The story of the relationship between US tech behemoth Apple and China’s regime seems to be gaining in nuance and detail with every passing day. In order to protect its presence in the huge market and its supply chain, Apple has been willing to remove apps from its Store at Beijing’s behest, and this has been well documented in the past.
But it has now emerged that Apple is also allegedly willing to go so far as to punish its employees who might have first approved such apps – namely, those critical of the Chinese regime.
One former employee, Trieu Pham, is suing the giant for wrongful termination and discrimination, alleging that Apple went out of its way to stay in the good graces of Beijing when it punished him.
The app, developed by Guo Media, was found by Apple to be critical of the Chinese government after Pham approved it in 2018. Furthermore, Pham claims in the lawsuit that it was only removed by Apple after Beijing intervened. The US tech giant then went on to discover who was the reviewer who approved it in the first place, leading them to Pham.
This former Apple employee also alleges that his performance first came under Apple managers’ microscope in September 2017, who a year later concluded that the most serious mistake he made was allowing Guo Media to publish its app in the App Store.
Guo Media is owned by exiled Chinese businessman Guo Wengui, who is accusing top Chinese officials of corruption, as they seek to arrest him for economic crimes. Guo is currently in the United States.
The lawsuit was filed in December of last year before the Santa Clara Superior Court, and in it, the plaintiff explains that the job of an Apple app reviewer is to determine if apps are technically reliable and free of offensive material. In Pham’s opinion, contained in the filing, removing Guo Media’s app was an act of censorship.
Pham further alleges that other apps they were responsible for approving, which Apple investigated as having been green-lit “erroneously,” later remained on the Store.