It’s been a busy February for Apple, and things won’t be slowing down on Friday.
The iPhone maker is slated to hold its Annual Shareholder Meeting on Friday at noon. The meeting, which will be held at Apple (AAPL) headquarters in Cupertino, will deliver many of the same items shareholders have come to expect from previous Apple events, including the re-election of directors to the board and choosing an auditor. But it’s what else is going on in the iPhone maker’s world that might be on shareholder minds.
Over the last two weeks, Apple has been battling with the FBI over whether it should provide software to the law enforcement agency to access the iPhone used by San Bernardino attacker Syed Farook. While Apple was ordered by a magistrate judge to provide that software, the company has not complied, and in an open letter, email to employees, and an interview with ABC News, Apple CEO Tim Cook has said he won’t budge. He claims that he’s working to protect the privacy of all Americans.
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FBI Director James Comey has sought to clarify his argument, saying that his agency isn’t seeking access to everyone’s phones, but rather a single iPhone. However, in a hearing with the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday, Comey acknowledged that finding the proper balance between privacy and security is difficult. He also acknowledged that his agency could seek access to iPhones in the future in the event a similar case arises.
Apple is expected to file its own motion with the court on Friday rejecting its request on the grounds of First Amendment rights, among other statues. Cook has said that he would be willing to fight the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, but hopes that won’t be necessary and instead, that a commission will be formed between the private and public sector to find a suitable resolution.
According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) this week, Cook will be in attendance at the shareholders meeting. The docket currently does not say whether Cook will discuss Apple’s battle with the FBI, but it’s hard to believe he won’t at least bring it up in his remarks to shareholders.
Cook spoke at last year’s shareholder meeting, but focused his time on Apple’s “unbelievable” 2014 and its many popular products.
While the business part of the Apple shareholder meeting lasted a grand total of 21 minutes last year, this year’s event may be a bit more contentious.
In its SEC filing, Apple recommended that shareholders vote for the standard fare, including re-electing directors to the board, including former Vice President of the U.S. Al Gore, and approving Apple’s 2014 employee stock plan. However, shareholders have added four other proposals to the docket that Apple says shareholders should vote against:
- The first proposal requests that Apple submit a report to shareholders by June 30 explaining how it can “reach a net-zero greenhouse gas emission status” for both its own facilities and those of its suppliers by 2030. Apple argues it’s already working to make “the best products for the world.” The proposal, the company says, would require Apple to create a report that is “largely duplicative” to what it’s already done, and it would rather spend its time working on carbon emissions than issuing such a proposal.
- Next up, a shareholder has requested Apple “increase the diversity of senior management and its board of directors.” In its response, Apple says that it’s already “promoting diversity’ within its operation. The company believes the proposal is “not necessary because Apple has demonstrated to shareholders its commitment to inclusion and diversity, which are core values for our company.”
- Proposal 7 on the docket asks Apple to issue a report on how it would not do business in “high-risk regions” where “human rights violations” may be occurring, including Iran. Apple says the report wouldn’t be “a productive use of company resources,” adding that the iPhone maker has already shown its “commitment to protecting and promoting human rights.”
- The final shareholder proposal requests Apple create a “proxy access bylaw” related to nominating board members. Apple asks shareholders to vote against the proposal because it has already “adopted proxy access for director nominations.” The company calls Proposal 8 “moot and unnecessary.”
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Despite those proposals potentially adding a bit more time to the meeting, don’t expect Apple’s event to last long. Last year’s meeting lasted a little over an hour before it was adjourned.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on what Cook will discuss at this year’s meeting.