Sofa May 19, 2021 10:09 AM


Some important nuance and insight from Daring Fireball’s John Gruber here:
New York Times Report on Apple’s iCloud ‘Hard Bargain’ in China

Yes, it’d be principled for Apple to say it only operates its services in countries that allow a minimum level of privacy and that China doesn’t meet that standard. But it’s also principled to say they’ll provide Chinese users with the most privacy that Chinese law allows. They’re just different principles. What’s more important: abstract ideals or the actual lives of actual people using these devices?

The elephant in the room is Apple’s reliance on Chinese manufacturing. Apple could stop selling iPhones in China, and could pull the plug on these new managed-by-China iCloud data centers. The revenue hit would be a very tough sell to Wall Street, but I think Apple could make the case. (Or at least they could have made it a decade ago.) But what happens to Apple’s enormous can’t-be-replicated-anywhere-else-in-the-world Chinese supply chain operations? Maybe the Chinese government would simply allow Apple to pull its products from the Chinese market but allow their supply chain operations to continue, unabated — “No hard feelings”.

(Xi Jinping doesn’t strike me as a “No hard feelings” sort of guy.)

It’s disingenuous to argue that Apple’s compliance with Chinese law on data centers and App Store content is wrong or mistaken without offering up a plausible scenario for what else they could do. Or acknowledging that Chinese iCloud users would not benefit in any way by Apple pulling out of the country.


Impossibly Stupid May 19, 2021 10:49 AM

Who is sovereign? That seems to be the question people have been struggling to answer for centuries. It’s the same struggle that Twitter faces when it contemplates what to do about Donald Trump. The answer should be relatively easy, but some people are absolute human garbage that get supported by people who aspire to be human garbage themselves.

There are a lot of things happening in the world that I don’t like, but I am not sovereign. In China, neither is Apple. If people have a problem with China’s politics, and I do agree they should, they need to address it with political change. That mostly falls as a responsibility to the Chinese people. To the extent that other nations are involved, it doesn’t make sense to me that responsibility falls on corporations.

If the US (or any other country) government doesn’t want China amassing so much power, they need to pass laws that prevent it. Instead, it seems I can’t even walk into a store and buy products that aren’t made in China. Even if we want to exercise the capitalistic sovereignty we have to “vote with your wallet”, we cannot.

I’ve soured a lot on Apple under Tim Cook’s leadership, but let’s not pretend that they’re doing anything wrong by obeying the laws of the countries in which they operate. If you don’t like it, push for whatever political change you think will remedy the situation. From a security standpoint, maybe that means mandating a “local” supply chain (to the greatest extent possible) for government contracts. Even if that means having to pay $10,000 for a “Made in the USA” red, white, and blue iPhone.

Lin Zhao May 19, 2021 10:57 AM

It goes without saying that China is a brutal police state run by a “ruler for life” dictator.

There are serious ethical issues that arise when a company decides to profit from doing business with one.

Recall how IBM made money by selling equipment to the Germans during WWII, which was used to identify and kill millions of Jews.

If Tim Cook really wants to present himself as a valiant defender of personal privacy he had better think twice about playing ball with Premier Xi.

Sofa May 19, 2021 11:49 AM


Your contention was covered in the piece I linked. I only posted a short snippet. Here is the part relevant to your issue, just before the previous section I listed.

Option B: Apple refuses to do so, and the Chinese government shuts down iCloud in China and probably bans the sale of Apple devices.

I can see the argument that Apple should have chosen Option B, and pulled out of the Chinese market on principle. But you’re living in a fantasy world if you think Apple taking a principled stand against these laws would have resulted in the Chinese government capitulating to Apple. China would have simply told Apple to get out. If you parse the details of this Times report, what we’re seeing is the negotiated middle ground. It’s hard to imagine another Western company being granted so much autonomy over its servers and services — even if, objectively, it’s an insecure level of control and an unacceptable amount of App Store content censorship.


