Apple is being accused by the founder of Proton Technologies of prioritizing profit rather than respecting basic human rights, especially when these rights are threatened. As is the case with Myanmar, a country in Asia that, since the beginning of this year, has been suffering the consequences of a violent military dictatorship and an authoritarian government.
Andy Yen, founder of Proton, says that Apple blocked an important ProtonVPN security and privacy update because it didn’t like the tool’s description, which has been the same for months and has never been a problem.
“On the same day that the UN recommended Proton apps, Apple suddenly rejected important updates for our ProtonVPN iOS app. These updates include security enhancements designed to further improve protections against account control attempts that can compromise privacy, “writes Yen, on the ProtonVPN blog.
According to Apple, the updates were blocked because the description of the tools in the Apple App Store says they are solutions to “challenge governments … and bring freedom online for people around the world”. Yen’s point is that this description has been the same for months and has not changed due to the update, but the update was blocked at this very sensitive moment for Myanmar.
“Today, apps like ProtonVPN are a ‘lifeline’ for the rest of the world for the people of Myanmar who are being slaughtered. By preventing us from informing users that ProtonVPN can be used to bypass Internet restrictions, Apple is making it harder for people to find this ‘lifeline’. Apple’s decision will make it even more difficult for citizens of Myanmar to send evidence of crimes against humanity to the United Nations, “writes Yen.
In addition, Yen also said that Apple is a hypocrite, as it has no problem defying governments when it is in the company’s financial interest. “For example, avoiding EU taxes or avoiding antitrust charges … Apple is actively hampering the defense of human rights in Myanmar, at a time when hundreds of people are dying.”
In an interview with The Verge, Yen account that removed the description where it says ProtonVPN can be used to challenge governments and the update has finally been accepted, the day after your public complaint. The Verge contacted Apple about the case, but received no response.
Solutions like Proton’s tools, an email with end-to-end encryption that respects the privacy of its users, as well as a Virtual Private Network (VPN), are indispensable for the population, activists and journalists who need to exchange sensitive information, without the government (in this case authoritarian and murderous) seeing.
Along with the COVID-19 pandemic, the population of Myanmar is facing a severe military dictatorship, with countless dead, tortured and disappeared daily, since the beginning of this year. In addition, local network and internet providers were forced to work with the military who took over and are now controlling the media.