Apple strengthens commitment to human rights with new policy


Apple has once again responded to critics with the publication of a human rights policy it says commits the company to “freedom of information and expression.”

Freedom of expression

“At Apple, we are optimistic about technology’s awesome potential for good,” says CEO Tim Cook. “But we know that it won’t happen on its own. Every day, we work to infuse the devices we make with the humanity that makes us.”

However, the document also points out that Apple is required to obey the law.

“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 human rights.”

The policy doesn’t mention any nation by name and points to the company’s focus on privacy protection, and agrees it should do more to protect these freedoms. The move is widely seen as a reaction to pressure Apple has faced concerning censorship in China, though China is not the only nation to limit such matters.

In a sense, Apple was driven to make the commitment: 40.6% of investors voted against Apple management during the last meeting to support a similar proposal.

Apple watchers will know this level of support is unheard of for shareholder proposals that oppose company recommendations, so it is likely this helped guide the decision. 

Rights campaigners welcome Apple’s move

Organizations that have supported the campaign for Apple to uphold human rights and freedom of expression include several groups concerned with Tibet, the Uyghur people and the SumOfUs campaigning group.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.





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