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Apple removes controversial WikiLeaks software from iPhone App Store

post #1 of 129
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An iPhone application that offered access to illegally leaked classified government documents from the site WikiLeaks has been removed from the App Store by Apple.

The application "WikiLeaks App" advertised that it gave "instant access to the world's most documented leakage of top secret memos and other confidential government documents." It sold for $1.99, and was originally approved by Apple and made available for sale on the App Store on Dec. 17.

Though Apple has not formally given a reason for removing the application, it joins a number of major U.S. corporations that have attempted to stand in the way of WikiLeaks, including Amazon, which stopped hosting data on its "Web Services" business, and PayPal, which blocked funding to the organization.

Update: Apple provided a comment to Business Insider: "We removed WikiLeaks because it violated developer guidelines. An app must comply with all local laws. It may not put an individual or target group in harms way."

The application also charged $1.99 for content that is freely available on the Internet, though the creator of the software, Igor Barinov, wrote in a comment on TechCrunch that he was only keeping about 30 cents per sale.

"Main idea of semicharity is to collect 'white' money to support grey stuff," he wrote. "And from every 1.99$ - 1$ will go to @wikileaks, 0.6$ to fruits company (obligation), and last to cover development costs and to support other free internet projects (or in different way, defined by voting feature in Wikileaks App 2.0)."

It's also possible that the application's "donations" to WikiLeaks were considered in violation of Apple's own publicly published App Store Review Guidelines. The rules state that "Apps that include the ability to make donations to recognized charitable organizations must be free," and "the collection of donations must be done via a website in Safari or an SMS."

In September, Apple relaxed its App Store review policies and published its official guidelines for developers to see. The frankly written document had statements like "we don't need any more fart apps," and that it didn't want the App Store to turn into "amateur hour."
post #2 of 129
Big Brother Apple strikes again...
post #3 of 129
This is what I don't like the most about Apple. Censorship!
They have no business telling us what we're supposed to read or consume.

When will they see the light?
post #4 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by matrix07 View Post

This is what I don't like the most about Apple. Censorship!
They have no business telling us what we're supposed to read or consume.

When will they see the light?

They're not telling you what you can or can't read. They may not want to support WikiLeaks, the same way PayPal and MC don't. And they don't have to make it easy for you to read materials that were illegally obtained, much the way they don't have to have a 'pirated book' app.
post #5 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by matrix07 View Post

This is what I don't like the most about Apple. Censorship!
They have no business telling us what we're supposed to read or consume.

When will they see the light?

Fully agreed. But I don't think they ever will as they love censorship so much.
post #6 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by matrix07 View Post

This is what I don't like the most about Apple. Censorship!
They have no business telling us what we're supposed to read or consume.

When will they see the light?

Actually they do since it's their platform. They own it it's their house it's their rules. They can't however censor the Internet because they don't own it and control it. You can still go the wikileaks website if you really want to.

Apple chose not to get in the middle of this controversy. Regardless of how you feel about wikileaks or which side you're on. But it's still a no win situation for Apple because people will criticize them whether they pull the app or not. People like you obviously are criticizing Apple for censorship. And people who are against Wikileaks will criticize Apple for having Wikileaks content on the app store.
post #7 of 129
Knew Apple would do it...it was just a matter of time. Self-preservation in action!
post #8 of 129
They're taking the same stance with porn apps: controversial, may damage their brand, so pull them off the App Store.

Nothing keeping you from accessing it through Safari though... And I'm not talking just about WikiLeaks...

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post #9 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wurm5150 View Post

Apple chose not to get in the middle of this controversy. Regardless of how you feel about wikileaks or which side you're on. But it's still a no win situation for Apple because people will criticize them whether they pull the app or not. People like you obviously are criticizing Apple for censorship. And people who are against Wikileaks will criticize Apple for having Wikileaks content on the app store.

I'm not pro or against WikiLeaks. I could understand if there's a mass petition to move the app but this look like Apple just decided to move it themselves.
This kind of behavior will not end with WikiLeaks.
post #10 of 129
You guys are jumping to some terrible conclusions here.

This app is not from WikiLeaks, it is an app from a guy trying to take advantage of material that is available for free on the Internet. It would be the equivalent of someone charging for an app that gives you content from the NYT and then calling it a NYT app -- that is a clear violation of Apple's terms, and it should be.

I support WikiLeaks, but this incident is about someone capitalizing on the situation. If this app was from WikiLeaks themselves, that would be a different matter.
post #11 of 129
Everyone's running so scared of this, despite the fact that it's widely available, and newspapers publishing and re-publishing this (and being primarily responsible for the widespread dissemination of info contained in these cables) face no issues whatsoever.....

