A Civil Rights Company?

Photo by Youssef Sarhan on Unsplash

Much has been made of Tim Cook’s advocacy on issues of privacy and gay rights. The most recent iteration of Safari that was unveiled at WWDC will incorporate techniques that hinder, though won’t entirely stop, advertisers and websites from tracking users across the Internet. And Apple continues to support and promote gay rights; the most evident manifestations of this is Apple selling pride-inspired Apple Watch bands and a matching pride-based watch facealong with company’s CEO being an openly gay man.

It’s great that Apple is supporting these issues. But it’s equally important to reflect on Apple’s less rights-promoting activities. The company operates around the world and chooses to pursue profits to the detriment of the privacy of its China-based users. It clearly has challenges — along with all other smartphone companies — in acquiring natural mineral resources that are conflict-free; the purchase of conflict minerals raises fundamental human rights issues. And the company’s ongoing efforts to minimize its taxation obligations have direct impacts on the abilities of governments to provide essential services to those who are often the worst off in society.

Each of the above examples are easily, and quickly, reduced to assertions that Apple is a public company in a capitalist society. It has obligations to shareholders and, thus, can only do so much to advance basic rights while simultaneously pursuing profits. Apple is, on some accounts, actively attempting to enhance certain rights and promote certain causes and mitigate certain harms while simultaneously acting in the interests of its shareholders.

Those are all entirely fair, and reasonable, arguments. I understand them all. But I think that we’d likely all be well advised to consider Apple’s broader activities before declaring that Apple has ‘our’ backs, on the basis that ‘our’ backs are often privileged, wealthy, and able to externalize a range of harms associated with Apple’s international activities.

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Arizona Man Winds Up Jailed, Unemployed and Homeless After Photographing Courthouse

nyxxisnite:

Raymond Michael Rodden was bored this week, so he drove to downtown Phoenix and began walking around, snapping photos of the federal courthouse and the state capitol with his iPhone.

The 33-year-old man ended up jailed, unemployed and homeless; his iPhone, iPad and Macintosh laptop confiscated as “evidence.”

All because they found it odd he was taking photos at 3 a.m.

“They told me they’re going to keep my computer because they want to see my search history,” he said Saturday evening in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime.

“They wanted to know if I belonged to any extremist groups like the national socialist movement or sovereign citizens. They wanted to know what kind of books I checked out of the library.”

However, the only charges pending against him, if you even want to call them charges, are citations that he walked into an alley – a bogus charge that applies only to motorized vehicles –  and that he neglected to change the address on his driver license after moving to Phoenix from Tucson last August.

They couldn’t even keep him jailed on the initial charge of an outdated warrant out of California because the San Obispo County Sheriff’s Office did not want to bother extraditing him from Phoenix.

“The warrant was not even valid in Arizona,” adding that it was over a probation violation for unlawful use of a vehicle, stemming from a 2001 incident in which he took his roommate’s car without permission after a heated argument.

That old roommate is still one of his best friends, allowing him to stay in his Tucson home after he was kicked out of the Phoenix home that was part of his employment.

“I was living in my boss’s house taking care of his son,” he said. “Now he thinks I’m some crazy person.”

The fact that the Phoenix police bomb squad tore his boss’s car apart searching for explosives before impounding it most likely convinced him that Rodden was not the most suitable person to care for his six-year-old son as he worked as a long-distance truck driver.

“The most radical thing I do is read Photography is Not a Crime and Cop Block,” he said.

So like most people who read those sites, he knows his rights when it comes to dealing with police.

And that is exactly why he is going through this ordeal.

It started Thursday at 3 a.m. when he was sitting at home, unable to sleep. He decided to drive to downtown in his boss’s car, which he had permission to do.

He parked the car in front of the Phoenix Police Department and began walking around downtown, which is a ghost town at that time.

This is particularly insane.