Apple Dropped WikiLeaks Over Legal Concerns

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After leaving developers and users wondering why it pulled the WikiLeaks app from its App Store, Apple has offered up an explanation: The app violated developer guidelines by potentially violating local laws.

In a statement to Business Insider, an Apple spokesperson commented “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.”

Apple representatives declined to elaborate on the statement.

The WikiLeaks app for the iPhone and iPod touch gives users access to classified government documents that are being released through the wikileaks project. When the app was pulled on Tuesday, the developer, Igor Barinov, wasn’t told why the decision had been made.

Since viewing classified documents, even if they have been leaked, could be seen as a legal issue, Apple may have been distancing itself from any potential liability allowing WikiLeaks to remain on the App Store may have caused.

Apple isn’t the only company to distance itself from the wikileaks controversy. Bank of America, Mastercard, Visa and PayPal have all stopped processing transactions related to WikiLeaks, and Amazon blocked the wikileaks project from using Amazon Web Services to host the leaked documents.

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Comments

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I like the trend of Apple having to explain every controversial decision it makes. Eventually, people will figure out that Apple doesn’t have to be in the middle of any of this, and that their self-anointed referee status benefits absolutely nobody.

Alice

If someone brought you an illegal gun to sell in your store… would you?  Why not?  After all, you didn’t make the gun.  You don’t own the gun.  Why not just *SELL* the gun for the guy.

The app store is a store.  It sells things.  It can decide what it wishes to sell… or not sell.

(Wikileaks is *CLEARLY* buying illegal, stolen, classified documents.)

danR

While there may have been legitimate charity protocols for removal, the fact remains that:

‘freedom of the press belongs to thems that owns one.’

The future of the press is in the documents and apps residing in cloud-computing and company-store ownership and control, and the ‘thems’ will be Steve Jobs, Sergei Brin, Zuckerberg, Amazon, as well as networked and intercooperative banks.

And how will you get your message across if no one will sell you so much as pencil and paper? Suppose there IS no paper?

You will learn to love Big Brother.

You will be permitted to say and think the things they permit you to say and think.

Grimby

Wikileaks hasn’t been charged with any crime. Removing the app is a kneejerk reaction, and one that makes me very happy I’ve never bought an Apple product.

Guildenstern

I’ve dropped my plans to get an iPhone and iPad. I prefer not to support censorship. I’ve already closed my Amazon account.

Lee Dronick

@danR Freedom of the press is only between you and the Government, not between you and a business. If you do not like this situation exercise your 1st Amendment right and contact your Representative and Senators.

I am mixed about this Wikileaks controversy. One hand I want transparency in Government, but on the other hand I used to play in The Great Game and know what can happen when secrets are spilled. Both good and bad will come out of the leaks.

ryan46

If someone brought you an illegal gun to sell in your store? would you?  Why not?  After all, you didn?t make the gun.  You don?t own the gun.  Why not just *SELL* the gun for the guy.

Your analogy fails.
If one already legally sells guns then selling an illegal one adds no extra harm; an illegal gun is no more necessarily going to be used to murder than a legal one. The buyer decides how the gun is used, not the guns *legal* standing.
(Since you didn’t define what an illegal gun is, your point really has no point. However, my point stands regardless.)

Also, the purpose of secrets is almost always to enable one person or group to be able to have the advantage over others. Thus your point complains about harm but only harm to the advantage of your side; harm is OK if done to the ‘other’ is what is implicit in your view. (This is not a right to privacy issue.)

ryan46

@danR Freedom of the press is only between you and the Government, not between you and a business. If you do not like this situation exercise your 1st Amendment right and contact your Representative and Senators.

Doesn’t address the issue that freedom of press in the real world sense only belongs to the ones who own the presses. Freedom of speech is presently an illusion that pacifies the mass mind while allowing the powerful to effortlessly control those masses.
Consider that presently, in this land of freedom of religion, a landlord who honestly believes that homosexuality is wrong is forced to rent to them nonetheless, yet a bank is to be allowed to cut off service not because a crime has been shown, but because the banker doesn’t like the ‘morality’ real or imagined, of the customer.(Or submitted to back-room government pressure?) Did the bank cut off the NY Times or the Guardian etc who printed for profit the leaks? Would they?
Why should a business be able to try to control the content of everyones mind? That is what at bottom they are doing or at least having the power to do their best toward.
‘Terms of Service’ are always written such that an excuse can be found to ban anyone at any time the Servicer decides they don’t like a message.

