For the first time, Apple has issued a new human rights policy that includes a commitment to freedom of information and expression as human rights. This policy is directly linked to this campaign!
In February 2020, at Apple’s last shareholder meeting, over 40% of the company’s investors voted to support our resolution proposing Apple report annually on its policies on freedom of expression and access to information, as well as be more transparent in how it responds to requests from governments such as China to restrict certain apps.
The new human rights policy meets the first part of the resolution by publicly committing to respect freedom of information and expression as human rights but it does not go far enough in outlining the implementation of the company’s commitment and we will be continuing for Apple to do more to uphold the freedom rights of Tibetans, Uyghurs, Hongkongers, Chinese people and Southern Mongolians.
Apple has long been seen as a leader in the provision of access to the internet and as a champion of privacy and security, stating “Privacy is a fundamental human right.”
In reality, Apple enables the Chinese government’s surveillance and censorship of citizens, as well as denying people living under China’s rule access to a free and open internet.
At the request of the government of China, Apple has removed 1,000+ “virtual private networks” (VPNs) from the App Store in China, in addition to news media apps like The New York Times and Quartz.
VPNs not only allow access to information but they provide critical, safe communication channels for Tibetans, Uyghurs, and Chinese dissidents and human rights defenders working to secure basic rights and freedoms.
In October 2019, Apple removed HKmap.live; a crowdsourcing app being used by Hong Kong residents, journalists, and tourists to see where protests and police build-up are happening to allow areas to be avoided and to stay safe.
China is engaged in escalating attacks on human rights across all areas under its rule; backing the violent repression Hong Kong democracy protests, detaining at least one million Uyghur muslims in East Turkestan, inflicting widespread human rights violations in occupied Tibet, and arresting people in China who speak out about the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.
As consumers, concerned citizens, and members of communities in the direct line of fire, we demand Apple drop China’s censorship act and commit to upholding human dignity and political freedom.