Apple recently pledged to improve disclosures about the reasons behind its removal of certain apps from the App Store, following criticism that its secretive decision-making process could endanger free expression in countries like China and Russia. Activist investors secured this pledge from Apple earlier this month, with a third of shareholders backing a resolution for more transparency in the company's interactions with foreign governments at its annual meeting last March.
The demand for improved visibility was prompted by reports of numerous app removals from the App Store in countries such as China and Russia without any explanation. The Financial Times reported that petitioners led by Azzad Asset Management and British activist investment firm Tulipshare had asked Apple to explain why some apps were removed after Bible and Quran study tools were banned from China late last year.
As part of their commitment, Apple has agreed to disclose how many app requests each country has submitted, whether these requests are related to legal violations, and if they have been accepted or denied. This information will be included in Apple’s Transparency Report, which will also detail how many apps have been removed for violating App Store guidelines per country.
In addition, it is believed that further developments will be made towards improving disclosure practices on a global scale as it relates to freedom of expression protected under international human rights law. In particular special attention will be given to protecting minority voices worldwide who may not feel comfortable expressing themselves freely within oppressive regimes due to fear or other threats posed against them.
Apple’s move is an important step forward when it comes to protecting free speech around the world, and ensuring minorities can express their ideas without fear or oppression no matter where they live - but only time will tell if these changes make enough difference on a global scale moving forward into 2023 and beyond!