Apple CEO Tim Cook claimed recently that he and his company do not engage in the dirty business of “politics” but only “policy.” He is supposedly above it all, guided instead by doing “what’s right.”
Cook acknowledges that some may not like his “policy” decisions, but that he thinks they admire Apple’s leadership for sticking to their principles. He added that the company only weighs in where it has a “legitimate position or lens on the issue,” like climate change, education, immigration, and transgender restroom policies.
“I think people appreciate that, even when they do disagree,” he said, explaining his beliefs about the role of business in public issues. “We do them out of believing deeply that they’re right and we do have a unique lens. We focus on the policy, not the politics.”
National Legal and Policy Center has submitted a shareholder proposal asking Apple Inc. to made a report on human rights, and specifically, free speech. The 2019 Apple annual meeting will take place in Cupertino, California in early 2019. Here is the text of the proposal and supporting statement:
Whereas, the Securities and Exchange Commission has consistently recognized that human rights constitute a significant policy issue.
Freedom of speech and association are fundamental human rights.
The Company operates in nations with systematic human rights abuses. The Company has abetted certain governments and non-governmental organizations in suppressing freedom of speech and association.
For example, our CEO in March 2018 co-chaired the so-called China Development Forum, sponsored by the Communist Chinese government. In December 2017, our CEO keynoted the World Internet Conference, another Chinese government event.
Last week Google apparently reversed course on availability its powerful search engine, which based on “principle” had withdrawn from China in 2010, after it refused to comply with the government’s wishes for it to self-censor content sensitive to its freedom-hating leaders. Now, under a program called “Dragonfly,” Google is said to be developing a version of its search engine that would comply with Chinese demands.
Search is where Google generates huge profits, and missing out on the massive market in Asia clearly bugs them in Silicon Valley.
Apple again has taken a step it says will strengthen privacy for its millions of product users, but the heightened encryption measure has drawn criticism from law enforcement who want the ability to “crack” phones of suspects in search of information during criminal investigations.
And once again a decision by the company has called attention to the inconsistencies of its policies in free countries, as opposed to China.
The measure, announced Wednesday, would alter the settings on the iPhone to severely curb the ability of police to communicate with the devices via external “hacking” instruments. Previously law enforcement could connect and access the iPhones’ data in an unlimited fashion in search of accessibility passwords. Under the new update, the phones will lock out all attempts at access after an hour.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has received accolades for free speech advocacy by respected institutions such as the Newseum, but the company is being called on the carpet for consigning its data storage services – especially crucial encrypted access keys – to a bunch of communists.
Amnesty International announced Thursday it would initiate a social media campaign against Apple, because the Cupertino, Calif. tech giant caved to the Chinese government and agreed to allow its customers’ data to be housed on servers there.
The effort coincides with a visit by Cook to the China Development Forum, where he is co-chairing an event sponsored by the government in which business leaders meet with public officials in an effort to improve relations.
It also follows only a month after Reuters reported that Apple agreed to store encrypted keys used to access customers’ (or, users’) data storage accounts (such as iCloud).