that is what Tim Cook Apple's marketing and PR suggest Apple does. The force of good. Social Responsibility and Justice. Standing up against the government. ( They didn't explicitly say this but the message is something fairly similar )
Instead of creating "insanely" great product for our customers, friends and family. It is now about product that "enrich" people's lives.
Like you said, Apple has to act on its own interest. Most of these wouldn't be problem for many had Apple not paint itself as so righteous.
Do corporations have so much better a record of living up to feel-good marketing & PR, that a experienced and competent adult would actually take them at their word?
Just like you and me, then, and the rest of humanity. But we also have good in us, don't we?
People should note that just because someone is aiming for an ethical ideal doesn’t mean that the way there is bound to be perfect—those who are quick to point out other people’s hypocrisies always rest on this fallacy. Apple isn’t perfect, but it seems to be the only big tech company making great strides towards being zero-carbon and pushing for user privacy in democratic countries, and when they were called out about parts of their supply chain using oppressed Uighur Muslim labor, they corrected it.
- pointed out China is confusing its politics with business
- thrown this out to a shareholder vote
- tried to see what customers outside of China thought
- threatened to pull all manufacturing out of China
- required China concede control elsewhere: Apple can operate in China without CP mucking around and could own 51% of more of everything it runs
Goodness gracious serious companies understand there's more going on in international business that top-line numbers.
1) 'Pointing out to China it's confusing politics with business' implies a total misunderstanding of their posture, their view of governance, and would probably be antagonistically insulting. It also assumes they are operating in 'good faith', which they are not.
'Politics is Business' to them, they know exactly what they are doing and they have most of the leverage so you risk only ire with that tact.
2) 'Thrown this to a shareholder vote' - so this is definitely not the type of things shareholders vote on, nor do they want to, moreover, the 'transparency' and news cycle this would create would be damaging. This is a 'secret agreement' for a good reason. Shareholders do not care about censorship, they generally just want to see performance.
3) What customers outside of China think is completely irrelevant to China.
4) Threatened to pull all manufacturing out. You definitely do not want to threaten your largest market with anything, but yes, you could hint that it might be best elsewhere. That said, it's a magnanimous threat for something relatively small.
5) There is absolutely no way the CCP is going to 'concede' on any of their red line issues. They are dictating the terms of leverage and oversight to Apple and everyone else. Apple has very little room to manoeuvre here.
The only choice cook had was to play friendly on a personal level, kiss ass, make sure that they felt Apple's interest were aligned with China, and to promise to do a bunch of things they were asking, and then hope they go away.
The issue with China's hyper nationalist economic strategy has to be dealt with at a higher level, i.e. US and European political leaders and industry leaders working together on one page.
You write like China has a lock on this ... like it's the perfect lobby. There's only one perfect lobby: and that's the NRA in Doonesbury cartoons.
> Goodness gracious serious companies understand there's more going on
That's what you get when your management is exclusively MBAs that never set foot outside of their bubbles and STEM-graduates that are naive in history/geopolitics/economy, etc
Directors must use their powers in “the best interests of the company.” but "business judgment rule gives directors nearly absolute protection from judicial second-guessing about how to best serve the company and its shareholders."
There should be laws that US companies can only cowtoe to the US government WRT free speech.
In this case - it appears to only be happening in China - which I guess is fair game.
But the line should be drawn at China being able to use its market to force US companies to censor people outside of China.
I'd say that depends on whether the subsidiary in China is financially independent from the mothership. If Apple in US profits from censorship in China or subsidizes it, it's not unreasonable for US to interfere with that.
I guess with tech companies - "operate in" is a little unclear. Someone in China can visit your website (assuming it's not blocked by TGF) - and it might be very difficult for you to know (they could be using some Proxy or VPN).
In Apple's case - they literally have stores selling phones in China. AFAIK, that's how most people get their iPhones in China.
In the US - you have to pass all kind of FTC obstacles to sell a device. In China & other countries - it's the same way.
