Earlier today, John Gruber linked to this piece, and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at the superior orders defense. Gruber later followed up with a more detailed article, and wondered what I think Apple should do.
Too many people reacting to this story think that it’s about Apple deciding to acquiesce to this particular demand regarding VPN apps. It’s not. The real issues are two-fold:
- Should Apple being doing business in China at all?
- Should the App Store remain the only way to install apps on iOS devices?
Neither of these are simple topics, and I would (and am about to) argue that neither question has a clear-cut “this is the right thing to do” answer.
Nonsense. In both of these cases, it’s very “clear-cut” what “the right thing to do” is.
Since the App Store question is obvious – my computer, my rules, my software, get out – let’s move on to the China question. The only reason this issue is supposedly not “clear-cut” is because we live in a society that values money over people. People like John Gruber argue that Google’s advertising practices and data collection are bad and evil, but in one breath argue that it’s okay for Apple to buddy up to totalitarian regimes like the ones in China or Saudi-Arabia that have complete and utter disregard for human rights because it’s good for Apple.
You can certainly make that argument – and each and every one of us uses products that either depend on or are made in totalitarian regimes – but don’t try to justify it or claim there’s no clear right and wrong here. Collaborating with such regimes is clearly wrong, period. No ifs, buts, or maybes, and by buying products made in China or by putting Saudi-Arabian oil in our cars we are all complicit, whether we like it or not.
We like to make it seem as if right and wrong are cloudy, nebulous concepts, but in reality, they rarely are. The only thing that’s cloudy and nebulous is our own cognitive dissonance and the twisting, contorting, and justifying we – as a society – do to solve it.