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SEC Determines Apple Must Allow Free Speech Resolution Proposed by Shareholders To Proceed

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This week, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) refuted Apple’s plea to veto a “free speech resolution” proposed by shareholders that were concerned about Apple, as a dominant Big Tech giant, to suppress speech.

This proposal, advanced by the American Family Association (AFA), pushes Apple to scrutinize its processes of content curation and to publish a report addressing fears that the corporation’s policies may inadvertently inhibit speech based on differing views.

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

The SEC dismissed Apple’s attempt to omit the resolution from the discussion during its 2024 Annual Meeting of Shareholders, effectively setting the stage for a vote on the resolution in spring.

Apple is known for its strict terms of use policy for all apps on the App Store. As Apple’s own App Store is the only way to get apps on its platform, this means that Apple’s is the judge, jury, and executioner when it comes to what the public is allowed to say and see.

In November of 2023, concerned about potential Apple censorship, the ADF sent a letter to the SEC insisting that Apple should not be allowed to block the resolution, as it is seen as an area of potential misuse.

Following the SEC’s decision, Jeremy Tedesco, ADF Senior Counsel and Senior Vice President for Corporate Engagement, voiced his approval, referring to the development as a “much-needed step toward transparency.”

He urged Apple to regain the trust of its shareholders and customers by clearly stating its stance on not using its power to discriminate against user’s speech and beliefs – irrespective of their political or even religious persuasion.

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