It seems like an overstep for the US to say - "We get to say what devices are available in every country." It also seems like an overstep for the US to say China can't have a Great Firewall and Censorship even if that's extremely "un-American". Us having free speech is extremely "un-CCP" - but for the time being - we've still got it [=
More abstractly, corporations are artificial legal entities that are created by governments in the first place. So why can't governments restrict what those artificial entities can and cannot do?
China could give a s*t what American laws are.
They are pressuring Apple to take some actions, if Apple doesn't want to take those actions, for whatever reason including 'American law forbids them' - then they're out of the market.
Those are the terms presented to them, and the CCP is not bluffing.
As far as 'censoring people outside China' that is actually a line that Apple can probably actually hold.
If that starts happening - American companies need to be FORCED to exit the Chinese market and keep free speech. Otherwise, it's a simple P&L calculation - and China will win. Apple is not going to lose 20% of their global sales because they block some Wikipedia articles about Tiananmen Square. But if China cuts off their sales because they won't - they would lose 20% of their sales. If we allow companies to go down this path - the entire world will end up censored pretty quickly.
Just as China does not care about American law - US companies don't give a shit about human rights. They just give a shit about P&L.
So again, that 'feels right' - but this is not a 'moral' issue, it's a 'power' issue.
That it's 'unreasonable' that China should be able to censor outside of it's borders is kind of besides the point.
What matters is the materiality of their power.
In China, they can basically dictate terms and that's it.
China could feasibly threaten to block Apple in China unless some 'foreign censorship' is done on their behalf, the reason US companies should not concede, is because they don't have to.
For a couple of small things, they might get away with it but on the whole, it's something Apple can push back on ... because they can, not because they have some kind of moral high ground.
The social/moral posturing will be used as part of negotiation, but it's just superficial dressing on the underlying power.
US, Can, Aus, Europe need to get on the same page with respect to China.
I feel deja vu from the beginning of WWII - Germany growing and gaining power and becoming more aggressive while nearby countries (and further-away ones - US+CA+AU) are ignoring the threat, or trying to pacify them with small concessions and sacrifices...
This is why it's important for the public in stronger democracies to know about these deals and terms.
Compare the NBA reaction to Daryl Morey tweet about HK protests, and the WTA reaction to Peng Shui situation. Tides are shifting.
But, the appeal of such a large consumerist market (funny, since it's supposedly "communist") like China is not going to become any easier to ignore going forward.
The weird thing about your viewpoint is that it gives the perception of capitalism without actually understanding anything about how businesses function. It is like the pro-capitalist government employee's understanding of capitalism. It accepts capitalism but also accepts that capitalism is evil...it is a very weird viewpoint (you also see this in the ESG departments of large fund managers...people who hate capitalism, view it as inherently unfair...but work at a fund manager, it is very 2020s).
But to spell it out: if you do not respect stakeholders other than shareholders, your business will die because no-one needs you. Your shareholders needing you is not why a business exists. A business exists because it creates value for other people. One of the biggest problems today is that corporate leaders do not understand this, and they end up losing shareholders massive amounts of money. But it is important to be very clear: Tim Cook is a wage worker, executives are wage workers, they are not business owners, they do not act like business owners, their aim is not to maximise shareholder value, their aim is to maximise their wealth. If there is ownership, it is a dual share class dictatorship, it isn't an alignment of interests.
The big problem with China is that, whether you sign deals with the govt or not, the govt needs to have direct control over businesses in order to maintain political control. We are talking about a country where large businesses have CCP officials inside the business, the red phone to the CCP in the CEO's office...business is politics, AAPL doing this deal means they are part of the CCP. The CCP don't care about your shareholders, they don't care about your employees or customers, their aim is to stay in govt and die at an old age in their bed, not violently hanging from a lamppost. That is why the govt heavily favours large businesses, that is why they have done deals with large US tech companies (MSFT is the other one, MSFT are neck deep in Chinese politics now) but it won't work.
I actually know people who are very familiar with the thinking on this at AAPL. They do not understand Chinese politics at all. They think China is just a better version of the US, more meritocratic (seriously), less political instability (again, seriously), and more accommodating to special interests (...seriously). I think the assumption people make is: AAPL understand what is going on...they do not, the reason they are doing things like this is because they don't understand (AAPL is one of the worst for this kind of thing, their executives are extremely aggressive in everything they do, they take home far more than they are worth, and they understand almost nothing outside of their business...if you look at GOOGL or AMZN, it is quite different).
