Now, shareholders have a chance to vote on the resolution, which was proposed by the American Family Association, at the annual meeting this spring.
Here are a few media highlights on this free speech win:
Fox Business quotes ADF Senior Counsel and Senior Vice President of Corporate Engagement Jeremy Tedesco on the impact of SEC’s recent decision:
"This is a big win. This SEC ruling gets shareholders one step closer to holding Apple accountable for vague and subjective App Store policies that are causing censorship," said ADF legal counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “There are legitimate concerns that Apple’s policies and practices are doing serious damage to the free flow of information on critical social and political issues across the globe. Apple owes its shareholders an accounting of whether their resources are being used to uphold our fundamental freedoms or tear them down. That’s not too much to ask, and the SEC ruling means Apple cannot evade accountability."
SEC Sides With Christian Groups Over Apple on Access to Apps, The Daily Signal
The Daily Signal highlights Apple’s vague speech guidelines and how the company is using them to target disfavored speech:
“We will reject apps for any content or behavior that we believe is over the line,” Apple says in the guidelines. “What line, you ask? Well, as a Supreme Court justice once said, ‘I’ll know it when I see it.’ And we think that you will also know it when you cross it.”
The quoted comment was made by Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart in a 1964 case regarding obscenity. However, Apple has used that standard to block information with biblical views about marriage and sexuality from its App Store, Alliance Defending Freedom argued on behalf of the American Family Association.
SEC Rules Major Tech Company Can’t Block Free Speech Resolution, (The Daily Caller)
The Daily Caller gives examples of Apple’s free speech violations and scrutiny the company faces from the Department of Justice:
Apple has blocked religious speech in the past, including removing the Manhattan Declaration app in 2010 and banning the pro-life news organization LifeSite News from Apple News in 2019. Additionally, it has removed popular Bible and Quran apps from the Chinese app store at officials’ request.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is also investigating Apple for potential antitrust violations relating to its app store policies. DOJ antitrust unit chief Jonathan Kanter said in a recent interview with the Financial Times that the probe is “firing on all cylinders,” according to Apple Insider.
The Epoch Times quotes Tedesco on the free speech threats from Apple that raised shareholder concern.
“This proposal is about vague terms of service that Apple can use, and has been using, to shut down political and religious content that they disagree with, or that some external activists, whether they be government or third parties, don’t agree with,” Mr. Tedesco said.
“The Manhattan Declaration app was taken down two years ago because Apple said it offended certain members of their community,” Mr. Tedesco said. “There’s clear evidence that Apple is essentially doing the bidding of Communist China and taking down Christian and other religious apps, or apps that are political in nature, in their China-based app store.”
Apple must consider Christian group's free speech resolution, SEC says, The Christian Post
The Christian Post quotes Tedesco on Apple’s policies and their low Viewpoint Diversity Score Business Index tally:
"Apple needs to rebuild trust with its shareholders and customers, but that can't happen unless it answers basic questions about whether it is treating everyone equally regardless of their political or religious views," stated Tedesco.
“Apple also needs to address its policies that threaten the fundamental freedoms of its customers by implementing the best practices identified by the Viewpoint Diversity Score Business Index, the premiere benchmark for measuring corporate respect for free speech and religious freedom."
In 2023, Apple had an index score of 8%, with concerns about its reported censoring of conservative viewpoints and app store options.
SEC rules in favor of conservative Apple investors (WORLD Magazine)
WORLD Magazine quotes Bowyer Research president Jerry Bowyer on what the victory could mean to the rest of the movement:
“Hats off to the American Family Association—but, you know, what about the other 100, 200 other Christian ministries that own stock that complain about corporate America that don’t do anything about it? Maybe they need to follow the example of AFA,” Bowyer said. “[Christian ministries] are ignoring what we think is the most fruitful mission field for cultural engagement in the country right now.”