Apple yanks unofficial Wikileaks app

Dec 21, 2010
Tech

Just last week, following all the controversy stirred up by Wikileaks making public diplomatic cables between the U.S. and other countries, an unofficial app for the nonprofit media freedom site appeared in the iOS store for $1.99. And just as quickly, and with as little fanfare, Apple has made the little app disappear. Wikileaks App […]

Just last week, following all the controversy stirred up by Wikileaks making public diplomatic cables between the U.S. and other countries, an unofficial app for the nonprofit media freedom site appeared in the iOS store for $1.99.

And just as quickly, and with as little fanfare, Apple has made the little app disappear. Wikileaks App has been removed from the App Store, although we still have a copy of its description here.

As a writer over at TechCrunch pointed out, the app was selling what Wikileaks provides for free, although it did do you the favor of aggregating it into one place. The app featured access to wikileaks.org, the site that publishes leaked government information for the benefit of public knowledge. It also pulled in updates from the Wikileaks Twitter account, as well as any updates from other people using the #wikileaks topic tag.

It’s not exactly clear why the app was pulled, and it seems no one has been able to get a comment out of Apple (AAPL) just yet. The nature of the app — charging two dollars to get to something that is made available for free by Wikileaks on the moral principle that it should be — might have been enough for Apple to knock it out of the App Store.

Or, Apple might have pulled the app because of all the controversy surrounding the site as late. Wikileaks.org suffered some serious web hosting and hacking attacks earlier this month, and finally secured hosting in Sweden after being dropped by Amazon and others here in the U.S.

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Also eager to cut ties with Wikileaks were companies like Mastercard (MA), Visa (V), PayPal and Bank of America (BAC), and stories about Amazon’s (AMZN) dropping Wikileaks’ web hosting account blame political pressure from the U.S. as the major reason behind it. It wouldn’t be surprising if Apple was doing its best to dodge a bullet before it’s fired, sidestepping any controversy early.

As with all good conspiracy theories, we’ll likely never know the truth — unless Apple decides to tell us. That doesn’t seem too likely, however, regardless of the company’s stance.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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