Skip to content

ADF to SEC: Allow Apple shareholders to vote on transparency proposal

Letter from ADF attorneys calls on SEC to deny Apple’s request to exclude a shareholder resolution aimed at protecting free speech and providing transparency from its 2024 proxy ballot
When corporations lack viewpoint diversity and weigh in on polarizing issues, they alienate constituencies and encourage self-censorship, crushing freedom.

WASHINGTON – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys sent a letter Monday to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, calling on the agency to deny Apple’s attempt to exclude a shareholder resolution aimed at providing transparency into whether the company is curating app content in a viewpoint-neutral manner.

As the letter indicates, shareholders are worried that Apple is “‘limiting content access within its online services’ based on viewpoint and that it does so based on vague and subjective terms of use.” These problematic policies and actions are partially to blame for Apple’s dismal 8% out of a possible 100% on the 2023 Viewpoint Diversity Score Business Index. Highlighting these concerns, the American Family Association submitted a proposal calling on Apple to conduct an investigation and issue a report to shareholders.

Rather than allowing its shareholders to vote on the proposal at the 2024 annual meeting, Apple has asked permission from the SEC to exclude it from the proxy ballot. ADF attorneys are calling on the SEC to deny Apple’s request.

“Major corporations like Apple shouldn’t be hiding from shareholders who are concerned about the company’s impact on free speech, and we are hopeful that the SEC will agree,” said ADF Senior Counsel and Senior Vice President for Corporate Engagement Jeremy Tedesco. “Apple needs to rebuild trust with its shareholders and clients, but that can’t happen unless it answers basic questions about whether it is treating everyone equally regardless of their political or religious views. Apple also needs to address its policies that threaten the fundamental freedoms of its customers and implement the best practices identified by the Viewpoint Diversity Score Business Index, the premiere benchmark for measuring corporate respect for free speech and religious freedom.”

Apple’s reliance on overbroad and subjective terms of use is well-documented. In a document titled, Our Commitment to Human Rights, Apple claims to “believe in the critical importance of an open society in which information flows freely.” Unfortunately, that commitment is severely undermined by the corporation’s App Store policies. In its terms of service, for instance, the tech giant states that it “will reject apps for any content or behavior that we believe is over the line. What line, you ask? Well, as a Supreme Court Justice once said, ‘I’ll know it when it see it.’ And we think that you will also know it when you cross it.”

Similarly, in its “App Store Review Guidelines,” Apple openly warns users against including content that is “offensive, insensitive, upsetting, intended to disgust, in exceptionally poor taste, or just plain creepy.” Apple’s policy covers a wide range of content, including those promoting biblical views on marriage and sexuality. That trend also holds outside the U.S., where Apple’s censorship often caters to the whims of oppressive regimes.

During the 2023 shareholder season, the SEC denied requests from PayPal and JPMorgan Chase to deny similar shareholder resolutions after ADF attorneys and Jonathan Berry of Boyden Gray & Associates successfully petitioned the SEC to oppose the companies’ appeals.

Find out more about Viewpoint Diversity Score and the Business Index at

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

# # #

Related Profiles

Jeremy Tedesco
Jeremy Tedesco
Senior Counsel, Senior Vice President of Corporate Engagement
Jeremy Tedesco serves as senior counsel and senior vice president of communications for Alliance Defending Freedom.