Apple Shares Government App Store Takedown Requests in Latest Transparency Report

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Apple today released its newest transparency report, which outlines the government data requests that the company received during the second half of 2018. The PDF can be read in its entirety on Apple's website for full details, but there are a few notable highlights worth pulling out.

As TechCrunch points out, the newest report includes a section covering the number requests its received from governments asking to have an app removed from the App Store.


Apple received a total of 80 requests from 11 countries to remove 634 apps from various App Stores in different countries. While Apple did not provide specific details on which apps it was asked to pull, requests from China made up the bulk of total takedown requests.

China asked Apple to remove 626 apps, and Apple ultimately pulled 526 of those. Apple also pulled a smaller number of apps at the request of Vietnam, Austria, Kuwait, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, and Turkey.

According to Apple, the vast majority of the apps pulled in China related to either illegal gambling or pornography. Other reasons apps were pulled in various countries include violations of privacy law, pornography, unlicensed gaming, copyright infringement, and violations of local transportation law.

Apple in the second half of 2019 received 29,183 worldwide government requests for data from 213,737 devices and provided data in 22,691 of cases (78 percent). Apple says that in the U.S., the high number of devices specified in requests for data were due to stolen device and fraud investigations. Apple has similar notices for Germany, Poland, Russia, and South Korea.

There were also a higher number of government financial identifier requests in Canada, Germany, Spain, and the U.S. due to iTunes gift card and credit card fraud investigations.

In the United States, Apple received between 3 and 499 National Security Letters (Apple is required to report a range) for between 1,505 and 1,999 accounts.

Three of the National Security Letters received are no longer subject to non-disclosure orders and have been published by Apple for the first time. Apple also published two other NSLs that were issued earlier in 2018 and in 2015. National Security Letters are issued by the FBI and Apple is forbidden from disclosing them for a set period of time.


Apple says that in its next report, it plans to begin reporting on appeals received pursuant to government requests to remove apps from the App Store. The full transparency report is available from Apple's website for those interested, along with breakdowns by country.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Article Link: Apple Shares Government App Store Takedown Requests in Latest Transparency Report
 

Crowbot

macrumors 6502a
May 29, 2018
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I skimmed the latest report (last 6 months). China, Singapore, EU and lots from the USA. Compliance rate from Apple seems to average about 60%.
 

69Mustang

macrumors 604
Jan 7, 2014
7,343
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In between a rock and a hard place
I skimmed the latest report (last 6 months). China, Singapore, EU and lots from the USA. Compliance rate from Apple seems to average about 60%.
From the article:
Apple in the second half of 2019 received 29,183 worldwide government requests for data from 213,737 devices and provided data in 22,691 of cases (78 percent).
Apple has typically provided data at an ~80% rate.
 
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rlhamil

macrumors regular
Feb 6, 2010
157
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Apple seems to be approaching the point of revealing as much as they can without getting into trouble or revealing identifying information about (possibly innocent) persons. That seems to me to reasonably balance the interests of an open society and of their shareholders (who probably don't want them getting sued).

IMO that's perhaps better than some other tech companies, but what they all ought to be aiming for.
 
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Bokito

macrumors regular
May 29, 2007
201
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The FISA-reports have a 6 month delay so I checked them for the first half of 2018 and the stats are quite shocking. Apple had to give up at least dozens of requests for each FISA order. That looks like (illegal) mass surveillance.
 

meaning-matters

macrumors 6502a
Dec 13, 2013
505
2,054
Year ago requested Apple to remove an app teaching/writing that women are subordinate to men everywhere, that a man can beat his disobedient wife, that "No wife can become lovable unless she fulfils the rights of her husband and keeps him pleased.", etc.

Didn't even get a response and app is still there.

Apple approves this message it seems.
 
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rlhamil

macrumors regular
Feb 6, 2010
157
106
The FISA-reports have a 6 month delay so I checked them for the first half of 2018 and the stats are quite shocking. Apple had to give up at least dozens of requests for each FISA order. That looks like (illegal) mass surveillance.
Probably not. It's not hard to imaging evidence sufficient for a warrant, which would cover anywhere from one to dozens of accounts, esp. including aliases, multiple devices per account, and perhaps other factors that would increase the number.

If the average had been in the hundreds or thousands or more per order, I might worry; but at that level, IMO it's plausible.

