Apple’s dependence on China is dangerous, say public advocacy groups

Apple’s dependence on China has been a recurring concern, with trade wars, COVID-19-related supply constraints, and human rights abuses all being highlighted at different times. Now a group of public advocacy groups has written to congressional house leaders to flag their own worries.

The letter was written in response to claims that US antitrust legislation would disadvantage American companies, and even pose national security risks …

Background

Back in the summer, House Democrats put forward a package of antitrust bills, one of which targeted Apple’s App Store.

Antitrust Chair Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) authored legislation to bar platforms from discriminating against rivals — legislation that would prohibit many of the tech giants from “self-preferencing” or favoring their own products.

The legislation takes aim at conduct by Apple related to its App Store, and Amazon with respect to its Marketplace.

The House Judiciary Committee approved the measures following bipartisan support, but the bills are currently stalled by more urgent fiscal issues. However, Democrats are determined that the bills will come to the floor for a vote.

Tech giants, including Apple, oppose the bills, and some former national security officials have even claimed that any weakening of US companies would compromise tech work with the Pentagon.

Apple’s dependence on China is dangerous

A group of nonpartisan public advocacy groups have now written to Congress, rejecting these arguments, and suggesting instead that allowing so much power in the hands of so few companies is actually the greater security risk. The letter specifically calls out Apple’s dependence on China as a danger.

Bloomberg reports.

A coalition of anti-monopoly groups attacked the claim by U.S. technology giants that bills aiming to crimp their power pose national security risks, arguing that over-reliance on a handful of companies is more dangerous.

The most powerful U.S. tech companies put shareholder profit over public interest, according to a letter from public advocacy groups obtained by Bloomberg News that rejects warnings about a series of antitrust bills before Congress […]

In the letter, the groups highlight examples including Apple’s supply-chain reliance on China and reports that U.S. tech companies aid in Chinese surveillance and censorship. The groups argue that business decisions in the interest of creating value for shareholders will always win out over national security and human rights concerns.

“Big Tech is not here to help national security or the public interest, but to maintain monopoly rents and market power,” the groups write.

The letter was cowritten by the American Economic Liberties Project, the Center for Digital Democracy, Demand Progress, Public Citizen, and the Revolving Door Project. A Marine officer is one of those who rejects the national security argument, saying that the opposite is true.

Lucas Kunce, a Marine officer who is running as a Democrat for Missouri’s Senate seat in 2022, said in addition to the vulnerabilities associated with the companies themselves, market concentration decreases the options of products and services available to the Defense Department. 

Photo: Road Trip with Raj/Unsplash

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