SEC Rules Against Apple’s Bid to Nuke Free Speech Shareholder Proposal

Apple just lost its bid to maintain its strict anti-free speech policies for its App Store.

After Apple refused to let its shareholders vote on whether they want the company to be transparent about its app store censorship practices, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) decided to weigh in with a Jan. 2 decision. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) wrote to the SEC regarding a shareholders’ proposal to require transparency from Apple on its content moderation — i.e. censorship — of apps. While Apple attempted to prevent the proposal coming up for a vote at its shareholders meeting, the SEC ruled against Apple in an apparent win for free speech.

The Alliance Defending Freedom originally wrote to the SEC on behalf of the American Family Association in November regarding Apple’s censorship. ADF noted a goal for “Apple to investigate and report on how it is protecting the free speech and freedom of religion of its users from government interference.”

SEC ruled against Apple’s bid to exclude that proposal from its proxy materials for its 2024 Annual Shareholders Meeting. In its decision, the SEC explained that AFA’s shareholder proposal called for the board of directors to “conduct an investigation and issue a report evaluating the standards and procedures the Company uses to curate app content [i.e. censorship] on its various platforms, and procedures by which the Company manages disputes between governmental interests and user rights.” 

ADF Senior Counsel and Senior Vice President for Corporate Engagement Jeremy Tedesco told Fox Business that “‘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.’” Apple has enforced censorship of apps before, with one infamous example being its deplatforming of alternative social media app Parler.

The SEC message explained, “We are unable to concur in your view that the Company [Apple] may exclude the Proposal under Rule 14a-8(i)(10). In our view, the Company has not substantially implemented the Proposal.”

Reclaim The Net summarized Tedesco’s argument to Apple that the company should be crystal clear that it is “not using its power to discriminate against user’s speech and beliefs – irrespective of their political or even religious persuasion.” 

Conservatives are under attack. Contact your representatives and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency and an equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.

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