back to article Apple commits to support human rights - 'We believe in the critical importance of an open society'*

Apple has posted a Human Rights Policy in an attempt to placate shareholders and quell criticism of its handling of censorship requests. The Cupertino maker of various iStuff on Friday published a four-page board-approved document [PDF] outlining its stance on supporting human rights, with a few caveats. "Our human rights …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    So much for Apple's vaunted privacy...

    ... if Zuckerborg scares them out of doing it. I guess it it'll be back in an approved form later.

    Makes you wonder what other privacy features have been nobbled to keep other corporations or governments happy.

    1. martynhare

      Re: So much for Apple's vaunted privacy...

      Apple have delayed the change until early 2021 but it actually makes no difference to folks who already care about their privacy because those people:

      0) Enable “Limit Ad Tracking” which makes the IDFA blank for all apps anyway (iOS 13)

      1) Don’t have Facebook or other ad-supported malware installed in the first place

      2) Use tools to build iOS VPN policies which block specific IPs and domains

      3) Use blocking DNS servers through policy as a second line of defence

      4) Use the Content Filtering API to block other trackers from within WebKit

      To cover 0 just look in Settings, it’s a simple toggle. To cover 2, 3 and 4 with ease, I happen to use AdGuard for iOS with a lifetime license but there are many other decent tools in the App Store which do the same - as Apple gradually extended their APIs since iOS 11 to better suit these kinds of apps.

      All Apple did was delay providing normies who didn’t know about Limit Ad Tracking the ability to blank the IDFA per-app, alongside warning them about the privacy implications for every service they use. The end result is actually a negative for the people who go out of their way to prevent spying but a massive positive for those who don’t.

      I haven’t seen an advert on my tablet in a heck of a long time. I even block non-advertising elements like the sign in, comments section and subscribe buttons on sites like YouTube because it’s so easy to do with a couple of taps inside iOS Safari.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: So much for Apple's vaunted privacy...

        The problem with 0) is that it isn't the default. While some people might know there is a setting and be motivated to change it, the fact that it is the default means most won't.

        That's the Facebook / Google way of doing things. Apple has a chance to be different here if for no other reason than to stick it to these other companies who are rivals after all.

  2. Magani
    Unhappy

    Place your bets...

    "We’re required to comply with local laws, and at times there are complex issues about which we may disagree with governments and other stakeholders on the right path forward,"

    So if it's a choice between human rights and making money, which one will the fruity ones defenestrate?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Place your bets...

      The same as nearly every other large corporation.

      1. bronskimac

        Re: Place your bets...

        Doesn't make it right.

        1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

          Re: Place your bets...

          Then don't use the products of large organisations,

          It's a difficult path but not impossible, and it's yours to take.

          1. Falmari

            Re: Place your bets...

            "It's a difficult path but not impossible"

            I disagree I think it is impossible. You may be able to use some products not produced by large organisations but not all.

            If you drive you likely own a car made by a large organisation unless you bought some expensive custom sports car and even then parts of it will have come from a major car manufacturer. Your computer Intel inside? White goods probable from a major organisation and even when you buy from what looks like a smaller company turns out they are owned by a large organisation.

            Then utilities like water, electricity, phone network, etc, good luck finding one that if not supplied by a large organisation, the supplier is not ultimately owned by a large organisation.

            1. Robert Grant Silver badge

              Re: Place your bets...

              You can choose to use water utilities with good human rights records. That one doesn't seem too hard.

              1. Giles C Bronze badge

                Re: Place your bets...

                Hmm

                In the uk we have regional water companies and you are not allowed to change supplier. So I get water from Anglian water and if I don’t like it - tough....

                1. Robert Grant Silver badge

                  Re: Place your bets...

                  And its human rights record?

            2. Giles C Bronze badge

              Re: Place your bets...

              My kit car was built by a small company (tiger racing less than 10 employees) but...

              The engine is a ford zetec

              The gearbox is a ford type 9

              The axles came from a ford Sierra

              The ecu came from webcon

              The tyres are from Yokohama (company not the town)

              A lot of the ancillaries were small companies but most electrical parts are from companies such as Delphi or Lucas.

              Sorry but you can’t avoid the large companies when you have a car unless you are prepared to make every component from scratch yourself, and nobody does that.

      2. codemonkey

        Re: Place your bets...

        That's just the issue with capitalism. Profit before people. Just take a second to look around.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Place your bets...

      > So if it's a choice between human rights and making money, which one will the fruity ones defenestrate?

      If Apple took the human rights view then there's not one single country anywhere in the world that they could sell to with a clear conscience.

  3. b0llchit Silver badge
    Alert

    Policy worthy of politicians

    Apple: "We support(*) freedom."

