According to a report by The Washington Post, Apple lobbyists are currently trying to water down the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act that is in front of the senate right now.
The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act is designed to prevent the use of forced labor in China, and give U.S. authorities the freedom to prosecute companies found, directly or through their suppliers, to be exploiting imprisoned or otherwise persecuted workers (mostly Uyghur Muslims) from China’s Xinjiang region.
The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act passed 406-3 in the House of Representatives in September, much to the dismay of the apparel and clothing industry, which has been heavily implicated in the exploitation of Uyghur Muslims in China for monetary profit.
The bill specifically names companies like Coca-Cola, Patagonia, and Costco as having benefited from forced labour in China. While Apple has not been named, its lobbying firm, Fierce Government Relations, has disclosed that it is lobbying on the bill on the former’s behalf. The firm was not required to disclose whether Apple was for the bill, against it, or simply wants it adjusted.
Josh Rosenstock, an Apple spokesperson, said the tech giant “is dedicated to ensuring that everyone in our supply chain is treated with dignity and respect”. He also said that the folks at Apple “abhor forced labor and support the goals of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.”
In addition, Apple CEO Tim Cook has publicly condemned forced labour and washed Apple’s hands of any involvement, saying “Forced labor is abhorrent” in front of Congress back in July. “We would not tolerate it in Apple.”
However, two congressional staffers with firsthand knowledge of the matter, on the condition that they remain anonymous, revealed to The Washington Post that Apple (among a number of other U.S. companies) opposes the bill in its current form and is lobbying to soften some of its stricter provisions.
With Apple products previously being hacked to specifically target the Uyghur minority in China, these new reports of Apple opposing the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act bring the company’s public stance on forced labour into question.