[quote=“Comrade, post:15, topic:75113 full:true”]
OK but before valorizing Apple remember that their iPhones are made with conscripted child labor under deplorable conditions in China, and their retail employees are generally very precariously employed. Like a lot of other electronics companies. It would be a huge mistake to compartmentalize Apple’s policies, good and bad.
We have to take the good with the bad in order to get a more accurate picture of what current events mean and how they reflect the spirit and motivations of the company.
Some of what Apple is doing may seem good for consumers but remember also that they are motivated by self-interest, and they regularly cooperate with authorities on handing over information.[/quote]
Yes, Apple has cooperated with authorities in the past. They kind of have to, it’s the law. When presented with a warrant for information already in their possession, they have turned it over (they’ve also contested at least some of those warrants, so they’re not cooperating blindly). They’ve also spent years steadily locking down more and more of the data on iOS devices so that not only can criminals not break into them anymore, Apple and the FBI can’t either. That’s why this case is fundamentally different: they’re being compelled develop a new piece of software so that the FBI can gain access to data that is not in Apple’s possession, because Apple built a system that’s “too good” at keeping unauthorized parties out of it.
If you’re trying to imply that this fight really is more about Apple’s bottom line than any sort of principled stand, I think you’ve bought into too much Evil Walled Garden Empire rhetoric. To start with your accusation that iPhones are built by child labor, that’s simply bullshit. While there are certainly labor problems in many eastern suppliers that affect the entire tech industry, Apple has been doing more to enforce better conditions than any other company I’m aware of, despite the complexity inherent in policing such a massive supplier network. Specifically regarding child labor, Apple’s punishments for companies that violate either local law or Apple’s requirements for employee age are not only serious, they also work to mitigate one of the main motivations that young teens have to work in these factories: supporting their families. Companies caught employing underage workers are required to send that person back to school and keep paying them what they would have been making at the factory until they’re legally old enough to work (as outlined in Apple’s supplier progress report). Yes, they could always do more to enforce their supplier conduct standards, and those standards are definitely sub-par when compared to what we would expect from a manufacturer in the US, but I don’t really see anyone else even trying. Unfortunately, in many ways lifting working conditions in these areas is a game of inches; get too strict too fast, especially without government support, and companies could stop working with Apple entirely. Then everybody loses.
There’s a lot of other poor reporting and innuendo in that article you linked, like ignoring Apple’s 61% reduction in per-product lifetime emissions (including manufacturing) since 2008 (which I got from the very article that the author chose to link as a source) to focus on the 5% year-over-year increase in their overall footprint between 2014 and 2015 because they sold so many more devices. That increase somehow invalidates all of the actual investment Apple has made in improving manufacturing processes, optimizing packaging (like putting iMacs in trapezoidal boxes, because you can tessellate them to pack more into a shipping container), improving battery technology, enhancing their software’s energy efficiency, and renewable energy production.
A while back, Tim Cook made waves by telling a climate change-denying investor (and the think tank that he represented) to take his money elsewhere if he didn’t like that Apple was investing, potentially without any hope of a positive return, in mitigating the company’s impact on the environment.
Apple definitely cares about making money (and they’re extremely good at it), but just because they operate in a capitalist environment doesn’t mean that’s their only objective. It is possible for a company to do the right thing for the right reasons, even if you disagree with some of their policies or practices.
The Jacobin article pretty heavily implies that Apple is willing to go along with Chinese surveillance for the sake of access to its market, which I think is completely without merit (as is its accusation that Apple has already built a back door into its software for the NSA because of their appearance on the PRISM slide, when every other company on it has disavowed doing so and instead accused the NSA of obtaining those connections subversively). Yes, letting China in the back door would keep them in that government’s good graces, but it would also risk turning the rest of the democracy-loving world against them. We would demand that Apple not give in to the Chinese government’s outrageous requirements in pursuit of more money. That’s exactly what they’re doing now, in this fight with the FBI, and yet somehow we’re still questioning whether they’re doing it for the money?
If Apple didn’t actually care as much as it says it does about the right to privacy - as the Jacobin article implies - they would have quietly done what the FBI asked, and not raised an enormous public stink about it. Really, that was a dangerous move for them. Because it’s a deadly terrorism case, the FBI can bring the full force of 15 years of heavily-stoked fear of terrorists and the emotional weight of 22 grieving families to bear in the court of public opinion to shame Apple into unlocking that phone. And it risks setting a precedent that every country can then use to compel Apple to do the same thing, if not in court then potentially in new legislation. By picking this fight, they’re clearly motivated by principle; they have far too much to lose to be motivated by anything else.
I certainly don’t think Apple is faultless; there are plenty of actual problems to criticize Apple for, but those issues don’t change the fact that in this case, Apple is living up to some of its highest principles in defending the Constitution and everyone’s right to privacy. Falsely accusing them of relying on forced child labor to build their products, or framing their environmental efforts as nothing but a corporate tax write-off, or implying that they’ve already given China a back door into their services, just serves to further the FBI’s own specious arguments.