He is purely out for his own wealth. He is one of the most absurdly overpaid execs in the US. How anyone can become a billionaire as an employee is utterly beyond me. Taking no risk, getting all the reward.
You are thinking of all employees as fungible replaceable units, but employees are capitalistic units that can get monopoly power or economic rents.
An employee can provide a function that can’t be replaced, and that employee can capture a lot of the business profits, well beyond their actual “value” to the business. For example, Tim Cook’s personal relationship with Chinese officials might be very hard to replace.
Alternatively there is a kind of blackmail value, where losing a prominent employee can have high costs to the business, and the employee can get paid more than they are “worth” due to that. For example, perhaps Tim Cook leaving would cause more than a few billion damage in profits or valuation due to perceptions.
Again, it is important to realise too...there are probably no other CEOs that have made as much as Tim Cook. Even amongst execs, he is wildly wildly wildly overpaid. Corporate governance at AAPL is basically non-existent.
The obvious relevant example of replacing a CEO with a ham sandwich is John Sculley, which the organisation probably still has some fear about. The other relevant example is Paul Allen, a lost decade for Microsoft.
Apple has a business to run. They abide by all sorts of requests in various countries in which they operate. Of course there has to be a line somewhere, I'm just not sure this is it.
It would be interesting to talk about what organizations like Apple can and cannot do; what is effective and what isn't. Is there any research?
Apple should not be deceiving people outside China with CCP propaganda, which is what the maps are.
Until Apple has a redundant supply and manufacturing chain, it’s absurd to expect them to resist the CCP.
I hope they are building it.
... And a a shareholder, I was also kept in the dark -- Which is actually also pretty problematic and deceptive.
As for being a shareholder kept in the dark, that’s absurd. I am a shareholder too, and almost no operational details about apple are available to us, which is totally normal.
Would you expect a big pop "WARNING: THIS CONTENT IS SHOWN DIFFERENTLY IN MAINLAND CHINA DUE TO REGULATIONS!"? Also, this will mostly yield a well-duh response. The only "appropriate" option in scale would be to put it somewhere in the fine print (IMO), but this is so close to not mentioning it at all that they might as well not.
Also, I don't think there's a general expectation for website to be the same everywhere. If you open google.com from Germany, would you be suprised to see Google in German? Project Gutenberg also was unavailable in Germany for quite some time; I don't think they informed every non-German reader about it.
> ... And a[s] a shareholder, I was also kept in the dark -- Which is actually also pretty problematic and deceptive.
I'm pretty sure they don't inform shareholders over standard legal requests. They probably didn't ping you about FCC restricted radio frequencies either.
It's not that I generally agree with censoring, but I don't think Apple acted unreasonably here.
I must have misunderstood. Thanks for pointing that out.
We can find other examples, however. For example, Apple avoiding movies, etc. on Apple TV that challenge the CCP.
Lots of moral on the Internet, but then when it touches getting the next gadget, or saving some bucks...
If you want to control what maps Apple shows in China, then ask the government to do it. Assuming you can convince Congress to do anything at all, they still wouldn't take any meaningful action against China because they aren't going to voluntarily widen our trade deficit. We barely have enough economic leverage to pressure them to be slightly better at enforcing IP. We aren't going to spare any for meaningless virtue signaling.
> It would be interesting to talk about what organizations like Apple can and cannot do; what is effective and what isn't. Is there any research?
It took extreme sanctions and the most sophisticated cyberattack in history to get Iran to make concessions on its nuclear program (until Trump decided to reject the agreement). China has a much stronger economy and more allies.
Isn't that exactly what Apple did by moving factories to China?
> Assuming you can convince Congress to do anything at all, they still wouldn't take any meaningful action against China because they aren't going to voluntarily widen our trade deficit.
Clearly Congress (and the Executive Branch, which is responsible for foreign policy) does plenty that is meaningful.