    (*) as long as we, Apple, a) get our 30% cut of all the money flowing and b) are the sole judge and jury of what "freedom" means. Additionally, offer of free(dom) may require transfer of real money in select Apple jurisdictions. Warranty void when money transferred.

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Mushroom

    "Apple has a huge influence on people’s freedom of expression globally"

    No you don't.

    Not when you kowtow to whatever dictatorial demand is made in a sector where you want to make more money.

    Do not try to abuse the fact that actual democracies allow you to support freedom of speech without consequence with the fact that you will not enforce said freedom of speech if it cuts into your market share when you're dealing with a repressive regime.

    Either you have the balls to put your money where your mouth is, or you shut the fuck up.

    1. karlkarl Silver badge

      Re: "Apple has a huge influence on people’s freedom of expression globally"

      Hah, so true. That's like saying:

      "My little fluffy pet bunny called Alphonse has a huge influence on people's freedom of expression globally"

      As awesome as it makes him feel, it is quite simply not true. The only difference is that my bunny is actually quite a big part of my life and I don't want to demolish every office building he owns.

      1. ibmalone Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: "Apple has a huge influence on people’s freedom of expression globally"

        People often ask me when I realised it was all going downhill. I say there were many signs along the way, but the final wake up call was finding out the rabbits were buying up real estate.

  5. HildyJ Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Apple has Cooked human rights

    Cook has managed to appease both Xi and Trump by letting human rights fall by the wayside. Apple has become ginormously successful by only supporting ethical standards when they don't interrupt cash flow. And I see no signs that it is going to change

  6. YetAnotherJoeBlow

    Engagement

    "we’re convinced the best way we can continue to promote openness is to remain engaged"

    This makes me puke every time companies say it. Especially with China - you don't engage with China you acquiesce or get booted. Apple is addicted to the Chinese Yuan/RMB. It is not just China either.

    1. Tessier-Ashpool

      Re: Engagement

      As opposed to what? Curtailing access to iphones in China, or eliminating google search entirely? How is that helping anyone?

      Sure, companies could take a principled stand and say that they won’t be doing business with Russia, China, etc. but that won’t actually diminish repression.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Engagement

        "Sure, companies could take a principled stand and say that they won’t be doing business with Russia, China, etc. but that won’t actually diminish repression."

        If I don't rob you, someone else will, so I might as well.

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Engagement

        This is Apple we're talking about. Why you brought up Google is beyond me, but since you have, Apple could take a page from Google's book. Granted, a page Google's been trying to rip out of the book, but they haven't yet. China told Google that they have to filter things for Chinese searches. Google decided to stand for freedom of information there and refused. China blocked them. That's standing up for what you believe in. Apple ... hasn't.

        Now that's not fair to either of them; Google has been trying to build a Chinese search engine, only being stopped by small commercial things and a protest by their own workers. Therefore, I can't give them any credit now for standing up for stuff. The fact remains that at one point, they had principles and they stood up for them. That would be nice to see again. It's not exactly fair to Apple either, as they have stood up to some things. They stood up to the Americans when they wanted a backdoor; that was nice. So they're not terrible. They have not, however, stood up to China's requests for censorship.

      3. DoctorNine

        Re: Engagement

        I would submit, Tessier-Ashpool, that requiring China to play by the same set of rules in commerce as the rest of the world, is increasingly a thing now. Either you don't understand why this is true, or you don't care, but either way you are functioning as an apologist for official Chinese Communist Party policies which could fairly be characterized as parasitic, predatory, repressive, and possibly even genocidal, with respect to the Uighurs, or Tibet.

        When you hold as much financial influence as Apple does, to simply mouth platitudes, rather than actively becoming part of the coalition seeking to reform China's bad behavior, is worse than doing nothing. It's pretending to help, whilst substantively propping up the offending regime.

        Not a good look for Apple.

        1. Robert Grant Silver badge

          Re: Engagement

          "increasingly a thing now"?

          "not a good look"?

          These are not the phrases of an expert.

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: Engagement

            "increasingly a thing now"? "not a good look"? "These are not the phrases of an expert."

            Actually, they are. While that post may not have come from an expert, experts use those phrases with frequency. "Increasingly a thing now" is a quick and informal way of saying "is a policy which has been adopted with increasing frequency by a variety of participants". "Not a good look" is a quick and informal way of saying "even if the decision is in line with the ideals of the institution, it runs contrary to the ideals of an important section of the public. Continuing to pursue the current course may result in a negative reaction by the public which may carry with it additional consequences".

            But also, who cares ["What relevance does the phrasing have to the discussion"]? This is an internet forum. We state our opinions here. This is not limited to experts and there are nonexperts here. We also write informally to get our point across. Do you have any comments about the opinion stated in that point, or do you simply want to point out the use of an informal expression on an informal forum because you aren't able to refute the original point on its merits?

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Engagement

      "Apple is addicted to the Chinese Yuan/RMB. It is not just China either."

      And when that's your prime manufacturing location, you're pretty much stuck with keeping them happy.

  7. Chris G Silver badge

    Wow,I am impressed

    That a company that more money and worth than whole countries should be so principled and supportive of truth and human freedoms.

    Nah! I'm talking out of my arse as well.

  8. macjules Silver badge

    You left out a bit

    "The Register has asked Apple to comment. ®"

  9. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Apple remains

    committed to human rights*

    *except where money comes before morality**

    **especially when it comes to the workers actually making our products in aforementioned regimes***

    ***and paying taxes in regimes that allow freedom of speech

    Apple inc. would like to comment , but are too busy counting their profits before stashing them in an off shore tax haven where nobody can get at them...

    1. Wade Burchette Silver badge

      Re: Apple remains

      * and except for our employees, where we make them clock-out and then force them to wait to be searched on their time.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can they print copies off for the kiddies working in the sweat shops approved by local laws? Maybe they kind find a use for it by using it to wipe their arses.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I love apple.

  12. DenTheMan

    Not from the horses mouth..

    .,at least in public

    Donald Trump would say 'freedom is fine , ownership is frowned upon, leadership is enemy'.

    It is a shame that China sees personal freedom as the enemy. Oh the conundrum.

  13. Falmari
    Alert

    Total bollocks

    “Our Commitment to Human Rights”. Total bollocks.

    This is all about their bottom line. Companies are not people they cannot have beliefs, morals, or ethics. To a certain extent they can reflect these qualities from those in charge/owners. But unless the company is privately owned by a single person, they can never fully reflect those qualities.

    Companies are created to make profit that’s it, they do what is best for their bottom line. A company will be more moral, ethical etc if it improves their bottom line.

    The way I see it is the way these companies behave is more a reflection of our society’s beliefs, morals, or ethics. We all (I included) say the right thing, say the sound bites to our friends on the internet etc but do we ever do anything no. If you want a company to be better, then don’t buy from them, or work for them. Not always easy to do now, don’t buy Apple, then who do you buy from that is better morally.

    But this is the situation society has gotten itself into. We buy this or that because it is cheaper. We don’t care that it is cheaper because it is made in a sweat shop etc. We just care that we get more bangs for our buck. So, every company to compete goes to where it is cheaper and sod morals.

    We all complain about the morals of these companies, maybe society should be looking to itself to see what it should do.

    1. DenTheMan

      Re: Total bollocks

      Exactly.

      We are all hypocrites. We just wish our politicians were better than the vermin they often seem

      1. Falmari
        Devil

        Re: Total bollocks

        So true,

        Vermin, exactly we get the politicians we deserve ;)

  14. six_tymes

    the largest consortium of hypocrites on the planet.

    "human rights"what liars they are. they do not care about factory workers in china, many having to work 80 hour work weeks until they go crazy and commit suicide. that has been going on since 2011, apple was made aware of these issues back in 2011, and left it up to their supplier chain to resolve, they did nothing for years.

  15. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Available on Apple Books?

    Have Apple published their Human Rights Policy in Apple Books? Has it been categorised fiction or non-fiction?

  16. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
    Big Brother

    Yeah, sure.

    "We support(*) freedom."

    .

    .

    *Terms and conditions apply and we don't really mean it.

  17. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Is Apple a Cuckold and/or a Cuckoo and/or Stealthy Cuck00/Remote Access Trojan?

    Are there punitive US trade and technology sanctions against Apple product suppliers based in China? Is Apple supporting their rights to freely manufacture and/or provision their lucrative capital supply chain?

    Or are they highly selective in which human society's rights they openly support, with them being prepared to support claims that all are equal, but in reality and actuality are some, who may or may not be just a chosen few, considerably more equal than others and thus there be always some winners and many more losers and such is just the perverse and subversive nature of the hellish myopic beast? :-).

  18. deadlockvictim

    Ireland & Hollyhell

    It's now quite common for Apple employees to refer to their workplace in Cork as Hollyhell (instead of Hollyhill). A former employee liked the situation to a digital chicken factory with long well designed bank of cages. That's since they have removed the cubicle floor design at the facility to introduce a more "transparent workplace". Employees were ordered to remove all personal items from their desk spaces during a visit by Tim Cook to the Apple European HQ in 2015.

    Taken from: https://politics.ie/threads/hollyhell-whats-it-like-to-work-for-apple-in-ireland.255372/

  19. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Trollface

    "We believe in the critical importance of an open society in which information flows freely..."

    Does that include the information required to play games powered by Unreal Engine? Or the player metrics tracking information that is baked into Fortnite?

  20. Potemkine! Silver badge

    PR BS

    Apple is Big Brother, building its own closed, proprietary Universe no one being part of it can escape. Apple talking about Freedom is like China talking about democracy. It's pure PR BS.

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