Activist shareholders push Apple on why it booted Hong Kong protest app

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Activist shareholders push Apple on why it booted Hong Kong protest app
Apple banned the HKmap.live app earlier this year.
Photo: Fredrik Rubensson/Flickr CC

Activist shareholders will use Apple’s annual meeting in 2020 to push Apple on why it removed a mapping app used by protesters in Hong Kong.

Beijing reportedly pressured Apple to remove the app from the App Store. At the time, Tim Cook defended Apple’s decision to pull the app after saying it had received “credible information” that the app was being used to help commit violence against individuals and property.

The non-binding resolution will ask Apple how it respond to demands which limit free expression or access to information. The shareholders also asks Apple to make policies that outline its stance on these issues, such as in Hong Kong.

“[Apple] has acquiesced to government demands that have limited individual freedom of expression,” said SumOfUs, a consumer advocacy group which submitted the proposal. It additionally says that Apple’s decision led to punishment for various individuals and groups. These groups include Hong Kongers, Tibetans and Uighur Muslims.

Apple tried to block a shareholder vote on the resolution. However, the US Securities and Exchange Commission denied this request. Apple said that it must, “follow applicable law wherever it does business.”

Cupertino has yet to schedule a data for its 2020 annual general meeting. But Apple usually holds these meetings in late February.

Shareholders want to know about Hong Kong

SumOfUs is just the latest group to hit back at Apple over its decision to ban the app. In October, a bipartisan group including senators Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ted Cruz sent a letter to Tim Cook. The letter expressed their “strong concern” over Apple’s decision to remove HKmap.live from the App Store.

The letter stated that: “Cases like these raise real concern about whether Apple and other large US corporate entities will bow to growing Chinese demands rather than lose access to a billion Chinese consumers.”

News of Apple’s concessions to government pressure additionally drew ire from U.S. lawmakers. Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley tweeted, “Who is really running Apple? Tim Cook or Beijing?” Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton said: “Apple is yet another capitalist who’ll sell rope to communists to hang us.”

Recently Apple also experienced backlash relating to Russia annexing the Crimean Peninsula. Inside Russia, Apple agreed to show Crimea as belonging to Russia in both Apple Maps and the Weather app.

Source: Financial Times