Apple Shareholders Vote On Chinese App Removal Policies

Apple is facing a shareholder vote on Wednesday over its policy of obeying demands from Chinese government officials to remove certain apps from its App Store in China.

The shareholder proposal is critical of Apple’s app removal policy, Reuters reported, and it calls on the iPhone maker to state whether it has “publicly committed to respect freedom of expression as a human right.”

In August 2018 media reports suggested that Apple had removed illegal lottery apps from its App Store in China after criticism from state media outlets. It was also reported that had pulled around 25,000 apps from its Chinese store, in an effort to co-operate with Chinese regulators.

App removal

That was not the first time that happened.

In 2017 Apple removed hundreds of VPN apps from the China App Store, including ExpressVPN, VyprVPN and StarVPN, saying they breached local laws.

ExpressVPN responded by accusing Apple of ‘siding with censorship’.

And now according to Reuters, Apple management is facing a shareholder vote on the China policy.

The proposal is one of six that will face a vote at the company’s annual shareholder meeting at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.

Apple is said to oppose the shareholder vote, saying it already provides extensive information about when it takes down apps at the request of governments around the world and that it follows the laws in countries where it operates.

“[W]hile 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,” Apple said in its opposition.

Chinese operations

Apple walks a cautious line in China, as that market is a hugely important growth region for the American company.

In 2015 China introduced strict laws that said that content must be stored on servers in China. It also banned Web addresses not approved by Chinese authorities.

It should be noted that Apple stores Chinese user data in China itself. In August 2014 it partnered up with China Telecom Corp to use its data centres in order to provide a ‘faster service’ for its iCloud users in the country.

Apple also revealed in September 2014 that it had hired a local manager in China to deal with data requests from the Chinese government.

Earlier this month Apple revealed that it had closed all 42 stores in China, amid that country’s battle with the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

Quiz: How well do you know Apple?

Tom Jowitt @TJowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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