Apple vs. WikiLeaks

Apple removed an app from its online store that allowed users to view WikiLeaks content. Was it censorship, or is Apple just trying to stop customers from being ripped off?

The WikiLeaks iPhone app offered users the "daily trickle" of once-secret diplomatic cables from the pro-transparency activist site.
(Image credit: CC BY: Beth Kanter)

Apple has removed an iPhone and iPad app that allowed users to view leaked diplomatic cables and other content from the WikiLeaks site. The $1.99 app was taken down on Monday with little fanfare, but Apple's move was noted and publicized by tech blogs. An Apple spokesperson eventually said the app violated the company's developer guidelines, but some are accusing the company of censorship. In recent weeks, companies including Amazon, PayPal, Visa and Mastercard have all started denying services to WikiLeaks. Why did Apple remove the WikiLeaks apps? (Watch a Fox Business report about Apple's move)

Censorship, pure and simple: Apple has never been one to "tolerate much controversial content in its precious app store," says Andy Greenberg in Forbes, so it's no surprise that this app has been banned. It looks like WikiLeaks is becoming a "free speech litmus test" — and it's already shown "just how little the likes of Apple" care about the First Amendment.

"Apple nixes WikiLeaks iPhone app. Will Google follow?"

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It's true: The app violated Apple's rules: It wasn't the "controversial information" on the app that caused it to be banned, says Audrey Watters at ReadWriteWeb. The app's developer was simply charging money for content that is otherwise free — an act that "runs afoul of Apple's developer guidelines." It had no choice but to act as it did.

"WikiLeaks app yanked from App Store"

There are other WikiLeaks apps out there: For those disappointed by Apple's move, there are other options, says Nicholas Jackson in The Atlantic. Truthseeker is a "free iPhone application that aggregates news, podcasts, and more from alternative sources" — one of which "just happens to be WikiLeaks." And Android phone users — "apparently a more transparency-friendly bunch" — have at least six WikiLeaks apps available to them.

"Apple blocked the WikiLeaks app, but Truthseeker is still available"

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