Companies do moral things all the time, being run by people and being, like people, tied to a community that they care about (often, to a degree) and which greatly affects the company. Without enlightened self-interest, and some broader self-interest, the society that provides customers, investors, employees, roads, security, markets, etc. - it collapses. The Middle Ages weren't good for business.
There are some additional rules for public companies, but in general, businesses can have whatever purpose "members of the company" (it's actually a legal term in many jurisdictions) agree on.
If China (and similar repressive regimes) wants these sorts of products with onerous restrictions built in, they should have to build them themselves.
Of course, I do recognize that this is perhaps somewhat hypocritical: the OFAC list in the US comes to mind (which makes it illegal for US entities to do business with entities in certain "bad" countries). I'm reminded of GitHub's fight to allow people from Iran to use GitHub. I get the purpose of sanctions on Iran, but hurting regular Iranian citizens with these sorts of bans does nothing to punish or put pressure on the people who are actually the targets of sanctions.
I'd also like to add that they are, for the most part, already building our products quite literally. Being on the bad side of China might've a farther reach than just missing out on a few customers.
Yeah it's hard, but if they aren't willing to do it, maybe we as a society should enact laws to force their hand? It's not like it's an impossible task.
The only worry is if that's also the point where their products will also be more advanced and thus more appealing regardless of the price.
I'll spin up a British Virgin Islands company or buy another passport first in response to any legislation aimed at preventing business with those whales
Others are already 5 steps ahead of me
Alternatively, US citizenship doesn't guarantee any beneficiary of national security or evacuation from another place when shit hits the fan.
So before I answer your question, what did you mean specifically?
It's better to figure out an exit (imo) than continue to capitulate on these kinds of things, particularly in a country that is hostile to foreign companies and IP (and particularly if one of your company values is the privacy of your users).
>>Peter Thiel: Well I think, again those aren’t the only two possibilities, I don’t think they created very much, I think a lot of it was just handed over from the west so it wasn’t even stolen.
You know, I criticized Google a few years ago for refusing to work on its AI technology on Project Maven with the U.S. military, but working with Chinese universities and Chinese researchers. And since everything in China is a civilian- military fusion, Google was effectively working with the Chinese military, not with the American military. And there was sort of this question, “Why Google was doing this?” And one of the things that I was sort of told by some of the insiders at Google was they figured they might as well give the technology out through the front door, because if they didn’t give it – it would get stolen anyway.
>>Peter Thiel: I had a set of conversations with some of the Google people in the deep mind AI technology, “is your AI being used to run the concentration camps in Xinjiang?” and “Well, We don’t know and don’t ask any questions.” You have this almost magical thinking that by pretending that everything is fine, that’s how you engage and have a conversation. And you make the world better. And it’s some combination of wishful thinking. It’s useful idiots, you know, it’s CCP fifth columnist collaborators. So it’s some super position of all these things. But I think if you think of it ideologically or in terms of human rights or something like that, I’m tempted to say it’s just profoundly racist. It’s like saying that because they look different, they’re not white people, they don’t have the same rights. It’s something super wrong. But I don’t quite know how you unlock that.
Thiel hasn't even done that. His position seems to be that American companies should work with the US Military, but shouldn't work with the Chinese military. Such a position is certainly partisan, but it isn't hypocritical.
Try patriotic, or more cynically nationalistic.
1. An adherent to a party or faction.
2. A fervent, sometimes militant, supporter or proponent of a party, cause, faction, person, or idea.
Maybe that word isn't judgemental enough for you, but it fits and I used it carefully.
It’s Google leadership capitulating to the (imo naive) politics of its workforce to not work with the USG, while continuing to support the governments of adversaries (because largely American politics ignores the plight of people in places like KSA and China under a weak kind of moral relativism).
If you genuinely believe that, then putting ever more powerful intelligence gathering tools in the hands of western governments, even at some risk of threats to freedoms in the west, might seem reasonable.
That’s especially true if you have good confidence in the checks and balances in the free west to prevent the worst abuses of such tools, and that the threats are truly dire.
Otherwise more attacks will happen and the reflexive response will be an increase in authoritarianism at the expense of western ideals.
