FCC's Brendan Carr Slams Apple Over Allegedly Blocking VOA App in China

FCC commissioner Brendan Carr
(Image credit: FCC)

Republican FCC Commissioner and Big Tech critic Brendan Carr says Apple is blocking Voice of America's mobile app from its App Store in China and he wants some answers, actually a single answer, from Apple CEO Tim Cook by the end of the month.

Following Cook's speech last week to an IAPP Global Privacy Summit April 12 in Washington, one in which he spoke eloquently, according to Carr, about "Apple’s commitment to operating its App Store in a manner that promotes privacy and human rights," Carr said the CEO's words did not match "the reality" of the company's actions in China.

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Carr focused on what he said was Apple's decision to remove the VOA app to "appease" the Chinese Communist Party, a move he said "cannot be squared with your representation in Washington that Apple will 'battle against an array of dangerous actors' nor your claim that Apple will 'protect people’s fundamental rights' from abusive surveillance."

Carr's office had not returned a request at press time for a comment on where he had learned of Apple's blocking of the VOA App.

VOA is the U.S. Agency for Global Media-funded operation providing independent news to places that lack access to it.

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Carr said that the relatively new mobile app allows smart phone users to access the kind of unfiltered news the broadcast operation has been providing for decades, calling it an "important tool" for information on authoritarian regimes, "unless, of course, you are an iPhone user in China."

He ripped the company for its overall relationship with China, including extensive manufacturing operations there, but said he was just looking for the answer to one question by April 29: "Will Apple allow access to the Voice of America mobile app through its App Store in China, consistent with the fundamental human rights that you articulated in your speech?" ■

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.