United States Attorney General William Barr has said that Apple, Google, and Microsoft are collaborating too much with the Chinese government.
“Corporations such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Apple have shown themselves all too willing to collaborate with the [Chinese Communist party],” Barr said.
“The Chinese Communist Party thinks in terms of decades and centuries, while we tend to focus on the next quarterly earnings report,” the Attorney General said in a speech at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Michigan.
“America’s big tech companies have also allowed themselves to become pawns of Chinese influence.”
Barr also claimed that Apple iPhones “wouldn’t be sold (in China) if they were impervious to penetration by Chinese authorities.” He suggested American tech companies were imposing a “double standard.”
It is unclear how Barr sees Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo collaborating with the Chinese government.
Recently, many large technology companies have taken a stance against the Chinese government, saying they are reviewing or not complying with their requests for data.
This is due to the recent actions of the Chinese government against protestors in Hong Kong. The government’s recent national security law has been called “sweeping and ill-defined” due to its draconian approach to free speech.
The Independent has reached out to the office of the Attorney General for clarification.
Google services do not exist in China, although the company has a sales arm in the country.
Microsoft operates in China, providing its Bing search engine and other services. LinkedIn, which is owned by Microsoft, has said it is pausing responses to requests.
“As we would with any new legislation, we are reviewing the new law to understand its implications” Microsoft told The Independent at the time.
“In the past, we’ve typically received only a relatively small number of requests from Hong Kong authorities, but we are pausing our responses to these requests as we conduct our review.”
It is unclear how Yahoo operates in China. In 2015 its Chinese office and services – including its web portal, music service and email – was closed.
The Independent has reached out to Apple, Google, Microsoft, Verizon Media (which owns Yahoo), and the Chinese Embassy in London for comment.
“If [these companies] stand together, they will provide a worthy example for other American companies in resisting the Chinese Communist Party’s corrupt and dictatorial rule,” Barr said.
The US government has recently said it is looking into banning Chinese technology companies from the United States.
This includes Huawei, which the Trump administration has said is controlled by the Chinese military. President Trump also announced visa restrictions for Huawei employees, as well as the employees of other Chinese companies.
The viral video app TikTok, owned by the Chinese company Bytedance, is could also be banned because of claimed national security concerns over the transfer of data.
Additional reporting by agencies