TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Citizen Labs from Toronto University says technology giant Apple censors political phrases in Taiwan and Hong Kong when providing engraving services.
Apple varies its censorship policies according to the country. For Japan and the United States, around 170 and 192 words, respectively, are filtered mostly due to explicit sexual content, vulgarity, and illicit things, among which political censorship is rare.
Apple has 1,045 forbidden words for engraving in China and 542 in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, there are 397 forbidden words in Taiwan, according to Tech News.
The research shows that 43% of China's banned phrases are political, like democratization, human rights, freedom of the press, and politics. Some terms related to "sensitive" events are blocked as well, such as Umbrella Revolution, supreme leader, Epoch Times, and Falun Gong. Numbers like 8964 can also cause offense in China, as it's the date of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
Though Hong Kong supposedly allows freedom of speech, it is also censored according to China's laws, according to Tech News. Even the independent nation of Taiwan is affected by China's censors because for Apple, it is considered to be part of China's main market.
The number of words censored in each region. (Citizen Labs image)
Apple is valued at about US$2.44 trillion, according to Google Finance. China's market contributes one-fifth of the company's revenues, in addition to which, the assembly of most of its products takes place in China, according to Tech News.
Apple's Chief Privacy Officer Jane Horvath replied to Citizen Labs that Apple takes account of the laws and cultural sensitivities of each country or region. "We revisit these decisions from time to time. While those teams rely on information from a range of sources, no third parties or government agencies have been involved in the process," Horvath said.
This kind of information on censoring is important considering multinational companies like Apple have to negotiate political pressure from governments. They also have to weigh up commercial benefits and human rights, Citizen Labs commented.