Tech companies have become instruments to suppress human and civil rights
By Hannah Ng and Tiffany Meier
December 25, 2022
Logos of Big Tech companies are displayed on a tablet on Oct. 1, 2019. (Denis Charlet/AFP via Getty Images)
Big Tech firms have become instruments to suppress human and civil rights worldwide, says cybersecurity expert Rex Lee.
“They now become arms of the government [agencies], no different than an informant who is informing on people to a secret police force,” Lee, a security adviser at My Smart Privacy, told “China in Focus” on NTD News, the sister media outlet of The Epoch Times.
Rex Lee (Courtesy of Rex Lee)
He cited Apple’s alleged obstruction of content sharing by Chinese citizens ahead of the massive protests against Beijing’s harsh zero-COVID policies.
The policy of disabling Apple’s AirDrop app on iPhones in China blunted protestors’ ability to coordinate and share time-sensitive information with one another about their locations and activities, as well as those of security forces rounding up protesters.
“Apple is now exposing these consumers who want to exercise their human rights such as protesting, and they’re colluding with the Chinese government and or the Chinese Communist Party,” Lee said.
“So now you have Apple acting as an arm of the Chinese Communist Party, again, informing their customers to a secret police force,” he added.
Information Suppression on American Soil
Lee believes Big Tech is acting as an arm of the government in the United States as well.
He pointed to the “Twitter files”—documented exchanges between Twitter and government agencies including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), discussing the censorship of certain information and persons. The correspondence release was authorized by new Twitter owner Elon Musk.
“The customer is now being oppressed by the very company that they’re doing business with, who they’re making profits for, by colluding with government agencies, such as the FBI, in order to actually suppress the end users, human rights, and or civil rights, such as free speech, the ability to act, the right to a free press,” he said.
Lee singled out the Twitter Files, made public on Dec. 19, which included an email indicating that the FBI paid Twitter nearly $3.5 million in taxpayer cash.
“It’s misuse or misappropriation of taxpayer funds, when the FBI, who should be concentrating on terrorists, are now putting their focus on U.S. citizens through a biased lens based on the citizens’ political ideology, not that the citizen is doing anything wrong,” he said.
In response, the FBI claimed that the correspondence between the agency and Twitter “shows nothing more than examples of our traditional, longstanding and ongoing federal government and private sector engagements, which involve numerous companies over multiple sectors and industries.”
“As evidenced in the correspondence, the FBI provides critical information to the private sector in an effort to allow them to protect themselves and their customers. The men and women of the FBI work every day to protect the American public. It is unfortunate that conspiracy theorists and others are feeding the American public misinformation with the sole purpose of attempting to discredit the agency,” the agency told the Epoch Times in an email.
Loyal Customers Pay the Price
“What’s missing from all of these stories is the scenario that the customer is the one who’s being exploited for profits as well as oppressed … so it’s the paying customer that’s being oppressed here by the very companies that the customer is patronizing with their loyalty, trust, and hard-earned money,” he added.
Lee opined that Twitter should repay the money, because “that’s our money coming out of our taxes, as well as the administrative costs for the suppression.”
In his opinion, the service’s customers—in this case, social media users—should be protected by existing law.
“There are laws in place, there are consumer protection laws and privacy laws that aren’t being enforced by the FTC [Federal Trade Commission], as well as state agencies and consumer protection agencies that are regulated by the state agencies,” he noted.
‘Crossing the Line’ to Being an Arm of the Government
“So at this point, you have to look at these … companies, and any other companies that are colluding with the government, and ask yourself, when did these companies cross the line from being a consumer product manufacturer of goods and services to being an arm of any government, whether it’s a tyrannical government or the government of the United States?” he said.
“We’re seeing our human rights eliminated here by proxy. We actually see it today. People used to talk about this in theory and didn’t know it was really happening,” Lee said.
The Epoch Times has reached out to Apple and Twitter for comment.
Aldgra Fredly and Michael Washburn contributed to this report.