Spoof AirPod ad criticises Apple for complicity in state-led repression in China

December 02, 2019

A spoof AirPod advert highlighting Apple’s role in facilitating repression by the government of China has been published today by international consumer group SumOfUs.

The video features Tim Cook walking past pro-democracy protesters wearing new noise-cancelling AirPods in his ears, oblivious to their placards, banners and chants of “stop Apple censorship”.

>> Watch the video here: youtu.be/R0F9xATkDBE 

Apple is under growing scrutiny for complying with the government of China to crack down on free speech. The company has removed hundreds of virtual private network (VPN) apps from its China App Store, which enable people to browse the internet without being surveilled. In October, the company removed the HKlive.map app from its China store, which mapped concentrations of police in Hong Kong and allowed people to avoid being caught up in police violence.

The government of China’s vast prison camp network detains at least a million Uyghur Muslims – the largest mass incarceration of an ethnic-religious minority since the Second World War. 

Sondhya Gupta, at SumOfUs said:

“On Cyber Monday, Apple wants nothing more than to bewitch consumers with its products to help distract from the inconvenient truth behind the brand. We created this spoof ad to help shine a light on the company’s dark side. 

“Apple repeatedly bends to the will of the government of China, and as such is complicit in its brutal repression of Tibetans, Uyghurs and pro-democracy activists. In an astonishing act of PR bravado, today Apple is handing out awards for its ‘favourite apps and games of 2019’, when the company has removed hundreds of apps from its China store that prevent people from browsing the internet freely and facilitate the state’s repression of its citizens. 

“The internet promised democratisation but now it seems that freedom is controlled by the highest bidder, leaving marginalised people more and more at risk. Apple must start taking human rights violations seriously, rather than accept them as a cost of doing business in China.”