…but not the ones it takes down itself.
Apple has announced that it will soon start providing statistics for app takedown requests from governments around the world. The news comes in the tech giant’s latest Transparency Report that it publishes bi-annually.
The aim of the report is to highlight government demands for device and customer data. The latest one covers all such requests for the second half of 2017.
“Starting with the Transparency Report period July 1 – December 31 2018, Apple will report on Government requests to take down Apps from the App Store in instances related to alleged violations of legal and/or policy provisions,” Apple’s report declared.
The first report will cover the period from July 1st to December 31st of this year.
While this is of course good news for advocates of openness and also conspiracy theorists, it unfortunately also means that we’ll all have to wait until sometime in 2019 to see the data.
That said, the information could prove something of a unique insight into what different governments around the world are asking Apple to censor and what they demand from Apple users. Next year’s transparency report will detail specifically what countries issued app takedown requests, and vitally, which ones Apple obeyed. The list of takedown requests, Apple says, will cover alleged legal and or policy provision violations.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Apple will be providing details on specific app takedown requests.
Not that any of the above is unique to Apple. All the big names in tech have seen recent surges in government requests to obtain data, from Google, Facebook, and Twitter, to name but three. But Apple’s latest report has highlighted once again the problems facing multi-national tech companies doing business on a global scale across national and regional boundaries. This is perhaps most noticeable in countries that have restrictive censorship and limits on freedoms. The pressure on companies like Apple to either comply with government demands, or to lose market share in such place, is huge.
For instance, Apple removed 674 Virtual Private Network (VPN) apps from its iOS App Store in China last year, because it made next to impossible for Chinese authorities to monitor what their citizens were up to online, and also because it meant they could access the internet outside of the Great Firewall.
Apple will not be publishing information regarding apps it removes or blocks itself.