Apple formalizes freedom of speech promises after pressure from investors over China censorship

Apple has issued an official statement in support of its commitment to human rights and freedom of speech. Apple says it believes “the critical importance of an open society” and “the best way we can continue to engage in open publicity, even where we cannot agree with the laws of any country.”

A group of investors have expressed concern about Apple’s censorship demands in China, such as the removal of VPN applications from the Apple Store or the shifting of citizens’ iCloud data to Chinese-controlled data centers. But Apple’s new statement doesn’t mean it’s going to change how it handles it. The company says it will always follow local law as it has done, which means it will continue to lock iPhones and other Apple devices in China until Chinese law changes.

A shareholder group called SumaFU has repeatedly offered to force Apple to double its promises of freedom of speech to investors. Its proposals have so far failed to garner enough support for Apple shareholders to vote.

The group said it was pleased that Apple had released its own human rights policy. However, they are still campaigning for the release of reports about how companies are restricting free expression, similar to the Environment and Suppliers Liability Report for publishing Apple reports. It plans to get shareholders to vote at the Apple 2021 Investors Meeting, which usually takes place in February.

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