- An Apple shareholder has requested the tech giant compile a report on its human rights record, particularly as it pertains to free speech
- Apple shareholders previously voted against a proposal to establish an internal human rights commission on Feb. 13
- The shareholder, the National Legal and Policy Center, called the company out for its ties to the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center, which has a history of inaccuracies
An Apple shareholder filed a proposal Tuesday for the company to submit a report on its human rights record, specifically as it pertains to free speech.
The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) submitted the formal request to Apple so shareholders can “evaluate the company’s actual commitment to human rights,” according to the shareholder. The organization proposed the report for an Apple shareholder meeting in early 2019.
The NLPC pointed out the company’s continued business in China — which has a record of human rights violations — as evidence that Apple and its CEO, Tim Cook, don’t place human rights or free speech above business.
“[T]he Securities and Exchange Commission has consistently recognized that human rights constitute a significant policy issue,” the organization wrote. “Freedom of speech and association are fundamental human rights.”
“The company is assisting in the implementation of [Chinese President] Xi Jingping’s digital dictatorship in China, the most ambitious assault on free speech in human history. The CEO [Tim Cook] headlined events at which the architects of this impending dictatorship openly described their totalitarian goals and methods,” the NLPC continued.
The events Cook attended which the NLPC refer to are: “[I]n March 2018 [Cook] co-chaired the so-called China Development Forum, sponsored by the Communist Chinese government,” a post on the organization’s website said. “In December 2017, our CEO keynoted the World Internet Conference, another Chinese government event.”
Cook has been a vocal supporter of human rights — defending progressive liberal causes such as accepting the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award in October 2015, joining the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights’ Board in April 2016, and explicitly declaring “privacy is a human right” in April 2016. However, the nature of the company’s continued business with China suggests otherwise.
China, whose internet censorship is labeled the “Great Firewall” for its extreme censorship, is the third most restrictive internet in the world, behind Syria and Ethiopia, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported on Aug. 21. The country has one of the most intrusive government surveillance systems ever created, The Atlantic reported on Feb. 2
“The company’s relationship with Beijing now looks more like a partnership,” NLPC wrote. (RELATED: Apple CEO To Make $120 Million In Stocks This Week)
The NLPC’s grievances don’t end in China, however. In the U.S., Apple has openly contributed to organizations which aim to “silence and smear” individuals with whom they disagree.
“The company is complicit in the suppression of free speech in the United States,” the NLPC added.
Apple “contributed $1 million in shareholder funds to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which seeks to silence and smear groups and individuals with which it disagrees on policy issues,” NLPC wrote.
The SPLC has made a number of inaccuracies, targeting either conservatives or anti-Islamic extremists, which it has had retract.
Some notable individuals the SPLC has inaccurately included on lists similar to its “hate lists” or its “hate watch lists” include Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and British politician Maajid Nawaz.
The SPLC in June 2018 awarded Nawaz and his organization, the Quilliam Foundation, $3.375 million in a settlement for mistakenly listing the Quilliam Foundation an “extremist” organization in mid-2017.
Additionally, the SPLC placed Carson, a former Republican presidential candidate, next to neo-Nazis on the “extremist watch list” in early 2015. After public backlash, the SPLC apologized and removed Carson from the list, The Daily Caller reported in February 2015.
The SPLC also assists Facebook, Amazon, Google and Twitter determine which organizations are “hate groups,” TheDCNF reported in June.
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