I don’t personally agree with his support of trump (I see it as a partisan blind spot because of his Cato institute Republican identity) to me trump increases authoritarian risk in the US. Otherwise I agree with a lot of Thiel’s positions, even where I disagree it’s rare that his position is not thoughtful.
As much as I dislike Thiel, he does have a point there: Russia is actively funding misinformation campaigns with the aim of splintering Europe (e.g. by funding far-right political parties like the AfD in Germany or the Brexiteers in the UK), and China is a threat on a geo-political level (New Belt Road) as well as a military threat (e.g. Taiwan), not to mention their Third Reich-inspired genocide against the Uyghurs and Tibetans.
The world is in a "war of cultures" indeed - the remnants of the Western democracies versus strong authoritarian governments. And we haven't found a way to counter Russian or Chinese political ambitions yet.
> That’s especially true if you have good confidence in the checks and balances in the free west to prevent the worst abuses of such tools, and that the threats are truly dire.
Under normal circumstances, that confidence would be valid. Unfortunately, we have our own actors who have an interest in tearing down these "checks and balances" for their own gains (e.g. the Republicans systematically destroying trust in public institutions, from elections to the integrity of the FBI, or Poland and Hungary where the rulers want to stay in power and enrich themselves and their friends)... which means we as Western nations are in a "lose-lose" situation. We can't combat propaganda effectively for a variety of reasons, and as a result of that the propaganda tears down our societies.
I believe such a struggle exists as well. But I have my doubts whether one would find him fighting AGAINST the authoritarians.
He's just pro-Western civilization and pro-US.
"Apple" is not some abstract entity. There are people behind Apple (the shareholders, the managers, the employees). Real people, with real morals and values. I don't think that the only thing all of them care about is "running a business" and that all of them feel it absolves them from acting humanly. It's more complicated than that. (having said that, of course, greed is always strong).
I think that is precisely why this has been leaked. Some people inside Apple obviously are fed up with what Apple is doing. I would imagine especially those working in operation and supply chain.
There were lots of signs this was happening since 2016 if you are watching Apple supply chain over the years. But it is the first time we got some sort of evidence.
That fiduciary responsibility meme needs to die already. The flimsiest business justification is enough to cover company leadership's ass. Instead of "We refuse to do business with China because it's immoral" they need merely say "because we believe it's in the long term strategic interests of the company."
Again, stop it. The companies you want exist, they just go insolvent before you ever notice them. If you want to change the way the companies operate, you have to change the system, you can't just expect companies to "do the right thing" in an environment that penalizes them for that.
You can't have the free market cake and eat the ideological high ground at the same time.
Regardless, nothing you said refutes me. "Fiduciary responsibility" does not legally compel Apple to do business in China. If anything, such misconceptions about fiduciary duty are espoused by libertarians online, not rebuked by them.
And even if we go down that rabbit hole, we just become more like China with some kind of state mandated moral code that can be easily perverted...maybe we can't really win on this.
Lots of companies are able to exist without giving in to completely silly demands like "increase the size of these islands".
> If you want change
Actually, customers are able to cause lots of economic damages to companies, or their employees.
There is more that one way to Target Apple employees than what you suggested.
Target them personally, make them personally responsible for the actions that they did while thinking that they were some faceless entity in the machine, and make them toxic entities to hire or work with.
Sure, the company itself might be able to insulate itself from consequences, but not the individuals themselves. It would make people think twice about the actual negative effects of their actions, if they knew it would put them on blacklists.
Companies are run by people. It is not some faceless AI. Instead, decisions are made by individuals. And individuals are vulnerable.
When pressed about the financial prudence of prioritizing environmental outcomes Tim Cook snapped: "When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind, I don't consider the bloody ROI." It was also not limited to accessibility, but applicable to many areas Apple desires to lead.
The conclusion is that Apple is explicitly not interested in prioritizing individual liberty.
Must they be pure or completely evil?
Companies have many focuses, including profit, of course, and also morality. Look at the behaviors of the world's leading companies. They need to survive and operate in society, not a Darwinian cleanroom, and they will lose a lot of customers, employees, investors, sympathetic elected officials, and more if they act like objectivists.
