The criticism comes as Apple and Google consider pulling Twitter from their respective app stores in response to owner Elon Musk's new free speech policies, which include dropping restrictions around so-called Covid disinformation. They have been encouraged to do so by some American journalists, including those at the Washington Post. Musk has said he is a free speech absolutist, and believes the platform should be open to discourse and should not engage in censorship.
The AirDrop feature is a vital tool for those in authoritarian countries, as the feature uses direct connections between phones rather than using any internet signal to communicate. On November 9, Apple released its new iOS. The update made it so that iPhones sold in mainland China can only receive messages from people for just 10 minutes before the function stops working.
Gov. DeSantis made several comments about China during a media appearance on Tuesday, where he accused Apple of being a "vassal of the CCP," and warned that "nuking" Twitter off the app store would be anti-free speech.
"I want to make a comment about what we've been seeing going on in China. This 'Zero Covid' policy is draconian. It violates peoples' liberties, and it is completely unscientific," said the famously anti-lockdown governor. "The people of China are right to be able to speak out and protest against what the Chinese Communist Party is doing."
"This CCP has a maniacal desire to exert total control over its population. Zero Covid is really just the pretext for them to do what they want to do anyway. That is not a model that can work over the long term, the people in China are finally speaking out against it, and I just think we need these draconian Covid policies to go to the ash heap of history where they belong," he said.
DeSantis then spoke about Apple's decision to remove AirDrop in China, which he said is "obviously providing aid and comfort to the CCP."
"And then, when you also hear reports that Apple is threatening to remove Twitter from the App Store because Elon Musk is actually opening it up for free speech and is restoring a lot of accounts that were unfairly and illegitimately suspended for putting out accurate information about Covid," said DeSantis.
"That's one of the main things that's being reinstated. So many things these experts were wrong at, and you had people on Twitter that were calling that out, and the old regime at Twitter, their response was to try to suffocate the dissent."
DeSantis continued, saying "Elon Musk knows that's not a winning formula, he's providing free speech. Apple responds to that by nuking them from the App Store. I think that would be a huge mistake. It would be a really raw exercise of monopolistic power that I think would merit a response from the United States Congress, and so don't be a vassal of the CCP on one hand, and then use your corporate power in the United States on the other to suffocate Americans and try to suppress their right to express themselves."
Yesterday, Musk said that he was prepared to "go to war" with Apple over the prospect it pulling the app. In a tweet on Tuesday, Musk said that it is a "real problem" that Apple and Google "effectively control access to most of the Internet via their app stores."
Protests in China have raged on across several cities in respose to extreme measures taken by the CCP under President Xi Jinping. On Monday, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby was asked why the Biden administration had not responded more strongly in support of the ongoing people's protests in China against that country's authoritarian regime.
Kirby said, "We're watching this closely as you might expect, we would. And again, we continue to stand up and support the right of peaceful protest. And I think we're gonna watch this closely and we'll see where things go."Kirby said that President Biden would not be speaking on behalf of protestors, and that the protestors are "speaking for themselves."
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