Apple Pulls WikiLeaks App from App Store

| News

Apple has quietly pulled the WikiLeaks app for the iPhone from its App Store and apparently hasn’t offered up any reason why it chose to dump the app. WikiLeaks gave users access to the secret government documents being released the controversial wikileaks project.

TechCrunch reported that the WikiLeaks developer, Igor Barinov, broke the news on Twitter that his app was pulled from the App Store on Tuesday. The app first appeared on Apple’s iOS app distribution service on December 17.

No WikiLeaks on the App Store

Assuming Apple shut down the WikiLeaks app because it offered access to leaked secret government documents, the company wouldn’t be alone. Bank of America, Mastercard, Paypal, Visa and Amazon have all been blocking access to wikileaks-related content in various ways this month, and could potentially be joined by other companies soon, too.

Apple hasn’t commented on why it blocked WikiLeaks from the App Store.

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Comments

MyRightEye

OK, this censorship is getting a little out of hand.

skipaq

It was likely pulled for violating rules governing donations according to other sites.

GrahamExton

Boo! Hiss!

rezonate

The fact that classified documents become compromised does not itself change their level of classification. So, if you access classified documents (from Wikileaks, for example) using an unauthorized system, that system becomes subject to the jurisdiction of the classifying authority. This is why I never bothered to ever LOOK for the supposed “leaked” documents. I’d hate for the NSA to confiscate my equipment so they could remove cache traces of classified material! Apple is probably concerned with the same thing - can you imagine them being required to take down their server farm while the NSA performed a complete wipe of everything “just in case”?

CNN Article
Executive order about classifications

Laurie Fleming

This move I do object to. But it’s no big thing. Assange himself would appear to be a complete dickhead, but the so-called secrets give an insight into so-called diplomacy. None of the cables leaked so far have had anything other than embarrassing pieces of information, and often fallacies and falsehoods - NZ apparently is a den of pickpockets and scammers. “Who knew?” apparently is the phrase - certainly not the NZ Police, who tend to keep an eye on such things.

But whether they’re classified or not, they are now in the public domain. The genie is out of the clich?. Apple may have done this on legal advice, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this app or similar back again.

In the meantime: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2010/nov/28/us-embassy-cables-wikileaks (sorry, it’s Flash, for those who don’t believe in such things)

Lee Dronick

So, if you access classified documents (from Wikileaks, for example) using an unauthorized system, that system becomes subject to the jurisdiction of the classifying authority.

Exactly!

Nemo

Well, Apple may have removed the Wikileaks App pursuant to its guidelines.  Two, in particular, come to mind:  As mentioned, supra, Apple does not permit apps that provide donations; Apple may also have concluded that since the Wikileaks material is freely available, it violated Apple’s rule that apps which don’t offer value will be removed.

However, if Apple doesn’t or wouldn’t permit even free Wikileaks apps on the App Store, that would raise the question of why Apple is banning Wikileaks.  There might be good reasons, see supra, for banning this Wikileaks App or generally banning Wikileaks apps.  But it would be nice to hear from Apple why it removed this particular Wikileaks App from the App Store.

MyRightEye

Yes, looks like I might have been too quick to judge.

geoduck

IMO there has likely been a good deal of back channel pressure brought to bear on Apple (and BoA,and PayPal, and Visa and on and on) to block WikiLeaks. Financial institutions were first and now we’re seeing pressure on the outlets. Nothing overt. No letters from the DOJ or anything like that. Just a lawyer in the Government who knows a lawyer in Apple. One off the record phone call on a weekend to let them know that “we’re starting to investigate the next tier and so you might not want to be doing business with these guys any more.” Clean, off the record, and below the radar.

Nemo

Being in the public domain, as a legal concept, is not the same thing as being publicly available.  Classified documents that the U.S. government does not duly authorize to be disclosed are still classified and are not necessarily in the public domain. 

The press, however, may be able to publish, as news, classified documents that have become public.  In publishing classified document, the press relies on prerogatives that may not be generally available.  First, the press can rely on the First Amendment rights that we all have to speak, though that right does not of itself trumps the laws governing disclosure of classified documents.  The press also benefits from a body of case law from the famous Pentagon Papers case.  The press would argue that the toothpaste is out of the tube so the laws on classified documents fail of their purpose.  And the mainline media, the NYT and its cohort, would argue that rather than disclosing the classified documents or abetting the disclosure of classified documents, they are merely reporting on that disclosure.  It is a fine line, but will probably do for the press.  However, others, such as Apple, and depending on the facts, may not enjoy the press’ privileges or other legal protections.

And no: this disclosure is not merely trivial gossip, though that is the line that our State Department is going with.  Aside from making diplomacy very difficult, because others think that we can’t keep their secrets, a lot of the the information disclosed by Wikileaks, even the seemingly innocuous gossip, will reveal sources and methods, causing those sources and method to be compromised and neutralized, and where those sources are people, that quiet likely will in several, if not many, instances mean death or imprisonment.  Thus, this is both an intelligence and diplomatic disaster for the U.S. 

