Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) penned a letter to Apple Inc. (AAPL - Get Report) CEO Tim Cook this week asking for answers as to why the tech titan removed a number of privacy-providing apps from its App Store in China this summer.
Cruz and Leahy wrote that China has an "abysmal human rights record...with respect to the right to free expression and free access to information."
The apps Apple removed were virtual private network, or VPN, apps. They allow users access to uncensored internet in China and other countries that restrict internet freedom. The apps also allow for privacy by hiding browsing activities on the web from users' internet service providers.
"We are concerned that Apple may be enabling the Chinese government's censorship and surveillance of the internet," the senators wrote. They added that removing the VPN apps "that allow individuals in China to evade the Great Firewall and access the internet privately does not enable people in China to 'speak up,'" alluding to Cook's free speech award acceptance earlier this year in which he lauded the work that allows people around the world to "speak up."
Cruz and Leahy included a list of 10 questions for Apple in their letter, dated Oct. 17. The questions centered around topics including Beijing's cybersecurity laws, Apple's compliance with Chinese demands and more detailed information about the number and type of apps Apple removed in the country.
Apple stock traded higher 0.42% to $156.63 in premarket trading Friday, Oct. 20.
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