And then people rightly condemn them for it. Because not getting a pass even when the pressure is strong -- especially when the pressure is strong -- is the only incentive we can give them to even try to resist that pressure.
That sucks for them. It puts them between a rock and a hard place.
Because the alternative is that nobody fights against wrong.
Also, too bad because they are hardly orphan children caught on a battlefield. They are among the most power actors out there. I'd say, 'deal with it', but they don't complain.
The maps analogy is that it's one thing for the Chinese government to tell Apple to implement a mapping app from scratch so that it can be used to display bogus mapping data. It's quite another for the Chinese government to tell Apple to modify its existing Maps app data.
In light of the inherent amorality of companies that you are pointing out, the people working in these companies should be smart enough not to go out of their way to place themselves in situations with such moral hazards. Apple shouldn't be building weapons.
There is no novel technology in this. It’s very basic stuff doing a specific thing. It’s in no way a meaningful stepping stone to doing anything else.
If you’re against Apple scanning images uploaded to iCloud for CSAM that’s fine, say that, but it’s no stepping stone. If you’re not against Apple scanning CSAM uploaded to their servers, as they are actually required to do by law, then it’s a non-issue.
No, that's not how any of it works. Apple scans and matches your photos, on your device, against a list of hashes that represent government provided images that Apple has no knowledge of. The stipulation that images are only scanned when uploaded to Apple servers is a courtesy, not a technical limitation. The exact courtesy that would be rescinded by pressure from the Chinese government.
> If you’re not against Apple scanning CSAM uploaded to their servers, as they are actually required to do by law, then it’s a non-issue.
The law explicitly stipulates that Apple is _not_ required to scan photos for CSAM. The text of the law  explicitly protects people's privacy in the section titled "Protection of Privacy".
The scan is performed in the code that does the uploading, so it is a hard limitation of the implementation. They can't push a button to make it scan other photos, they would have to make significant code changes. Not hard code changes, none of this is hard or a major technology achievement, but the current implementation does one specific thing and that thing only.
On the legal requirement, huh, it looks like you're quite right. They are choosing to scan for CSMA loaded into their service. Good for them.
There's nothing to stop the Chinese government requiring Apple to make whatever code changes they require anyway.
The CSAM issue was mostly misunderstood by HN imo.
You just agree with the complaint that yes apple was scanning people's devices in certain circumstances.
The intention of the implementation is that if a user asks Apple to upload CSAM to iCloud, that Apple has the ability to check it and stop that CSAM landing on their servers. They don't want it there, and feel they have a right to check for it in advance so their servers are clear of CSAM and it stays on the user's phone. Frankly I think that's a reasonable attitude to take to CSAM.
Ok, and thats the problem. Because the scan is on the user's device. No, I don't think they should have the right to use someone else's device, that the individual owns, like that.
I just have a problem with Apple suggesting they are doing "good" with X, promising "good" with Y, with a big smile on its face in marketing, pumping up PR to the maximum. But every time you scrutinize the details they just dont hold up.
BTW people may want to look at Samsung's market share in China. Hint: it is a single digit number.
These megacorps have a big influence on the fabric of society.
They must be held to a higher standard.
They don't need and shouldn't make any difference at all. They could actually leave the Chinese market and make a difference for the rest of the world. They don't have and shouldn't have this responsibility anyway.
And they have the money, market share, and power to ignore China and not only survive it but continue to generate a lot of wealth for the shareholders.
Local investment requests however aren't novel - India have made similar requests which Apple have also fulfilled. China is only notable here because they have consistent human rights abuse issues, and with that there is a certain idealism that any kind of interaction with such a country is a form of consent.
While Apple's situation here isn't particularly noteworthy, it's a good proxy for a wider question about US companies reliance on China.
Also those with a keen eye would notice that China hasn't given Apple much here - they are still regularly admonished by the state-run press and Apple have only a handful of their most basic services available in the country.
Great point. Some movements are so anxious to minimize (or undermine) goverment that people get carried away, and forget all the things democracies can do and have done. We simply have to decide to do things as a people. China, for sure, is happy to see us divided.
