Later, Apple released a new statement saying that the iCloud data for Hong Kong users is stored on US servers. It said that any request from Hong Kong authorities to hand over the data must first be approved by the U.S. Justice Department and a warrant must be issued by a U.S. federal judge before handing it over.
The national security law, which came into effect in Hong Kong on June 30, tightens Internet regulations and gives authorities the power to intercept communications, conduct searches without a court warrant, and demand data from foreign companies as well.
In response, a Facebook spokesperson stated that it would suspend the provision of user data to Hong Kong authorities until it conducts human rights due diligence and further scrutiny of the national security law with human rights experts. Twitter and Google also said that some of the terms of the law were vague and not clearly defined, and that they would not hand over the data until they determine the scope of the law's application.
Meanwhile, Apple at the time (as of early July) responded that it had not been requested to provide user data since the national security law came into effect. That is, it said it was before the decision to hand it over, but now it has told that the number of requests it has received from Hong Kong authorities since the introduction of the law will be included in future transparency reports.
Prior to this move, Apple released a document called "Our Commitment to Human Right". The document states that "we’re committed to respecting the human rights of everyone whose lives we touch", but it is quite stilted, stating that "we respect national law while seeking to respect the principles of internationally recognized human rights" in cases where national law and international human rights standards differ.
According to a Financial Times report, the document follows years of criticism from investors that Apple is kowtowing to the Chinese government. At this year's shareholder meeting, the nonprofit SumOfUs reportedly proposed against Apple's cooperation with Chinese censorship (which Apple tried to remove from the agenda but was rejected by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission), and 40.6% of shareholders voted in favor of the proposal against Apple.
For Apple, China is an important supply chain production base and one of the largest markets in the world. But first and foremost, as a U.S. company, it has to respect U.S. values, public opinion, and the wishes of the U.S. government, and it will be difficult to remove the app to meet the Chinese government's demands.
This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.