China state media outlet, China Daily, is demanding the government dole out sever punishment to Apple, Google, Microsoft, and other big tech companies for acting as pawns of the U.S. government to steal secret information. The news outlet alleges the companies it is targeting worked as U.S. government agents to monitor Internet activity in China, although it isn't saying what type of data was stolen.
China media calls US companies spies, wants harsh punishment
The People's Daily, another Chinese new publication, echoed China Daily saying, "U.S. companies including Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, etc. are all coordinating with the PRISM programme to monitor China."
The punishment demand is yet more fallout from the revelation that the U.S. Government has been involved in widespread surveillance and was collecting data from companies, although Apple, Google and others deny that they were handing over information.
While China may see Apple and other tech companies as willing participants in government spying efforts, there's a movement in the U.S. to remove the veil of secrecy surrounding NSA surveillance. In an open letter to the White House, Apple and other companies said,
We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer's revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual — rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It's time for a change.
The Chinese news agencies said they want to create international guidelines and that severe punishment is in order for the tech companies.
"To resist the naked Internet hegemony, we will draw up international regulations, and strengthen technology safeguards, but we will also severely punish the pawns of the villain," People's Daily said, according to Reuters. "The priority is strengthening penalties and punishments, and for anyone who steals our information, even though they are far away, we shall punish them!"
While the statements are coming from media outlets, they represent more than just a call to action because China Daily and People's Daily are both essentially mouthpieces for the Chinese government. Translation: Get ready for China to start targeting U.S. tech companies over NSA spy tactics.