Apple shareholders gave Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, a standing ovation Friday during the company’s annual shareholder meeting and appeared to support the company in its running battle with the FBI.
Cook thanked the shareholders for their support particularly in the “last couple of weeks” and told them that the company is confident it is right in the dispute:
We are staunch advocates about our customers’ privacy and personal safety and we’ve been in the news about that and some of you may have questions on that. We do these things because they are the right thing to do.
Rev. Jesse Jackson of the Rainbow Push Coalition applauded the company for its stance, saying there has to be a way that supports “personal freedom and privacy and supports the needs of law enforcement and national security.” He evoked an era in U.S. history when law enforcement created an enemies list of civil rights leaders who were being monitored. What could happen if the government had even more powers to monitor people than it did then, he asked.
Cindy Cohn of the Electronic Frontier Foundation also said she supports the company and planned to file an amicus brief in support. “It’s wrong for the government to force a company or a coder” to write code that weakens security, she said. The issue is about “our safety and government overreach.”
The annual meeting Friday was attended by roughly 200 shareholders and capped quite a week for the iPhone maker.
Apple is caught in a war of words with the FBI surrounding the encryption of the iPhone used by Syed Farook, one of the San Bernardino assailants responsible for the death of 14 people in December and the serious injury of 22. The dispute even made the GOP presidential debate this week.
The company responded to a court order that the company comply with the FBI’s request.
Cook made a 30-minute appearance this week on ABC News defending the company’s stance on the controversy. In trying to make a point about how serious the situation is, Cook compared cracking the iPhone’s protections to writing the “software equivalent of cancer.”
How each side makes their case and frames the issue matters, as I have written, since the company is asking for a public discussion. So far, public opinion polls show people are roughly divided evenly in support for Apple and for the FBI.
At the annual meeting, shareholders asked about other topics such as how retail stores serve the business community and Apple’s future in China and India.
When will the new campus be finished? January 2017 “we think some people will be able to more in,” Cook said. “It’s going to be so wonderful to …get many people back in one building again….Steve spent the last couple years of his life really dedicating himself to that project. It will be the center of innovation for years to come.”
And is Apple in cars? Cook: “Remember when you were a kid and Christmas Eve it was so exciting and you weren’t sure what was going to be downstairs? It’s going to be Christmas Eve for awhile.”
Shareholders voted down a proposal asking the company to accelerate the recruitment process of senior leadership in order to make those ranks more diverse. Ninety-four percent were against, 5 percent were for the measure.
Above: Apple CEO Tim Cook. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)