Friday, September 4, 2020

Apple’s Commitment to Human Rights

Apple (PDF):

We believe that dialogue and engagement are the best ways to work toward building a better world. In keeping with the UN Guiding Principles, where national law and international human rights standards differ, we follow the higher standard. Where they are in conflict, we respect national law while seeking to respect the principles of internationally recognized human rights.

This is not exactly news. In some cases like end-to-end encryption, Apple stands on principle. In others, it chooses not to push back. When it comes to the availability of iOS apps, Apple’s highest principle is that Apple, not the user, decides what can be installed. And this makes it subject to governmental control.

Tim Hardwick:

The Financial Times reports that Apple’s board of directors approved the policy and published it ahead of a deadline of September 5 for shareholders to submit motions for next year’s investor meeting.

The commitment comes seven months after some of Apple’s shareholders defied management and supported a proposal from a consumer advocacy group called SumOfUs that would have compelled it to uphold freedom of expression globally. Apple reportedly tried to strike the proposal from the agenda but was denied by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Apple has faced increasingly pressure from investors about its relationship with China and its tendency to accede to Beijing’s demands. Last year, for example, Apple removed the app of news outlet Quartz from China’s App Store after complaints from the government that it included content that is illegal in the country.


16 Comments RSS · Twitter

This is Tim Apple, comically out of their depth as usual. Apple decided to police “hate speech” and now they have to police what other countries consider “hate speech”.

Apple supports BLM and antiffa? Fine.

Alex Jones is “hate speech” in the bay area? Fine.

Quartz & other VC blogs are “hate speech” in China? Fine.

In hypocrisy, consistency.

Did any of us consent to pay for this “curation?” Is this where that 30% “tax” is going? Instead of say, user security and dare I say “Apple Quality?”

Call me a freak but I want hardware companies to be hardware companies. Not payment processors. Not “hate speech police.” And especially not (tasteless) television studios.

[…] However, the best summary of that report is not so much that Apple is carefully negotiating its position in China as it is that these are exemptions that the government is eager to crack down on. That is certainly made much easier thanks to Apple’s centralized approach. […]

>Alex Jones is “hate speech” in the bay area? Fine.

Repeatedly using the example of Apple banning somebody who harassed and defamed parents of school shooting victims, and who directly caused members of his audience to threaten them, does not make Apple look particularly bad. It actually makes Apple's actions look justified and responsible.


"Antifa" is shorthand for "anti-fascism", so there's only one "f". Attacking Apple for ostensibly being against fascism, incidentally, also doesn't make them look bad ;-)

But I'd be very interested in finding out what exactly Apple did to "support antifa." All I can find when I google "antifa Apple" is a story of "suspected members" of antifa (I wonder how one becomes a member of antifa, there isn't exactly a form one could fill in) thrashing an Apple store. So perhaps - plot twist! - antifa was on your side all along, and also doesn't like Apple.


I could tell you felt quite a dopamine rush while typing that, but your post simply boils down to:

>silencing [entity I don't like] is okay

Which is a position you'll surely abandon as soon as [entity you do like] gets silenced. Although it is alluring to support something because it currently benefits you, ask yourself if giving tech companies this much power is a good idea.

>I could tell you felt quite a dopamine
>rush while typing that

It's interesting how quickly these discussions devolve into ad hominem attacks.

>silencing [entity I don't like] is okay

That's not what I said. I pointed out that the Alex Jones argument in particular isn't very helpful, since an argument could easily be made that banning him was justified, not because of Jones' political opinions, but because what he was doing was defamation, and thus literally illegal. The Alex Jones example doesn't make Apple look bad, it makes Apple's actions look defensible.

>ask yourself if giving tech companies this
>much power is a good idea

It plainly isn't a good idea.

>an argument could easily be made that banning him was justified, not because of Jones' political opinions, but because what he was doing was defamation, and thus literally illegal.

It's only defamation if it's false. Whether or not it is false is a matter for a jury–the finder of fact–to determine. Which is the entire point you're missing. You want billion & trillion dollar tech companies adjudicating and censoring, because you're on their side politically. The only principle this serves is your own self-interest.

No company which makes itself a public square should be in the business of determining who may speak. The courts can do that just fine. See Marsh v. Alabama for details.

Yes, Tim Cook's Apple remind me of Early Days Google. The Do no Evil BS.

>It's only defamation if it's false

Jones's attorney admitted that it was false, and Jones himself also implied as much. In fact, Jones defense at this point is "I wasn't actually serious", not "what I said was true."

>No company which makes itself a public
>square should be in the business of
>determining who may speak

That sounds great on the surface, but it's not an actual position any reasonable person holds, and I'm pretty sure you don't hold that position yourself. Should Apple allow ransomware into its store on the grounds that it should not determine who may speak? It's quite obvious that a line has to be drawn somewhere, and "illegal activity that directly harms people" seems to be a reasonable line to a lot of people.

The problem here is not that Apple draws that line. The problem is that the line Apple draws is absolute, since Apple is the only avenue towards publishing software on iOS.

Let me spell this out as clearly as I can: Apple should not prevent Ales Jones from publishing an app that runs on iOS. Apple should not prevent people who want that app from downloading, installing, and running it.

More generally, technology should not supersede laws, and try to prevent people from committing illegal acts.

But making the argument that Apple, a publicly traded company that is not part of the government in any way, and thus not subject to first amendment free speech regulation, must publish defamatory content in its own store against its own self-interest, is not helpful. It doesn't make Apple look like the bad guy.

Also: "Cody" and "Guy", huh? I sense a fellow Final Fight fan ;-)

The reason I keep coming back to Alex Jones is because he was the watershed moment of when Apple and the rest of Silly Valley stopped being vendors and started being the final arbiters of what we can say and what we should think.

