Apple’s human rights policies will face a fresh shareholder vote in the new year following the company’s decision to ban a Hong Kong police activity tracking app from Apple’s Hong Kong-facing App Store.
Apple objected to the motion, but the US Securities and Exchange Commission has ruled that it must be put to a vote at the shareholder meeting expected to be held in February.
The Financial Times reports that the motion has been submitted by consumer advocacy group SumOfUs. The group has likely bought sufficient Apple shares to qualify for the right to put forward motions to the annual general meeting, the threshold for which is a $2000 holding.
The non-binding resolution asks Apple to describe how it responds to government or other demands that might limit free expression or access to information. It also demands details about how Apple makes policies concerning free speech and access to information. — The Financial Times
Apple initially banned the app, then allowed it, then removed it following vague threats about “consequences” from Chinese state media. Tim Cook justified the ban by saying the app was in violation of both the law and Apple’s own policies. Many were, however, unconvinced by this, with calls for Apple to prioritize values over profits.
MacDailyNews Take: While the resolution is likely to fail — unfortunately, as we’d like some transparency here as to exactly how/who makes these decisions based upon what criteria, if any – this is a can of worms that illustrates the impossible tightrope Tim Cook tries to walk, and sometimes fails to walk, when it comes to China due to Apple’s self-inflicted dependence on a country with an abysmal human rights record.
Here is the October 18,2019 letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook from U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and U.S. House members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mike Gallagher, and Tom Malinowski: