Don’t be a Michael Flynn, Bill Barr tells Apple

Warns that removing apps from its Chinese App Store at the Chinese government’s request, as Apple did, could “implicate” the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

From the Wall Street Journal’s “Barr Warns Company Executives on Pushing Policies at Behest of China” ($) posted Thursday:

Attorney General William Barr took aim at a range of American companies and industries for what he described as a willingness to accede to authoritarian demands from the Chinese government, as the Trump administration has stepped up its rhetoric and actions countering Beijing’s recent activities.

In a speech Thursday in Michigan, Mr. Barr criticized the Hollywood entertainment industry and Walt Disney Co. as well as tech giants including Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Apple Inc., saying they are “all too willing to collaborate” with the Chinese Communist Party…

“America’s corporate leaders might not think of themselves as lobbyists,” Mr. Barr said, telling them: “But you should be alert to how you might be used, and how your efforts on behalf of a foreign company or government could implicate the Foreign Agents Registration Act,” which requires lobbyists for foreign governments or companies to register such work with the Justice Department…

In his Thursday remarks, Mr. Barr specifically criticized technology companies for removing apps at the request of the Chinese government, including Apple’s removal of the news outlet Quartz’s app, after it had covered the Hong Kong democracy protests…

A spokesman for Apple referred to previous statements in which the company had said it was “convinced the best way we can continue to promote openness is to remain engaged even where we may disagree with a country’s laws.”

My take: This is rich, coming from an Attorney General who just dropped charges against a former administration official who had already pled guilty to acting as an unregistered Foreign Agent.

10 Comments

  1. Walley Francis said:
    Apple should register when Donald Trump and Jared Kushner do.

    2
    July 16, 2020
  2. David Emery said:
    Flynn ultimately got off, so Apple shouldn’t worry 🙁 🙁

    0
    July 16, 2020
  3. Gary Morton said:
    PED, the article and/or AG Barr’s commentary are unclear. Did Apple remove apps from just the Chinese app store? Which seems should not be a problem. Countries have a right to regulate within their physical and electronic borders. Or, did Apple remove apps from all of the international app stores at the request of the Chinese Communist Party? That may rise to a significant level of concern. Were the apps built and sourced from companies or developers based in China? That is another consideration. Were the apps built and/or sourced from outside of China and used inside of China? China regulating inside China is one thing. China impacting apps outside of China is entirely different.

    2
    July 16, 2020
  4. Jerry Doyle said:
    China encourages American business executives to support specific China-friendly American candidates & policies. These CEOs should be registered under the FARA. American business leaders who advocate for the CCP’s political interests at its behest could face prosecution.

    China’s influential & monetary tentacles permeate America shores. The U.S. academia is festering with China incestuousness. FBI Director Chris Wray says the agency opens a new China related counterintelligence case every 10 hours. The department arrested recently researchers at Harvard & University of Kansas. Today, the FBI says a top immunologist at OSU concealed illegally Chinese funding for his research & attempted to flee the country before his arrest as he boarded a flight to China. The US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Ohio alleges that the immunologist was illegally transferring intellectual property & research to China.

    As far as Apple, I do have concern that the company removed privacy apps from its China store, yank the Quartz news app covering pro-democracy HK protests, and more so over Apple moving some iCloud data to Chinese servers. The most serious revelation that troubled me is Apple’s phones in China (unlike in the US) are “not” impervious to Chinese authorities. China has the back-door access, according to the US AG.

    0
    July 16, 2020
  5. John Konopka said:
    Collaborate is strong language. It would be one thing if companies were actively working to promote a given regime. It is another to acceded to a lawful request. We many not like what the Russians or Chinese do, but it is not up to Apple or Google to effect regime change in those countries.

    4
    July 17, 2020

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