Why did Apple remove a Wikileaks app from its store?


Over the weekend, I noticed that a Wikileaks app became available in the Apple store for $1.99 a pop. Wonder how long that's gonna last, I thought. Not long! Three days. Miguel Helft in the NYT:


Apple on Tuesday confirmed that it had removed from its online store an iPhone and iPad app that let users view the content on the WikiLeaks site and follow the WikiLeaks Twitter account.

Trudy Muller, an Apple spokeswoman, said the company had removed the app "because it violated our developer guidelines." Ms. Muller added: "Apps must comply with all local laws and may not put an individual or group in harm's way."

The $1.99 WikiLeaks App was taken down on Monday after being available for just three days.

As Wired's Kevin Poulsen points out, the app kind of sucked—basically, it was the Wikileaks website, no real value-add. All the more reason to be concerned by Apple's move.

Snip from Poulsen's Wired News piece:

You don't have to agree with WikiLeaks' methods or publishing standards to recognize that what it does is a form of journalism — most clearly with its current leak. WikiLeaks has so-far published 1,824 of its 251,287 leaked diplomatic cables. Unlike the organizations' earlier mass leaks, each published cable has been hand-reviewed, and occasionally hand-redacted of some names. WikiLeaks says the review has been conducted by journalists at the newspapers that were provided embargoed access to the leak — a list that includes the Guardian, Der Spiegel and other internationally reputable news organizations.

WikiLeaks and its people haven't been charged with a crime for publishing U.S. leaks, and they'd have a strong First Amendment defense if they were. And despite concerns voiced from top officials, there has yet to be a documented instance of anyone coming to harm as a result of WikiLeaks' releases. With news and media organizations (including Wired magazine) betting heavily on iPad apps as a way to get users to pay to read magazines and newspapers, it's chilling to see Apple double down on its right to censor controversial, but lawfully published, content of indisputable news value.