Apple Shareholders Decline To Create Human Rights Board During Vote

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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Apple shareholders ultimately voted Tuesday against a proposal to establish an internal human rights commission, according to Reuters.

The potential initiative was shot down by 94.4 percent of shareholders, far more than the 67.8 percent rate of disapproval for another proposal to grant shareholders a reformed ability to nominate directors to the official board. Apple as a company advocated for shareholders to vote against both of the measures, and succeeded, Reuters reports.

The fact that the idea of human rights committee in Apple was pitched by some entity shows that there are at least some people who are highly concerned about the U.S.-based tech giant’s role and actions around the world.

Just as he’s done with Facebook, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has sternly questioned Apple over its business intentions in China. He called out the company and its CEO Tim Cook during a congressional hearing titled “The Long Arm of China: Exporting Authoritarianism With Chinese Characteristics” in December because they had recently applauded China’s purported vision of an open internet.

Rubio said the dystopian irony of China — a country which was given the title of the worst abuser of internet freedom for a third year in a row — hosting the summit is appalling.

“The most confusing part of it all is that Apple CEO Tim Cook stood up at that conference, and he celebrated China’s vision of an open internet. He delivered the keynote speech on the opening day of that gathering,” Rubio said, adding higher-ups at fellow American tech companies like Google and Cisco also gave speeches.

The fervent lawmaker said Apple is openly capitulating to America’s foreign adversary, all in the name of profit. What makes it worse, Rubio says, is that Apple and its leaders often “lecture us about free speech and human rights” and other problems here in America. (RELATED: Power And Billions Of Dollars: Apple’s Deal With Communist China, And Why They Did It)

And then Apple goes “abroad and are fully cooperative on some grotesque violation of human rights because there’s a lot of money to be made, and they don’t want to offend their host country,” he continued.

Apple has seemingly given in to China in multiple respects, either out of acquiescence or discreet enthusiasm. For instance, not long after the company announced that it is building a data center in China to adhere to the country’s oppressive new cybersecurity laws, Apple removed The New York Times app from its Chinese app store at the beginning of the year.

Apple also removed Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), software essential for Chinese users who desire internet freedom and the ability to jump “the Great Firewall of China,” from its app store late last month, after the Chinese government sent out grim warnings.

There are also the numerous reports of factory workers at iPhone manufacturers jumping out of windows to kill themselves — a decision presumably stemming from the allegedly terrible, inhumane working conditions.

Just as it likely did with roughly six percent of Apple shareholders, such actions contribute to the ire of observers, including public officials.

“China already does these things [restrict the internet] and U.S. companies have already acquiesced, in many instances, to their structure and that’s extremely problematic,” Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said at the Tech Policy Institute Aspen Forum in 2017. “You said ‘China is a success.’ China is not a success if you believe in liberty or freedom, but in terms of market control and designate how things are going to work globally as a whole, then maybe.”

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