The CEOs of Apple and Google spoke at a conference that critics say makes them 'complicit actors in the Chinese censorship regime' (AAPL, GOOG, GOOGL)

Tuesday, 05 December 2017, 04:39:46 AM. Reuters Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai attended this week's World Internet Conference in China. At the conference, a top Communist Party official called for tighter control of the internet. US senators asked Apple earlier this year whether the company supported the conference, quoting a critic who said attending the conference made American business officials 'complicit

You know it's a good restaurant when Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai are in the same place ! #apple #google #entrepreneurship #entrepreneur #siliconvalley #paloalto

A post shared by Steve Sims (@steveuglysims) on

Tim CookReuters

  • Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai attended this week's World Internet Conference in China.
  • At the conference, a top Communist Party official called for tighter control of the internet.
  • US senators asked Apple earlier this year whether the company supported the conference, quoting a critic who said attending the conference made American business officials "complicit actors in the Chinese censorship regime."

The CEOs of the two most valuable technology companies spoke over the weekend at a controversial event in China.

Both Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai appeared at China's World Internet Conference, a gathering the Chinese government reportedly uses to promote its strategy of tightly controlling what's available online in the country.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is calling for a “massive campaign” against fake online news stories. "There has to be a massive campaign. We have to think through every demographic," Cook said. Cook believes the fakery is "killing people's minds in a way." That's what he told The Telegraph on Friday during a visit to London. The term "fake news" was originally coined to describe online stories that are designed to deceive readers. Many times these stories are shared on Facebook and other social networking sites to generate profits for the creators.

Media: MediaOS Video

Cook gave a keynote address on Sunday. "The theme of this conference — developing a digital economy for openness and shared benefits — is a vision we at Apple share," Cook said, according to Bloomberg. "We are proud to have worked alongside many of our partners in China to help build a community that will join a common future in cyberspace."

Sundar Pichai Xiaomi founder Lei JunReuters

Pichai didn't give a speech, but he did appear on a panel with Xiaomi's founder, Lei Jun. "Technology is giving opportunities at a global scale, driving interconnectedness and cooperation, and I think it's a big trend and I think it's almost irreversible at this point," Pichai said.

Though the two star CEOs reportedly did not make remarks that touched directly on contentious policy issues, such as Apple's decision to pull VPN apps from its App Store under Chinese government pressure, or the fact that Google does not operate its services in mainland China, their appearance at the fourth annual conference lends legitimacy to the controversial event.

A top Communist Party official called for tight control of the internet while Cook was in the audience, according to The New York Times.

One opinion article described Cook as having attended to "kiss the ring." Apple registered $9.8 billion in sales in China for the most recent quarter that figures are available, just under 20% of Apple's overall revenue.

Questions from Congress

Tim Cook ChinaReuters

The sensitivity of the World Internet Conference is illustrated by a question posed to Apple and Cook by Sens. Ted Cruz and Patrick Leahy earlier this year.

The senators pointedly asked:

"Since 2014, the Chinese government has held a World Internet Conference. Charles Smith, the co-founder of the non-profit censorship monitoring website GreatFire, described foreign guests of the Conference as 'complicit actors in the Chinese censorship regime and are lending legitimacy to Lu Wei, the Cyberspace Administration of China and their heavy-handed approach to Internet governance. They are, in effect, helping to put all Chinese who stand for their constitutional right to free speech behind bars.' What role, if any, has Apple or its employees had with respect to the World Internet Conference in China? Does Apple support the conference?"

Apple's vice president for public policy, Cynthia Hogan, replied in a November 21 letter:

"Apple is not a financial sponsor of the conference. Apple has participated in the World Internet Conference in the past, and Apple employees, including our CEO, will participate in the future. We are convinced that continued engagement is the surest way to effect change. We believe in the free flow of information everywhere, and we remain committed to this ongoing effort in all countries in which we operate, across a complicated world."

Less than three weeks later, Cook would be the surprise keynote speaker at the World Internet Conference's opening ceremony.

Read Apple's entire response, which also touches on Chinese censorship of certain apps that can be used to access websites and services that are banned in China:

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: What happens when vegetarians eat meat for the first time

See Also:

  • Apple apologizes for the bug that let anyone log into a Mac with a blank password
  • There's an embarrassing and dangerous security hole in the latest Mac software
  • Apple has a new YouTube channel full of iPhone tips and tricks

SEE ALSO: China is Apple's biggest problem right now

...Read more
Share this

You might also like

Similar