Our open letter to Apple

Our open letter to Apple

Dear Mr Cook,

My name is Mike Tarbard, and I am the co-founder and CEO of the UK charity, Every Child Online. I am
writing to you today to highlight the impact of your company’s Activation Lock system and security policy,
specifically how it can impact the unawakened and unrecognised potential of digitally creative children and
young adults living in disadvantaged areas of the UK.
Every Child Online – Fighting Digital Poverty

Our work began during the lockdowns in 2020, when it was estimated that 1.8 million children and young
people in the UK had no access to a device or the internet at home. Today, according to the Digital Poverty
Alliance, 26% of young people do not have access to a laptop or similar device in our country. Every Child
Online’s mission has since been to help close the digital divide and improve the digital education of children
and young adults by providing them with devices to support their educational, vocational, and social needs.
Once refurbished and wiped through our professional services, they are delivered to our partnered schools,
charities, clubs, and social service departments across the country.

An Opportunity Missed

There are many individuals and companies who have generously donated their Apple products to us and
who, for a variety of genuine reasons, haven’t logged out of the iCloud account linked to the device. These
donations are classed as “bricks” due to your Activation Lock system and security policy – they are
inaccessible and unusable. Whilst my team have managed to track down many of the donors over the years
to unlock their donation and remove their iCloud account, there remain lots of “bricked” Apple devices in
our possession, which could ideally be used by a child to ignite and awaken their digital creativity. What
pains me most is that these devices are exactly what a young creative person needs to reach their potential
and they are sat in boxes benefitting no one.

I understand that your company is committed to improving digital education, particularly given Apple’s
“Everyone Can Code” curriculum. We have thousands of pounds worth of your devices that, if not for the
Activation Lock, could have helped an underprivileged child or young adult learn how to code. There is now a
risk that they will never unlock their true potential, perhaps as a Software Developer or Graphic Designer
working at your company – it is in your power to make this possible for them.

An Understandable Dilemma for Apple

After contacting the Apple Service Desk and speaking to a service engineer, followed by one of your local
Apple store personnel, to try and resolve this issue, it was clear that there was nothing they could do to help
without a receipt from the device’s original owner. I completely understand that the reason for this is to
make Apple devices worthless for criminals: they can’t access personal data, use the stolen device, or sell it
on – it’s clearly an effective security policy.

On the other side of the coin, a person who has donated their device to us may have died, simply forgot to
sign out of their iCloud account, or we have companies who have had employees leave their account on
devices handed back. This affects charities like us who want to make a difference with your products. Right
now, we have MacBooks, iMacs, iPads, and iPhones all in excellent condition sitting in our office, waiting to
be of use to inspire a child. Instead, they will end up being broken down and recycled for parts – a child or
young adult who requires our support will needlessly miss out.

Work With Every Child Online

As a nonprofit IT Asset Disposal charity, Every Child Online provides computer hard drive wiping and
destruction services, along with recycling and refurbishment solutions. I believe that we are well placed to
partner with Apple to resolve this issue. Our hope is that you allow the bricked devices we collect to be
cleared so, together, we can donate them to talented children and young adults. I can only imagine the scale
of support we will receive from the public and businesses who, like me, can’t bear to see these bricked Apple
devices get destroyed. I’m sure there are thousands of such devices sitting on shelves or in boxes across the

]Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. Please email me should you want to discuss a solution to
this unnecessary and wasteful issue.
Yours faithfully,

Mike Tarbard