It doesn’t really make sense that the Chinese government would be pressuring Apple directly to make political changes to the map provided by AutoNavi. If they wanted the map drawn differently they could just pass a law requiring it or go straight to AutoNavi with the request.
Of course the story could still be true (I have no idea), but not mentioning AutoNavi kind of strains its credibility.
Notice the FBI doesn’t whine about iPhones anymore.
Instead everything remains unencrypted.
Frankly it makes me doubt the veracity of some of the activists who go off the handle when these types of controversies pop up.
Literally every online storage service is analyzing user content for various reasons, but I don’t see any hue and cry over it. The Apple approach was a novel take imo.
Another recent one was the Covid bluetooth exposure notifications that were cleverly designed in a way that preserved privacy. People on HN with no understanding of how it worked freaked out and as a result instead of that smart privacy preserving approach governments just bought location data or implemented other centralized information systems that are much worse for privacy.
If I worked in policy it'd be hard not to roll eyes at the privacy people and just ignore them - which is definitely not what we want.
There’s functionally no difference, except one offers a future path to encryption on iCloud servers.
If this was about on device scanning without iCloud backup enabled then I’d agree with you, but it’s not.
Since the 90s, there has always been a mainstream private option. Be it Nextel, BlackBerry PIN, prepaid phones, iMessage, FaceTime, etc. Now that’s gone, and fringe stuff like Signal isn’t a replacement.
Apple / Google maps were so bare, even the proverbial crickets were missing from the maps.
When looked from my desk, Seoul's map is as detailed as any other big city now, I wonder whether it was geofenced or something. I installed a suite of apps made by local software houses to be able to navigate the city.
Here is cherry on the cake from the Australian PM:
"The laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia."
It does seem awfully unfair looking at a map though, basically China's claim comes without 10 miles of other country land borders. Nobody but the Chinese would think these claims are fair.
See Kashmir and Askai Chin.
Thinking about this other than things like existing social media, satellites... I've recently seen ads where it's like "get paid to take pictures of your neighborhood". Was wondering about that as a means to export out high res images of locations through an app.
So will any company, when threatened by China. And, btw, so will most countries.
Yes, Apple has a lot of money, but they're in no position to resist a powerful country. I don't think it's fair to expect that of them.
Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, Reddit, Twitch, Dropbox, Medium, Wikipedia, DuckDuckGo?
China is more than capable to clone and/or make its own version of these companies. And these companies will do as the government says. So, I think that's an excellent example to show that tech "boycotting" China does nothing to change them.
Separately, you should also keep in mind that a bunch of these companies didn't even have a choice, since they were considered a threat to national security by the state.
There are many large examples that just didn't, and they exited the market.
There are also many large examples that struck varying bargains. I'm sure the CCP didn't get everything they wanted from the referenced Apple deal, and there were hardliners who were pissed about it.
And then there are probably a ton of examples that don't even care to bargain and just say yes to whatever is asked.
So, complicated spectrum.
Side note, if I'm doing my quick math right, Apple's worldwide revenue is equivalent to 1.6% of China's GDP. Which is pretty impressive.
It is very material though. If your business is not special/unique in some important way, then you don't have a lot of bargaining power when the CCP officials come to negotiate the terms. Then your choices boil down to -- accept whatever is offered or exit completely. While some exited completely, I very much doubt they did so on ethical grounds, as you seem to be implying. Rather, the terms were unsatisfiable.
Trying to get some sort of an acceptable to you deal is the only thing that makes sense from a business perspective. The alternative is losing access the world's biggest market and watching the state prop up a powerful new competitor that may well compete outside the borders of China too.
If you want American companies to be able to resist Chinese govt pressure, then you need to have significant intervention from the US government and hope that they will be able to broker some sort of a deal. Failing that, it's a joke to think that any company has any actual bargaining power in a negotiation with the Chinese govt.
I'm still of the opinion it's better to operate with concessions because there is a chance of influencing the local population over time. Otherwise we end up with a completely siloed environment like has happened with parts of China's tech scene.
You can replace may with will for sure.