Pathetic, really.
post #12 of 129
Good for Apple. Censorship, what a laugh. Has anything good come out of any of this? You have my support on this one.
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post #13 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by TalkingNewMedia View Post

You guys are jumping to some terrible conclusions here.

This app is not from WikiLeaks, it is an app from a guy trying to take advantage of material that is available for free on the Internet. It would be the equivalent of someone charging for an app that gives you content from the NYT and then calling it a NYT app -- that is a clear violation of Apple's terms, and it should be.

I support WikiLeaks, but this incident is about someone capitalizing on the situation. If this app was from WikiLeaks themselves, that would be a different matter.

Good point. Not that Apple wouldn't.
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #14 of 129
Typical Apple.
post #15 of 129
I'd like to see someone write an App designed to access the confidential rape charge documents around Assange. Funny how his lawyers are all crying foul over those getting out in the wild.
post #16 of 129
If you wanna watch a quick documentary about WikiLeaks and be able to evaluate and come up with your own conclusions:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9xrO2Ch4Co
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post #17 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by matrix07 View Post

This is what I don't like the most about Apple. Censorship!
They have no business telling us what we're supposed to read or consume.

When will they see the light?

They don't need to "see the light." As a non-governmental company they are at liberty to do what they want with respect to this issue. You don't like it? Well, don't buy Apple products. Simple as that.
post #18 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hudson1 View Post

I'd like to see someone write an App designed to access the confidential rape charge documents around Assange. Funny how his lawyers are all crying foul over those getting out in the wild.

What's good for the goose, etc...
post #19 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by matrix07 View Post

This is what I don't like the most about Apple. Censorship!
They have no business telling us what we're supposed to read or consume.

When will they see the light?

Would you support Apple in providing an iPhone app that displayed your credit card and social security information illegally obtained by a hacker?
post #20 of 129
I usually think that cries of "censorship!" over app rejections are way overdone.

But this may be the first time I think it's a valid complaint. While Apple may have every legal right to do it, this type of censorship is not in the best interests of society.

Having said that, even if Apple didn't want to take it down, they may not have had much choice. The US government is at war with wikileaks, and the US government is no longer constrained by legal, ethical, or moral considerations when it goes to war. heck, the US government is no longer even "constrained" by enlightened self-interest. George Bush uncorked a genie that Obama can't put back in the bottle (even if he wants to, and it's not clear that he does).
post #21 of 129
Can the ignoramuses crying "Censorship!" please read up on what the word means before throwing it around?
post #22 of 129
I take the Libertarian viewpoint that only the government can truly censor information. A private company can choose to publish something or not, but they can't physically restrain you from going elsewhere to get it, which the government can.

As for Wikileaks itself, I think it's quite shameful what they're doing. It's one thing to blow the whistle on a corrupt CEO or bribe taking politician, but this is nothing to do with that. This is releasing national security information, which does not (as far as I have seen) indiciate any corruption, it just puts people at risk.
post #23 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by tundraboy View Post

Can the ignoramuses crying "Censorship!" please read up on what the word means before throwing it around?

Highly unlikely. An ignoramus is more likely to jump to a reactionary conclusion than read about anything.
post #24 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


Though Apple has not formally given a reason for removing the application, it joins a number of major U.S. corporations



Nice to see that Apple has finally admitted that it is part of Big Brother. Their denials were getting increasingly disingenuous.
post #25 of 129
Apple screwing up. They are behaving like big brother now. Next thing you know they will cut off the NY Times app because its posting the wiki links stuff to it's app.
post #26 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by TalkingNewMedia View Post

You guys are jumping to some terrible conclusions here.

This app is not from WikiLeaks, it is an app from a guy trying to take advantage of material that is available for free on the Internet. It would be the equivalent of someone charging for an app that gives you content from the NYT and then calling it a NYT app -- that is a clear violation of Apple's terms, and it should be.

I support WikiLeaks, but this incident is about someone capitalizing on the situation. If this app was from WikiLeaks themselves, that would be a different matter.

Excellent point. Many people just love to jump down Apple's throat at the slightest opportunity without even thinking first.
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post #27 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by tundraboy View Post

Can the ignoramuses crying "Censorship!" please read up on what the word means before throwing it around?

Most of the IGNORAMUS here are new Internet generation young thundercats who's never handled classified materials, never gone to war, don't know jack about reality, and think everything should be out on the open. The only way that people can go on with their happy lives is that they do not know about certain things that'll jeopardize security. We don't live in a perfect world full of perfect people.
post #28 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hudson1 View Post

I'd like to see someone write an App designed to access the confidential rape charge documents around Assange. Funny how his lawyers are all crying foul over those getting out in the wild.