So Mr. Assange will most likely quiet literally have blood on his hands, the blood of some people who acted as U.S. agents or who acted in the interests of the U.S, which could put a damper on the U.S. intelligence community’s future recruiting of at least foreign agents.

MyRightEye

OK…

Apple said: “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.”

So I guess I WASN’T too quick to judge.

Pretty pissed right about now.

Nemo

Well, asking Apple to place itself in legal jeopardy and/or risk having innocent blood on its hands for an app, here the Wikileaks App, is, is it not, going beyond what one can reasonably ask Apple to do?  And, as I said, supra, the Wikileaks app may indeed have violated Apple’s Guidelines for the App Store, and those particular Guidelines appear to be reasonable measures to prevent fraud on the App Store.

Lancashire-Witch

@ geoduck.  It may be that senior people in the financial institutions are a little worried about what Wikileaks will reveal about them.  Just maybe. So I wonder who is pressuring who.

geoduck

Well, asking Apple to place itself in legal jeopardy

That’s why I don’t blame Apple. Their business is to make money not to get in legal hot water. It may be cowardly on some level but not surprising.

It may be that senior people in the financial institutions are a little worried about what Wikileaks will reveal about them.

I seem to remember reading that WikiLeaks has said that their next batch of documents is related to dealings between banks and governments. Their concern may not be misplaced.

dhp

So Mr. Assange will most likely quiet literally have blood on his hands

Well, no, not literally.

MyRightEye

“So Mr. Assange will most likely quiet literally have blood on his hands”

Really? I didn’t know he was signing up to be a soldier!

Lee Dronick

So Mr. Assange will most likely quiet literally have blood on his hands

Well, no, not literally.

In all seriousness he could have his own blood on his hands. Now that he talking about leaking banking and finance secrets he could be target for assassination. I hope that it doesn’t happen, but I consider it a possibility.

geoduck

he could be target for assassination.

The biggest issue is that Mr. Assange has become the story not the documents. I believe that’s why one of the other people that set up WikiLeaks has split off to set up OpenLeaks.

http://www.openleaks.org/

http://techpresident.com/blog-entry/wikileaks-openleaks-knight-news-challenge

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Reason #32768 why you should want your iOS platform to allow side loading of apps from other sources.

Lee Dronick

The biggest issue is that Mr. Assange has become the story not the documents. I believe that?s why one of the other people that set up WikiLeaks has split off to set up OpenLeaks.

True that.

Also wikileaks has numerous backups and would be incredibly difficult to stop.

If we think that Government is not transparent now this situation will probably make it less so. It will be like the after effects of the Walker spy scandal.

Nemo

One can be glib about the grave danger that Mr. Assange has placed others in, but there have been several very easy to follow expositions by intelligence experts that explain just how opposing counter intelligence services can use the Wikileaks’ disclosures to figure out who had to be the source of a particular leak or at least who was most likely the source of the leak, which in many countries will be more than sufficient grounds for enhanced interrogation.

Laurie Fleming

1. It’s not Julian Assange who was been doing the leaking, it’s Wikileaks the organisation. Assange is the frontman of a reasonably large group, largely volunteers.

2. History is littered with conspiracies based on truths, half-truths and outright lies, for which people have died. Millions of them. Arguably the war the US and UK initiated was based on, at best, faulty intelligence. If anyone is put at risk by these leaks who is blameless, it goes without saying that that would be regrettable. If those allegedly responsible for rapes and murders disclosed by these leaks are brought to justice and punished (or freed if appropriate, of course), then that is laudable. Because otherwise it is unlikely that will happen.

3. The security level of these leaks has been relatively low. It would appear that the risk quotient is also low, even if the embarrassment level is high.

4. Laws are like sausages. It is better not to see them being made. (Otto Von Bismarck). I’d say the same about diplomacy. But it is interesting to see what is being done on our behalf. I like to know my sausages’ ingredients.

5. If it could be shown that no-one’s life has been put at risk (even if their liberty has been restricted where they have perpetrated evil), I would like to see this application or similar back on the App Store.

Dogbrain

As I have posted elsewhere, Apple’s behavior is way out of sync with the way they try to position themselves in the market. Do you remember a few years ago when they used this text in their TV advertising?

Here?s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They?re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can?t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Assange is not fond of rules, and has no respect for the status quo, and I am convinced he is pushing the human race forward, and Steve Jobs is part of a massive effort to squash him.

I’ve used Apple products since 1982 (!) and am writing this on a MacBook Air. But in my heart I know that Apple is just another big profit maximizing corporation with no soul and no conscience, and no different from MicroSoft except that Apple has better products and a cooler CEO.

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