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Apple Faces a Showdown with Activist Shareholders over Human Rights related to the removal of the Hong Kong Mapping App

1 X SumOfUs logo


The activist group known as the "SumOfUs" is a community of people from around the world committed to curbing the growing power of corporations. They want to buy from, work for and invest in companies that respect the environment, treat their workers well and respect democracy. And they're not afraid to hold companies to account when they don’t.


Weeks ago the SumOfUs published a notice of a meeting titled "How Apple is suppressing free speech in China: Live media briefings with human rights activists and consumer campaigners."


Today we're learning that Apple will face a showdown with the SumOfUs over its human rights policies after criticism that it kowtowed to Beijing when it removed a controversial mapping app during the Hong Kong protests.


The Financial Times reports that "Shareholders at the iPhone maker’s annual meeting next year will be asked to press the company for a public commitment to respect freedom of expression. Apple lost a bid to have the resolution struck from the agenda.


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.


'[Apple] has acquiesced to government demands that have limited individual freedom of expression,' said SumOfUs, a consumer advocacy group that submitted the proposal, which argued Apple’s actions had led to punishment for Hong Kongers, Tibetans and Uighur Muslims.


Apple declined to comment beyond arguments it made against the proposal to the SEC in October when it said it "must follow applicable law wherever it does business and believes in engaging with governments even when there may be disagreement."  


Its policy has proved contentious in Hong Kong, a 'special administrative region' within China, forcing Apple to walk a fine line between the interests of Beijing and the quasi-democratic city." For full details, read the Financial Times report.


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