Apple removes controversial WikiLeaks software from iPhone App Store

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
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."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 128
    Big Brother Apple strikes again...
  • Reply 2 of 128
    matrix07matrix07 Posts: 1,993member
    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?
  • Reply 3 of 128
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 128
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 128
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 128
    Knew Apple would do it...it was just a matter of time. Self-preservation in action!
  • Reply 7 of 128
    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...
  • Reply 8 of 128
    matrix07matrix07 Posts: 1,993member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 128
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 128
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 128
    Good for Apple. Censorship, what a laugh. Has anything good come out of any of this? You have my support on this one.
  • Reply 12 of 128
    irelandireland Posts: 17,737member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 128
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    Typical Apple.
  • Reply 14 of 128
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 128
    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
  • Reply 16 of 128
    dbtincdbtinc Posts: 134member
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 128
    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...
  • Reply 18 of 128
    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?
  • Reply 19 of 128
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 2,353member
    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).
  • Reply 20 of 128
    tundraboytundraboy Posts: 1,744member
    Can the ignoramuses crying "Censorship!" please read up on what the word means before throwing it around?
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