TimH May 19, 2021 12:42 PM

Since Apple is part of the PRISM network, which spies on US citizens, Apple’s ‘standard of privacy’ is not great in US either.

Chunglak May 19, 2021 11:54 PM

Always amazed how Americans can’t wrap their head around the fact that, to operate in a country, anyone, a person or a corporation, has to obey its laws. If Apple wants to operate in China it has to follow Chinese laws, just like if Tik Tok wants to operate in the US it has to follow US laws.
Apple is required to follows the exact same laws as the other Chinese corporations operating in China. What’s wrong with that?
What would you if a corporation comes to the US and decides that it will only obey some laws but, since it doesn’t agree with others, will simply ignore them.
How long do you think they’d last before getting shut down?

See the Duplicity of this Place May 20, 2021 1:30 AM

@ Watch Censorship in Action

Well said. Until the part “whether it be Fauci’s doing”… It IS his doing. He’s on the top. He leads the company funding that research, Gain of Function.

Yes, they rented Chinese workforce and locals. Same as Apple do with iPhones. We don’t praise China for our awesome iPhone, do we? No, we praise Apple!

Even IF Chinese workers stole that virus, and throw it out of the window in that lab, it’s still Fauci’s responsibility, for playing God, creating biological weapons, and not securing it enough.

It’s his and his responsibility to hire and trust a third party company doing his wet work.

Tony KNEW what was going on from day 1 of that “leak”. And he pretended not to know what was happening. He probably eveb KNOW what antidote that works, that could have saved millions of peoples lives. Instead he let all of us, ALL of us! Live in misery for over a year. Pushing his agenda. Lying about it. Fattening his Pharma pockets.

If somebody belongs in maximum security prison, for the rest of his life, it’s that guy.

Ismar May 20, 2021 4:06 AM

Why should Apple behave any differently when responding to requests of this nature from Chinese gov as opposed to how they respond to requests from any other governments who do ask and get access to our private information on regular basis?
Furthermore, they cannot even design systems which would prevent them from supplying this information due to the above.
So much for having the internet driving positive change across the world

- May 20, 2021 12:33 PM


Examination of the time stamps indicates that the Troll-Tools methods are automaticalfor @Winter comments but not yet for other users comments.

Just yet another piece of information they have leaked. They realy are not very good at the game.

Obviously pounding away at it, is not doing their brain cells any good.

sandman May 20, 2021 7:42 PM

But you’re living in a fantasy world if you think Apple taking a principled stand against these laws would have resulted in the Chinese government capitulating to Apple. China would have simply told Apple to get out.

“…you’re living in a fantasy world if you think…” weeell, nobody is necessarily thinking anything like that, because if Apple actually had the principles they advertise themselves as having, they could have replied to that with “so what?”

Also to consider that (even though China now is a totalitarian country) forcing a large userbase to suddenly stop using the Apple devices they have purchased would likely not be an easy task.

And yea similar defensive arguments could have been used to defend IBM’s business with Nazi Germany. Not to forget any and all other corporations back then that supplied material for the Nazi killing machine.

It’s not even all that different from the current situation in China, considering what is heard about China’s treatment of the Uyghur minority.

But in the end the only group that took a principled stand against the laws in Nazi Germany were not businessmen but some “bibleforscher”-types. With that they got rewarded with their own category (purple triangles) in the concentration camps.

lurker May 20, 2021 11:27 PM

@Sandman: … forcing a large userbase to suddenly stop using the Apple devices they have purchased …

That userbase could go back to purchasing what they had before Apple moved into China. 4 out of 5 glittering “Apple” stores were bogus. The “iPhones” were stunningly realistic knockoff cases with the guts made in back sheds somewhere untraceable, running wierd local OS. They worked more than OK on local carriers for phone & sms, ditto for camera and music player. It still amazes me that so many people would pay 3 or 5 times more than necessary for an adequate handset, in a country where their parents cycled to work in blue serge for $2/day.

Winter May 21, 2021 12:53 AM

“Obviously pounding away at it, is not doing their brain cells any good.”

Not to put too much information out, some things are obvious.

0) It always starts with a fake “discussion” between sock puppet handles sprouting some obvious conspiracy theory or advancing objectionable subjects that will discredit our host. Lately mostly about the pandemic. The handles are generally new.

1) Then someone points out the comments as breaking the commenting rules to moderation.

2) A series of comments follow that retaliate against being found out, “punishing” the commenter that brought them out and decreasing the readability of the blog

2.a) Comments to confuse moderation are posted

At this point, large numbers of retaliating comments can fill up the comment section of the blog making it unreadable.

3) Along the line we see comments arguing that the original comments should be preserved. The arguments are along the lines of

3.a) Entitlement to Free Speech and Free Discussion

3.b) Threats: Leave them or else….

4) Occasionally, self-aggrandizing comments appear as written by a narcissist, Wile E. Coyote and Small Hands Donald style.

The above playbook changes over time as the Troll-tool tries out new strategies to break the blog.

Final note, be aware that research has shown that Cyber Trolls are sadists. They feed on your pain. Having any argument or discussion with them is what feeds them.

Goat May 21, 2021 1:29 AM

@All, Does there seem any feasability of applying the idea of web of trust or something similar for moderation.

Also Shouldn’t the system of flagging be separated from comments( Eg. A button or a form entry not visible in comment section?

Winter May 21, 2021 2:42 AM

“A button or a form entry not visible in comment section?”

I am afraid Abby such measure is easy to subvert and DDOS.

- May 21, 2021 7:36 AM


“The above playbook changes over time as the Troll-tool tries out new strategies to break the blog.”

Whilst they change things, their actual ability to reason through fails them so they are in effect “stuck up a creak with no paddle”…

With regards,

“be aware that research has shown that Cyber Trolls are sadists”

Not all the time, but those that are sadists that resort to being Trumpian 400lb’s, are actually cowards, and generally compleate failures in life. Look at it this way, they rarely get emotionally or educationally beyond the “tear the legs off of spiders” developmental stage around six years old.

Which is why they behave the way they do thinking incorrectly they are invulnerable, when the opposit is true. Their inability to reason why this might be the case is what makes them vulnerable.

Likewise are those with certain other significantly detrimental mental pathologies such as narcissistic personality disorders. These entities actually have very fragile egos and they make the mistake of showing it in certain ways. People not falling on their knees in adulation to them results in vexatious behaviour of various forms. Which is part of the pattern you have observed. So first the hissy fit you would expect of a toddler bratz denied sweeties at the checkout, followed by the realisation that such a response makes people laugh at them. So then they try the cool and aloof line, and then when that fails because of it’s obviousness, to get them the adulation they believe is there’s by right they go on making further mistakes highlighting their real nature. Those who are a little more worldly wise, which lets be honest is not difficult, laugh at them even more.

Thus the narcissist becomes like a cat chasing a laser pointer spot, desperately running back and forth trying to jump on or pin down something that just disapears from their grasp to see it appear again just out of reach. Being as limited in cranial ability as a cat they can not work out why success aludes then every time.

Then of course there are the psychopaths, but these have been mentioned before and as you are no doubt aware this Troll-Tools efforts are realy not even close to such behaviours.

Winter May 21, 2021 8:24 AM

“Likewise are those with certain other significantly detrimental mental pathologies such as narcissistic personality disorders.”

There is the Dark Triad/Tetrad: Psychopathy, Narcissism, Machiavellianism and Sadism. This is all connected.



The Dark Triad and Internet Trolls

This is the relevant research paper:
Internet trolling and everyday sadism: Parallel effects on pain perception and moral judgment

Results: Across both studies, online trolling was strongly associated with a sadistic personality profile. Moreover, sadism and trolling predicted identical patterns of pleasure and harm minimization. The incremental contribution of sadism was sustained even when controlling for broader antisocial tendencies (i.e., the Dark Triad, callous-unemotionality, and trait aggression).

(URLs fractured for your protection)

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