Senator Rubio slams Apple over Russia Smart Voting app removal

Apple removed an app from opposition leader Alexei Navalny following threats from Russia's government.

What you need to know

  • Senator Marco Rubio has slammed Apple and Google for removing a Smart Voting app in Russia.
  • Apple was forced to remove the app from Russia's opposition leader because of threats from the government.
  • Rubio said Apple was "complicit in the censorship of an oppressive, authoritarian regime."

Senator Marco Rubio has sent a strongly-worded letter to both Apple and Google lambasting both companies' decision to remove Alexei Navalny's Smart Voting app from their platforms ahead of Russia's recent election.

The Washington Examiner reports that Rubio sent both companies a letter stating:

By bowing to Moscow's demand, Google and Apple have made themselves complicit in the censorship of an oppressive, authoritarian regime... "You have set a disturbing precedent for both of your companies, and their peers, one with ramifications for billions of users of your technologies worldwide.

Why your companies would choose to assist a regime that, just days beforehand, began fining Facebook and Twitter for refusing to remove content per its beck and call, as well as reportedly blocked users' access to Smart Voting material hosted on Google Docs, is beyond comprehension

Apple was threatened with fines in Russia over the Smart Voting app, created by opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his team to encourage Russians to vote tactically against ruling party United Russia. Navalny himself was highly critical of the decision.

Apple was forced to remove the app on the grounds that it contains "content that is illegal in Russia", breaching Apple's App Store guidelines.

Senator Rubio has publicly criticized Apple before over allegations of forced labor in its supply chain and has previously criticized the company's operations in China regarding government censorship.