Apple shareholders reject motion to publicly declare freedom of expression as a human right

Support for free speech is growing amongst shareholders but not enough to sway the vote.

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Apple had its annual shareholders meeting earlier today and it included votes on several different proposals. One of the proposals was critical of Apple’s cooperation with requests from the Communist Chinese government to censor apps from the App Store.

Despite mounting pressure against the company, shareholders voted down the motion that Apple should be “publicly committed to respect freedom of expression as a human right.”

This year, around 40% of votes cast were in support for the measure. In 2018, when this was last proposed, around just 6% were supporting of the idea – meaning sentiment within the company is changing and pressure is mounting on Apple to support free speech.

The resolution was originally put forward by SumOfUs, a notable NGO and an online community, which cited wide ranging concerns over Apple’s illicit relationship with China.

Moreover, it was also revealed that Apple attempted to thwart the proposal from materializing, but ultimately failed to prevent the vote.

It’s worth noting that Apple has also ignored calls to testify over censorship concerns in the last week.

It was also reported that both ISS and Glass Lewis sent reports to their clients asking them to support the proposal.

“We believe that it would be prudent for the company to exhibit enhanced transparency around how it respects the right to free expression,” said Glass Lewis.

Back in 2016, it was revealed that Apple ended up removing its iBooks Store and iTunes Movies from the devices owned by Chinese customers.

What’s more, in 2017, Apple also ended up removing several virtual private network (VPN) apps used by Chinese citizens to bypass the state’s censorship laws.

Though some shareholders and their advisory groups strongly root for the proposal, Apple on the other hand, says that the proposal is “unnecessary based on the extensive information that is already publicly provided to our shareholders and users”.

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Naga Pramod

Naga Pramod is a computer science major and tech news reporter with a passion for cyber security, networking, and data science. [email protected]