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Sen. Rubio takes Apple to task for slow response to Adware Doctor's data harvesting

A frequent critic of the company in regards to China, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has reportedly sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook asking why the company didn't immediately react to word a Mac App Store title was exporting browser histories to the country.

Adware Doctor

Apple waited until after the Adware Doctor story became public to address the issue, including pulling the app, Rubio complained according to Axios. The Florida senator asked whether the company chose to ignore warnings from security researchers a month prior, and how the company will be faster to act next time, for instance by auditing updates quickly and/or instituting new security controls for apps.

"For a company that prides itself on prioritizing user privacy and security, this delayed response is extremely disconcerting," Rubio and his office wrote.

One of the researchers who drew attention to Adware Doctor, former National Security Agency staffer Patrick Wardle, has suggested that Adware Doctor may have been exfiltrating browser histories for years.

Rubio's main concern about Apple has typically been its willingness to comply with China's authoritarian government for the sake of market access. The company has repeatedly followed through with App Store censorship requests, and transferred control of the region's iCloud servers to a local company, putting it within easier reach of surveillance.

Those actions contrast with Apple's stance in places like the U.S. and Europe, where it insists it's firmly committed to privacy. It famously resisted a U.S. Department of Justice demand that it build a backdoor into the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, only for the Department to back down when it succeeded with a third-party contractor.

The Chinese market is worth tens of billions to Apple annually, and Cook has claimed that he can better influence China's direction by "participating" rather than protesting on the sidelines.