Surely, you must know that there are some pretty important differences between an individual and the state.
post #29 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yosh01 View Post

Would you support Apple in providing an iPhone app that displayed your credit card and social security information illegally obtained by a hacker?

Great post. Reminds me of the hypothetical but funny question asked of those outraged at airport searches and screening ... 'here is an alternate plane where we search and screen nothing, want to board now?'
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
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Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
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post #30 of 129
Why don't we all just fire up Safari and go the Wikileaks site or their Twitter account and we can all stop bitching about this whole thing.
post #31 of 129
It's really appalling that most Americans don't understand that the first amendment is in regards to government, not business. Businesses are under no obligation to publish anything. If apple or amazon block wikileaks, someone else can publish the info and the citizen still has access. If the government, otoh, silences publishers, then we have censorship. Civics classes anyone?
post #32 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by TalkingNewMedia View Post

This app is not from WikiLeaks, it is an app from a guy trying to take advantage of material that is available for free on the Internet. It would be the equivalent of someone charging for an app that gives you content from the NYT and then calling it a NYT app -- that is a clear violation of Apple's terms, and it should be.

Serious question: What 'terms' of Apple would it violate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Good point.

Why?
post #33 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Surely, you must know that there are some pretty important differences between an individual and the state.

Of course I do. Likewise, I'm sure that you understand that this whole WikiLeaks exercise has put many individuals at needless risk, not to mention the extra (though clearly not quantifiable) risk that the rest of us now must bear because of things that should have been left as secret no longer are.
post #34 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wurm5150 View Post

Most of the IGNORAMUS here are new Internet generation young thundercats who's never handled classified materials, never gone to war, don't know jack about reality, and think everything should be out on the open. The only way that people can go on with their happy lives is that they do not know about certain things that'll jeopardize security. We don't live in a perfect world full of perfect people.

You should not be so judgmental: that would be like my telling you that you are perhaps part of a has-been generation.

We all know that time and time again, what passes off for 'classified,' what constitutes justification for 'war' (I am not referring to any particular war here), what constitutes 'reality,' what constitutes 'security,' and so forth are equally screwed-up.

Fwiw, I am closer to the has-been group than the 'new internet generation.'
post #35 of 129
I'm no lawyer, but it seems to me that there may be more at stake here than a company making a decision on what content they WISH to make available. It is illegal, from my understanding, for anyone in the US to read classified documents without the proper clearance. So, if Apple is providing a portal for people to do this, yet can make no claim to protections afforded the press, can they be held liable?

Before anyone flames, I'm not saying anything about whether I support wikileaks, a government's freedom to classify information, or anything else. Just asking....
post #36 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hudson1 View Post

Of course I do. Likewise, I'm sure that you understand that this whole WikiLeaks exercise has put many individuals at needless risk, not to mention the extra (though clearly not quantifiable) risk that the rest of us now must bear because of things that should have been left as secret no longer are.

I truly sympathize, and realize there are no easy answers here, but perhaps it's just lousy record-keeping on the part the state too that is responsible.

Stuff like this is bound to get out. If it wasn't Wikileaks, it might be someone else, somewhere else.

At the end of the day, I happen to be of the camp that what has been revealed so far makes the US look remarkably consistent, on average: its public and private positions are pretty congruent, compared to a lot of other regimes that I can think of. Pretty remarkable and honest, actually.
post #37 of 129
Love OS X and can't think of a better operating system. No complaints in what's coming close to 9 years of use.

Stuff like this though? Makes me want to just move to Ubuntu. Been using it on my netbook for sometime and it's shaped up nicely . . .
post #38 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by bedouin View Post

Love OS X and can't think of a better operating system. No complaints in what's coming close to 9 years of use.

Stuff like this though? Makes me want to just move to Ubuntu. Been using it on my netbook for sometime and it's shaped up nicely . . .

No one is stopping you
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post #39 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by TalkingNewMedia View Post

You guys are jumping to some terrible conclusions here.

This app is not from WikiLeaks, it is an app from a guy trying to take advantage of material that is available for free on the Internet. It would be the equivalent of someone charging for an app that gives you content from the NYT and then calling it a NYT app -- that is a clear violation of Apple's terms, and it should be.

I support WikiLeaks, but this incident is about someone capitalizing on the situation. If this app was from WikiLeaks themselves, that would be a different matter.

Good point. Nice to see someone taking a step back to understand the situation before jumping in.

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post #40 of 129
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