Tech giant Apple is facing a shareholder vote on a proposal critical of the company’s decision to remove apps from its store at the request of the Chinese government. Shareholders want to ask Tim Cook and his company if it is “publicly committed to respect freedom of expression as a human right.”
Reuters reports that Apple shareholders will vote this week on a proposal critical of the company’s decision to remove apps at the request of the Chinese government. Shareholders will reportedly be calling on Apple to report whether it has “publicly committed to respect freedom of expression as a human right.”
This shareholder proposal is one of six that Apple will face a vote on at the company’s annual shareholder meeting at Apple HQ in Cupertino, California. The vote on freedom of expression focuses mainly on Apple’s decision in 2017 to remove virtual private network apps from its App Store in China which allowed users to bypass China’s “Great Firewall” which restricts access to overseas websites.
Apple has opposed the proposal arguing that it provides extensive information when it takes down apps at the requests of governments worldwide and it follows the laws in the countries it operates in. “[W]hile we may disagree with certain decisions at times, we do not believe it would be in the best interests of our users to simply abandon markets, which would leave consumers with fewer choices and fewer privacy protections,” Apple said in its opposition.
The proxy advisory firms Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services have both recommended votes in favor of the measure, according to Reuters. In the past, Apple shareholders have voted down human rights measures pertaining to China, in 2018 they defeated a proposal that urged Apple to create a human rights panel to oversee its workplace conditions and censorship in China. 9.4 percent of shareholders voted against that proposal.
Other proposals include one that allows shareholders to nominate more than one director to Apple’s board and whether to tie executive compensation to environmental sustainability metrics. Apple opposes both proposals.