Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton blasted Apple Thursday for participating in "Communist censorship of an American newspaper." Cotton's attack came a day after the New York Times reported that its news apps had been removed from the App Store in China at the request of Chinese officials. Both the English and Chinese-language news apps were taken down on Dec. 23.
Apple maintains it is merely complying with local laws. But Cotton believes the iPhone maker could have done more to resist the government's request: "it instead sought to protect its market access at the expense of liberty," he said.
Cotton also invoked Apple's controversial dispute with the FBI over an encrypted iPhone in San Bernardino last year, saying, "Apple's protestations that it's merely complying with Chinese law ring hollow when, just last year, it openly challenged a U.S. court order to assist a terrorism investigation and unlock the iPhone of a dead ISIS terrorist."
At the start of the encryption battle, Cotton, who was once believed by some to be in the running for a top cabinet position in the Trump administration, was one of Apple's fiercest critics. In February he said, "Apple chose to protect a dead ISIS terrorist’s privacy over the security of the American people."
President-elect Donald Trump at the time was another outspoken critic of Apple. Trump called for a boycott of Apple products until the company compromised security tools to assist law enforcement in the investigation. He has also criticized Apple for manufacturing many of its products overseas. “We’re going to get Apple to build their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries," he said last January.
Hamza Shaban is a technology policy reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Hamza Shaban at Hamza.Shaban@buzzfeed.com.
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