Apple is being called out for releasing personal data of its customers in China to the country’s communist government in a new social media campaign.
The campaign, created by Amnesty International, is based on Apple’s 1984 advertisement and urges consumers to tell Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook to reject double standards when it comes to privacy for its Chinese customers.
This comes after Apple transferred the operation of its iCloud service for Chinese users to Guizhou-Cloud Big Data, a data firm started by the government, on 28 February.
The move by the tech giant will see any photos, documents, contacts, messages and other user data and content that Chinese users store on Apple’s cloud-based servers, given to the firm.
“Tim Cook is not being upfront with Apple’s Chinese users when insisting that their private data will always be secure. Apple’s pursuit of profits has left Chinese iCloud users facing huge new privacy risks,” said Nicholas Bequelin, East Asia director at Amnesty International.
“Apple’s influential ‘1984’ ad challenged a dystopian future but in 2018 the company is now helping to create one. Tim Cook preaches the importance of privacy but for Apple’s Chinese customers’ these commitments are meaningless. It is pure doublethink.”
“By handing over its China iCloud service to a local company without sufficient safeguards, the Chinese authorities now have potentially unfettered access to all Apple’s Chinese customers’ iCloud data. Apple knows it, yet has not warned its customers in China of the risks.”
The government introduced a legislation in 2017 which required cloud services to be operated by Chinese companies, forcing companies like Apple to either lease server space inside China or establish joint ventures with Chinese partners.