New Shareholder Activism Project

We wrote a sample shareholder proposal based on our concerns with Apple. Please see the project page for more general information about how this will work. This draft was written by David with some contributions by Alice.

Shareholder Proposal entitled “Consumer Privacy Commitment”

 

Resolved Amendment to Article VI of the bylaws of Apple, Inc.:

 

4.2 To protect and strengthen the company’s international growth and financial future, Apple will use all possible legal avenues to disclose agreements with governments, including unclassified and classified court orders, National Security Letters, dialogues and similar – so customers are confident that all steps are taken to provide transparency.

 

To begin this process, a committee shall be formed of the Board of Directors entitled “Customer Privacy Committee” lasting three years from the date of this shareholder meeting. All past and current letters, court orders and other exchanges with governments will be collected and re-evaluated by legal counsel to see if they may be publically disclosed. The results of this re-evaluation shall be reported to the Committee by June 30 2014 and two years following on that date.

 

Supporting Statement:

 

Apple’s many consumer and business products and services depend on privacy and security — that customers and users trust their data and metadata are being protected throughout Apple’s systems. Such trust is central to the company’s brand, systems and ongoing financial value All US and foreign persons, businesses and governments expect, value and demand control over their privacy and security.

 

However, as a US corporation with US executives, Apple and its agents can be secretly compelled by legal instruments such as National Security Letters, under threat of imprisonment and other penalties, to violate this trust, its agreements with users, or allow users to be violated without fully informing them. Without transparency from Apple, millions have learned that Apple’s systems’ data and metadata are not secure, amid bulk surveillance programs from NSA and GCHQ in programs such as PRISM.

 

Diminished trust inevitably slows the adoption of core Apple data services like iCloud and product features like Touch ID, for example. Specifically, users have no way to know which vows about Touch ID data made by Apple today may be reversed in the enforcement of a secret court order or National Security Letter tomorrow.

 

Failing to acknowledge and address these realities can cause the company serious ongoing financial harm, particularly in international markets. By addressing these issues forthrightly Apple can win back the trust of customers, provide leadership, offer competitive advantages, and strengthen the entire industry — as Apple has done before.