If there's any intelligent life in that COVID-19 emptied donut off of Highway 280, this is when and where you royally screwed up.

"You shouldn't use Jones because he doesn't help your argument"

"You shouldn't use Gab because they don't help your argument" (Gab did the right thing by telling Apple to pound sand)

"You shouldn't use Tucker Carlson" (even he notices, and does not need Apple or big tech for reach)

"You shouldn't use BIG_ORANGE_CHEETO" (Trump made Tim Apple pivot away from China)

The list goes on as to who I shouldn't use. So I'll just use the first case where Apple and the rest of "big tech" royally screwed up, made a ton of more work for themselves doing something they never should have sought to do, and became the "bad guys" in this sordid play we call "Curated User Experience."

Which, incidentally I did not pay for, nor will I pay for, and will tell Tim Cook to his face to pound sand. I'm very tired and retired from Silly Valley and at this point have little to lose.

I don't see the point of "paying for" the centralized power that Apple wields where they can revoke any app that runs on macOS, at any time for any reason. Or as Charlie Monroe (and I, a loyal for years user) found out, no reason whatsoever.

If Apple cancels Apps I want to run and people I want to read, then I'll gladly tell them to pound sand. Gab set a great example there and neither Apple nor the the rest of the FAAMGs can touch them, out of the Fedi. (which they have decoupled from for reasons)

Apple and the rest have also taken on HUGE technical debt in order to "curate speech".. I just wanna ask those currently "WFH, AFK" from the Donut off 280: Was all of this worth it? Please fix the remaining kernel panic in Catalina, thanks.

I'm going to be on Catalina for at least the next year. After that, maybe a NAS array no macs, and dying iPads. Tim Apple's "Windows with more grief" is not my idea of a good time.

And Lukas still does not understand that companies that intercede in defamation cases WITHOUT BEING ASKED TO become part of that process. Neither Apple nor the rest of big tech is a "neutral party" anymore.

They are publishers, and it's only a matter of time before their exemptions (section 230 in the USA) are stripped away. And when did this cascading failure on their part start? When they decided to "cancel" a clownlike "media personality" named "Alex Jones."

>They are publishers

Yes, of course they are. The second Apple created its first store, Apple became a publisher. There's no avoiding that. They put some stuff into their stores, and they reject other stuff, which, yes, makes them not neutral.

Nobody who runs a store is neutral. Even eBay cancels auctions from time to time. Everybody draws a line.

The problem isn't that Apple is a publisher, and decides what to publish, the problem is that Apple is the *only* publisher.

>And when did this cascading failure on their part start?

You think this started with Jones?

It started as early as 2009, when Yoot Saito wanted to publish a sequel to Seaman called Gabo, and Apple didn't publish it because they deemed it "unpleasant."

Back in 2009, Apple already rejected content merely because it was "unpleasant." If that's the line of attack you want to take, that's a way better example than banning somebody for actual defamation, and for putting actual people's lives in danger.

To be clear, I think it's entirely valid to not publish something because it is "unpleasant." That's great, I wish Apple would still follow that rule, because then 99% of the garbage in the App Store would disappear.

But not putting something in the App Store should not outright kill that product.

>The problem isn't that Apple is a publisher, and decides what to publish, the problem is that Apple is the *only* publisher.


So many of these problems would be resolved if iOS were more like the Mac. The only cost would be some of Apple's revenue (potentially), and iOS's "purity".

Is that list of virulent racists supposed to help your argument?

Yes, because those "virulent racists" as you call them are MARGINALIZED. The 1st amendment and protected speech laws like it are meant to protect ALL SPEECH, especially MARGINALIZED and MINORITY speech. It has to apply to all. Tim Apple seems to have forgotten this.

If the speech is "toxic" then it can be dealt with via "due process" like Alex Jones was dealt with in the civil court system. You'll note that Jones is not in jail. Why is that?

Hey SIRI post "we live in a society" JPG hit send.

Wait, so your point is that Apple should provide a safe space for marginalized members of minority groups, and ensure that they are protected? Interesting. If that is true, then surely Apple should ensure that people like Jones and Carlson, who fight against marginalized minorities and actually endanger their lives, aren't given a free platform on its stores. So you're inadvertently arguing for a way more extreme position than Apple is currently taking.

Anyways, protected speech laws don't apply to Apple, they're a private company, not a government entity. Due process is also irrelevant, Apple is not putting Jones in jail, they're just not putting his apps on their store. When Apple finds malware on the store, they don't first sue the dev and wait for the verdict, they remove it. Are you saying that Apple should leave malware in the store until a court tells them that it is actually illegal malware?

If you're so offended by this, why weren't you offended when Apple introduced the App Store and flat-out decided that porn wouldn't be in the store? Isn't porn also protected by the first amendment? Aren't porn actors also marginalized minorities?

Yes, because those “virulent racists” as you call them are MARGINALIZED.

Are they? I thought they won the 2016 election?

The 1st amendment and protected speech laws like it are meant to protect ALL SPEECH

Well, yeah, but last I checked, Apple wasn’t a government, so this entire argument is irrelevant.

Free speech means the government doesn’t lock you up for your political views. Apple isn’t the government, and also doesn’t to my knowledge operate buildings in which they lock up customers.

You’ll note that Jones is not in jail. Why is that?

Because in a modern state that has rule of law, not every lawsuit has to result in incarceration?

Apple's iron handed control of their platform means they can and have sold out their users to authoritarian governments. I am uninterested in their rebuttal until they apologize to their Chinese customer base.

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