After three days on the App Store, Apple removed an application for the iPhone and iPod Touch that gave users access to the classified cables released by WikiLeaks claiming it violated developer guidelines.
Apple joins the growing list of U.S. companies that have
cut ties with WikiLeaks in recent weeks by removing an application from its
online app store. The app gave users access to the documents posted on the
"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 harm's way," Apple said in a statement.
The WikiLeaks app for the iPhone and iPod Touch is an
unofficial app and was not developed by anyone working for the controversial
site. Along with giving users the ability to search through the leaked cables,
users can get live updates from the site's Twitter feed and donate to the
organization. The app also forwarded
users to WikiLeaks mirrors.
As Wired noted, the app didn't do anything more than what
was already possible using the Safari mobile browser.
The developer, Igor Barinov, posted on Twitter that the
app was submitted to Apple on Dec. 11. It appeared in the store on Dec. 17. A
mere three days later, Apple removed it from the store without telling Barinov
why, he posted.
According to Barinov's feed, there were 4,444 downloads,
primarily from Germany and the United States, and made $5,840. The Netherlands,
United Kingdom, and Italy rounded out the top five countries by downloads.
Barinov had said he would donate $1 for each download to
WikiLeaks. He also posted a screenshot showing that the app had been downloaded
nine more times the day after Apple said it was removed.
The Android version of Barinov's app is still available.
In fact, there are a number of other WikiLeaks applications available for
Android users ranging from free to paid. While some just alert users when new
documents are posted, others give direct access to the documents.
According to the Guardian,
there is still a way to get the iPhone app, but that it "borders on the edge of
According to Barinov's feed, he is considering
resubmitting it as a free app or tweaking it to get it re-approved into Apple's
As of now, there have been no documented instances of
anyone coming to harm as a result of WikiLeak's releases. As to whether Apple
would pull an issue of The New York Times, which has an iPad app, if it
published WikiLeaks documents, Apple declined to comment.
Anonymous posted on its Twitter account, "Please people,
open eyes. This is censorship, it has no other name."
In past weeks, several U.S. companies, including
Amazon.com, Bank of America, PayPal and EveryDNS, have withdrawn services for
WikiLeaks citing various violations of the Terms of Service, ranging from
distributing content they didn't own to causing harm. While government
officials have made no secret of wanting to see the site isolated and shut
down, it has denied applying overt pressure on any of the corporations. The
site's supporters have engaged in retaliatory tactics, such as distributed
denial of service attacks and boycotts, against these companies as a result.