Apple's shareholders are preparing to vote on a proposal critical of the company's previous decision to remove VPN apps from the App Store at the request of the Chinese government.
The proposal is just one of six that will face a vote at the company's annual shareholder meeting at its headquarters in Cupertino, California. The shareholders are also calling on Apple to report whether it has “publicly committed to respect freedom of expression as a human right”.
The proposal on freedom of expression deals with the company's decision back in 2017 to remove VPN apps from its App Store in China. VPNs allow users to bypass China's Great Firewall in order to access information and sites banned by the country's government (like the China WhatsApp ban).
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Freedom of expression
Apple is against the proposal as the company says it already provides extensive information regarding when it takes down apps at the request of governments. The iPhone maker also stressed that it follows the laws in the countries where it operates.
In its opposition, Apple made the case that abandoning these markets would hurt consumers, saying:
“While we may disagree with certain decisions at times, we do not believe it would be in the best interests of our users to simply abandon markets, which would leave consumers with fewer choices and fewer privacy protections.”
By opposing its shareholders' proposal on freedom of expression, Apple is signaling that it could potentially decide to remove VPN apps from its Chinese App Store once again and this move could even come sooner rather than later, as the Chinese government continues its crackdown on VPNs.
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