Apple which has long-faced scrutiny for bowing down to the demands and requests of government such as China has publicly committed itself to “freedom of information and expression.” In a newly published document, reported by the Financial Times Apple states its respect for core human rights, but also the need to follow local law.
The document begins with a quote from Apple CEO Tim Cook about Apple’s goal to infuse technology, and humanity together, saying:
While the document comes on the backdrop of long-lasting criticism of giving into Chinese regime demands, Apple does not directly state any specific country. Instead, Apple reaffirms its “deep commitment” to international human rights set out by the United Nations.
We believe that dialogue and engagement are the best ways to work toward building a betterApple
world. In keeping with the UN Guiding Principles, where national law and international human
rights standards differ, we follow the higher standard. Where they are in conflict, we
respect national law while seeking to respect the principles of internationally recognized
Apple says that it is required to comply with local laws and that if those local laws create complex issues, it believes that through engagement and conversation, it’s able to keep its services and products open to as many people. In China complex national laws and strict moderation of what information is available makes it impossible for companies like Apple to keep all of its services, such as the App Store as is without some form of censorships.
Many apps available in the United States and around the world aren’t available in China. Recalling my trips to China in 2018 and 2019, there are no VPN, social media, or international databases like Google or Wikipedia available for download on the App Store, and are blocked on all networks. Additionally, the government is constantly blocking certain VPN apps from working. Unless you download at least 20 VPN providers before arrival, you’re likely going to spend your trip/time without access to the outside world.
A report published last month wrote in detail the way that Apple has given into demands from China, but how it also rejects certain App Store takedown requests. In some cases, Apple placed user privacy over giving the Chinese government direct access to content and user data.
Apple also touches base on racial justice and inequality, mentioning its Racial Equity and Justice Initiative and its effort to create a diverse workforce that’s more inclusive, and motivated to tackle systemic racism.
We’re also deeply committed to the essential work of improving diversity, increasingApple
inclusion, and advancing racial justice—both within our company and through efforts like
our Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, which is focused on education, economic equality,
and criminal justice reform. Our efforts here are motivated by a strong desire to create a
welcoming and supportive environment for all our teams and to help combat discrimination,
injustice, and systemic racism. We require every Apple employee to participate in trainings
on unconscious bias, and we’re working to improve representation and diversity in
positions of leadership and at every level of our company.
You can read the full document, which was published ahead of a September 5th deadline for investors to submit documents and motions for next year’s investors meeting here.