Laurie Fleming

If Apple is going to be consistent, why do Apple applications still tie in with Facebook? Zuckerburg has been responsible for leaking more information than Assange ever will.

furbies

makes me very happy I?ve never bought an Apple product

So, why do you read MacObserver ? Just to be a troll ?
From my point of view: Apple is just covering it’s rear,

(Wikileaks is *CLEARLY* buying illegal, stolen, classified documents.)

no-one has proffered proof that WikiLeaks/Assange paid for the data.

I think it’s mostly a case of a Government not liking that spotlight being pointed at it. There’s no doubt that Wikileaks must purge any/all names that could place people in danger before publication, but the diplomatic cables have been very much along the lines of water cooler gossip for the most part, and in the case of the cables covering Australia, some of them have been very enlightening.

Laurie Fleming

I used to play in The Great Game and know what can happen when secrets are spilled.

At least you won’t have to relive the charges of the Light and Heavy Brigades.

Lee Dronick

At least you won?t have to relive the charges of the Light and Heavy Brigades.

Don’t bring that up, I was farting all the way the Russian guns. smile

The Heavies never charged at Balaclava.

other side

Since viewing classified documents, even if they have been leaked, could be seen as a legal issue, Apple may have been distancing itself from any potential liability allowing WikiLeaks to remain on the App Store may have caused.

Look at it this way: Do any of us want Steve Jobs in front of Congress, having to explain how Apple DIDN’T aid and abet espionage against the United States?  Particularly when this information is accessible via any web browser anyway?

This is going to get extremely ugly, and AAPL shareholders should be thankful for Apple’s decision to not have anything to do with it.

chicochaz

Seems to me that the point of fact that the original documents were in fact not leaked but stolen is being overlooked. The original thief, I believe, is in prison. Doesn’t this make anyone else handling knowingly stolen goods an accessory to the original theft? In my book it does. As an APPL stockholder I say high fives to Apple for washing their hands of this mess.

Laurie Fleming

You say stolen, but that has not been proved. You say you believe the ‘thief’ is in prison - are you familiar with ‘innocent until proven guilty’? If they weren’t stolen, then the abetting is moot.

chicochaz

You say stolen, but that has not been proved. You say you believe the ?thief? is in prison - are you familiar with ?innocent until proven guilty?? If they weren?t stolen, then the abetting is moot.

Even if the question of theft is unresolved, and who did it, Apple is right to not want to be mixed up in the whole ordeal, in my view. How ever the documents got away from the government, it certainly didn’t happen with authorization so there are legal issues that can have a negative impact others who get involved. Apple should just steer clear.

sosumi

You say stolen, but that has not been proved. You say you believe the ?thief? is in prison - are you familiar with ?innocent until proven guilty?? If they weren?t stolen, then the abetting is moot.

Not YET proven you mean.

Should Manning or any other source get convicted, I would NOT want to be involved with any of their information in any way.  For Apple, it’s not worth the risk of having executives imprisoned or even the company destroyed over one stupid app.

No responsible publicly-owned company has business playing with potatoes this hot.  Apple had no choice BUT to wash their hands of this.

Laurie Fleming

So how hot are the potatoes? The majority of the cables are banal. Some are embarrassing, as much for the senders as for the subjects. No-one to my knowledge has been put “in harm’s way”. Vague assurances and emotive claims that operatives in Afghanistan could be identified and punished don’t qualify - that seems more like propaganda to me.

I agree with Apple’s phrase that apps must comply with laws. It’s the second reason that I’m not so happy with.

As far as I understand, whistle-blowers have a level of protection under (US) law. I’d be interested to know if this comes under that.

Lee Dronick

As far as I understand, whistle-blowers have a level of protection under (US) law. I?d be interested to know if this comes under that.

