Apple has again declined to testify at a U.S. congressional hearing over Chinese influence on tech companies. The hearing is part of a larger investigation. Apple had declined a similar invitation at a similar hearing last year.
The Washington Post reports both Apple and TikTok have declined a request from U.S. Senator Josh Hawley to attend the hearing, which took place on Monday, February 24.
Apple and TikTok each have declined a request to testify at a March congressional hearing that would have probed their relationships with China, a move that threatens to ratchet up tensions with federal lawmakers who see Beijing as a privacy and security threat.
Republican Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.), one of TikTok’s leading critics, had invited the two tech firms to appear at a March 4 session, his office confirmed Monday. Both previously had declined to testify at a hearing last year on the same issue.
The Post says TikTok has said it will be sending a representative to testify before the congressional subcommittee at a later date, but Apple hasn’t commented on its absence. Both companies failed to appear at a similar hearing in November, leaving two empty chairs with placards listing the firms’ names.
Senator Hawley, who has been known to frequently attack Apple over its Chinese ties, took the opportunity to attack the Cupertino firm for not showing up, saying Apple’s relationship with the country’s totalitarian government was “a fact they would rather we think not too much about.”
U.S. lawmakers criticized Apple in October for pulling an app from the App Store that Hong Kong protestors had been using to track police movements. The company stated the app violated both company guidelines and local laws.
In a related development, The Guardian today reports Apple could be forced to give up the details of censorship requests from China. The news comes in the wake of two major shareholder groups backing a proposal to force the iPhone manufacturer to make new human rights commitments. The motion is set to be voted on by the company’s investors on Wednesday.