Apple has deployed a large battery of user privacy measures less where they are most needed: in China
During the inaugural talk of WWDC 2021 Apple spoke about Private Relay, its new technology aimed at protecting our privacy. With her it is possible make our browsing data opaque to the rest of the world, effectively protecting those transmissions.
The problem with this option is that it will be available almost everywhere in the world, but not in China, where once again, the Cupertino company complies with the conditions set by the Asian giant. The decision is certainly debatable.
Mr money is a powerful gentleman
It is evident that as they stood out and Reuters China is a very important market for Apple, but so is the uncompromising defense of privacy that the company always does is conditional on the region of the map where you are.
The Chinese regime strongly regulates access to the internet and technologies such as VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), and that is precisely one of the reasons why Private Relay – which is essentially a VPN – will not be available to users of the Apple ecosystem in that country.
In fact already in 2017 Apple decided to remove various apps from VPN services from the App Store, one more example of how China was tightening the nuts on Apple (and many other companies).
With Private Relay, the traffic generated by the user is encrypted and sent so that no one can see the content of the browsing data. According to those responsible for Apple, this traffic hidden from both internet service providers (ISPs) and advertisers and even Apple itself.
However, that option will not be available in China – nor in Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Colombia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Turkmenistan, Uganda and the Philippines – and that re-reveal the favor deal required by the Asian giant for Apple to operate there.
China and favor deals
These special conditions and favorable treatment have been extensively analyzed. en The New York Times. It explains how entering China was vital in making Apple what it is today: practically all its products are assembled there and a fifth of their income, they say in the newspaper, comes from this country.
The concessions are many, and it is significant that Apple has removed the slogan “Designed by Apple in California” from the back of its iPhones. More concerning is the fact that Apple has already accepted that Chinese customer data will be stored on servers in China.
That these data have ended up there has caused something also surprising: Apple has provided the data of an unspecified number of iCloud accounts to the Chinese government in nine cases, and has only tried to counter three government requests according to the NYT.
That decision contrasts with the iron negative that Apple gave to the FBI when it asked the Cupertino company to help unlock the iPhone in a murder investigation. The company never gave up and the FBI had to find out These data by another way.
Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International Asia Director, explained how “You don’t see Apple’s resistance to the Chinese government’s behavior. He does not have a history of defending the principles that Apple claims to be so attached to. “
This attitude in fact contrasts with the trade war between the United States and China, something that has been very expensive for Chinese manufacturers such as Huawei but has not had an impact in the case of Apple.
This favoritism is also clear in Apple’s attitude of censorship in the Chinese version of the App Store, where, according to the NYT, the Cupertino firm has caused “tens of thousands of applications to disappear in recent years, including foreign media, gay dating services or encrypted messaging applications. “
All this shows that Apple’s position on privacy is not the same in China as outside of that country. Not only that: also highlights a debate that certainly does not leave in a good place to the company run by Tim Cook.