Pvt. Manning comes under the UCMJ, military law. and will almost certainly be tried by Court Martial. Also he didn’t blow a whistle about tainted food or something, but took military/government documents that he no authorization or right to disclose.

The majority of the cables are banal

Perhaps, but the minority of them may serious. It will take time to sift through the leaks to see what damage, if any, was done.

Vague assurances and emotive claims that operatives in Afghanistan could be identified and punished don?t qualify

Small individual items may not divulge something, but when you put several of them together they may.

ryan46

@ Sir Harry
Calling it “The Great Game” is offensive.
Why should anyone care if people get killed because of WikiLeaks? Think who would be killed? Not innocents, but people who are themselves trying to kill or aiding people who wish to and do kill.
We invaded Afghanistan. Wrongly and foolishly, but even worse, selfishly. Not because of 911 but because 911 was an excuse.
Yet, even if 911 was the reason, the US and it’s allies have killed and harmed far far out of all proportion and reason compared to the minor event of 911 (in comparison it was a minor event except to the pampered egos of too many Americans who have no idea of what real suffering is.)
Who decided that anyone has a right to keep secrets? Wouldn’t it be great if the adulterer or the person betraying his friend could pass laws declaring it a crime to expose them for what they are?

Lee Dronick

Calling it ?The Great Game? is offensive.

Never the less historically that it was it was called, it is still going on.

Laurie Fleming

Pithy. I was going to take the pith, but you did it much more elegantly. Ryan46, in my day we’d look it up in an encyclopaedia, or read the books by George MacDonald Fraser. I suggest you ask my Uncle Wikipedia.

Lee Dronick

I suggest you ask my Uncle Wikipedia.

Ask him about Josiah Harlan

What was it Santayana said about history?

Laurie Fleming

Josiah Harlan - interesting chap. Thank you!

I was going to put in Santayana’s quote in, but I was walking the dog along Kaiwharawhara Stream, in the sun; Rosie was unsuccessfully chasing ducklings and I needed to stop her.

vanax

Hi Laurie Fleming,
Assange has not leaked any documents. People must get this erroneous idea from screaming hyenas such as Rush, Beck, some Rightwinger Congressman, etc.

And Apple is simply playing it safe, having seein how hard the world’s most powerful societies have come down on Assange even though he has not even been charged and has not broken any laws, but this does not stop the US from scurrying around find some law, somewhere which to charge him. By this oppressive process, the US is putting the fear of God into companies such as Apple to prevent it from providing (material support) to terrorists which, under the US Patriot Act, authorities can say that nearly anyone as being one and define nearly any activity as support to terrorists.

Google did not seem to have conceded defeat to China: I hope that Apple does not cave in to the seditious US Patriot Act in America.

Dogbrain

I read today that the Rush Limbaugh app, just released, is a big seller on the app store. So - wait a second… Apple is censoring real, true information from Wikileaks because it makes people uncomfortable but they allow the guy who said “Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society” and “Exercise freaks ... are the ones putting stress on the health care system”,  to transmit unfounded provocative untruths by iPhone.

Like people say, Apple can curate the app store as they please, but their politics are looking reactionary to me, based on the choices they are making.

ryan46

Ah, but the fact that many would not remember a particular history or ever have heard of The Great Game in such context is only natural and completely irrelevant to the question of the offensiveness of the phrase being used here.
Masses of people being slaughtered and lives made a living hell is the reality, and the arrogance implicit in such description of reality is either simply the egotism it appears to be or a desensitizing form of gallows humor made by the ‘chess masters’ at the expense of the victims.
Surely the crime of killing people is worse than someone publishing information only. The killing will certainly continue without the information, but perhaps with it there may be a possibility that the King will be seen to be the mere Tyrant and user of pawns that he is.
Come on, it’s a complete lie that the Government is yet now already such a secure Dictatorship that it would dare to prosecute Apple over a apt that merely locates info already widely available. Yet if the Government is already so corrupted… well theres nothing to salvage is there?

Scott

If you’ve never bought an Apple product, THEN WHY ARE YOU ON A MAC WEBSITE?!!!!!!!

Wikileaks hasn?t been charged with any crime. Removing the app is a kneejerk reaction, and one that makes me very happy I?ve never bought an Apple product.

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