It is both understandable and civically valuable to be concerned about a (necessarily!) closed process. But even if it's not obvious, and differs from practice before other courts, there is oversight, by House and Senate intel committees, within the intel community itself, and of course by the court. The folks who collect and assemble information jigsaw puzzles know that what they do needs to be done to stop real threats, and don't want to risk damaging either "sources and methods" or having their authority to do their job restricted to the point that they're less effective. The court understands that, as well as understanding that they have to safeguard our rights. The FISA court judges are appointed for a single seven-year term from existing federal court judges, by the Chief Justice of the United States, not by the President. That gives them a unique degree of independence from direct influence. The danger of abuse (as I think history demonstrates) is greatest at the level of political appointees (primarily among consumers rather than collectors of intel) other than judges, and those working directly for them (and ultimately, at least at the "will no one rid me of this troublesome priest" level (Henry II, speaking about Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket, who was later murdered) - i.e. perhaps never said directly, by the President himself).
 

ErikGrim

macrumors 601
Jun 20, 2003
4,708
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Year ago requested Apple to remove an app teaching/writing that women are subordinate to men everywhere, that a man can beat his disobedient wife, that "No wife can become lovable unless she fulfils the rights of her husband and keeps him pleased.", etc.

Didn't even get a response and app is still there.

Apple approves this message it seems.
Appaling! Apple also seemingly approves hundreds of apps conveying these kind of messages:

"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour."
Ephesians 5: 22-23

"Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness I permit no woman to teach or have authority over a man; rather, she is to remain silent."
1 Timothy 2: 11-12

I'll be sure to report them all as I am sure you will.
 

rlhamil

macrumors regular
Feb 6, 2010
157
106
Year ago requested Apple to remove an app teaching/writing that women are subordinate to men everywhere, that a man can beat his disobedient wife, that "No wife can become lovable unless she fulfils the rights of her husband and keeps him pleased.", etc.

Didn't even get a response and app is still there.

Apple approves this message it seems.
Failure to remove something doesn't constitute endorsement or approval of all aspects of content. They probably even say as much somewhere. I find at least some such statements appalling too, but there are parts of the world where even the women would agree (or else would be afraid to publicly disagree) with such statements.

Censorship sucks. Even censorship that would be really easy to sympathize with. Take some polarizing issue, where you have a strong position on one side or the other: you wouldn't want to be censored, so you shouldn't want those on the other side censored either, even if they're obviously evil.
[doublepost=1562134183][/doublepost]
China always seems to be the 'bulk' of just about any info.
Hmm. They have the largest population of any country, not much due process, and vast surveillance and "the Great Firewall" of their own. Not to mention are willing to take reprisals for mere speech or expression. Of course they'll ask for a lot. The price of doing business there is to obey their laws where their citizens are concerned. Maybe the price is too high, you'd have to persuade the shareholders. Good luck!
 

Khedron

macrumors 68020
Sep 27, 2013
2,152
4,240
Failure to remove something doesn't constitute endorsement or approval of all aspects of content. They probably even say as much somewhere. I find at least some such statements appalling too, but there are parts of the world where even the women would agree (or else would be afraid to publicly disagree) with such statements.

Censorship sucks. Even censorship that would be really easy to sympathize with. Take some polarizing issue, where you have a strong position on one side or the other: you wouldn't want to be censored, so you shouldn't want those on the other side censored either, even if they're obviously evil.
[doublepost=1562134183][/doublepost]
Hmm. They have the largest population of any country, not much due process, and vast surveillance and "the Great Firewall" of their own. Not to mention are willing to take reprisals for mere speech or expression. Of course they'll ask for a lot. The price of doing business there is to obey their laws where their citizens are concerned. Maybe the price is too high, you'd have to persuade the shareholders. Good luck!
Apple are willing to censor users on their support forums though. If you even post that it's possible for a 3rd party repair service to help a user recover their data or restore functionality to their device you'll be immediately deleted for "questionable advice".

End of the day Apple has no better morals than the average company they just talk a big game.
 

Kabeyun

macrumors 68030
Mar 27, 2004
2,650
4,979
Eastern USA
Appaling! Apple also seemingly approves hundreds of apps conveying these kind of messages:

"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour."
Ephesians 5: 22-23

"Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness I permit no woman to teach or have authority over a man; rather, she is to remain silent."
1 Timothy 2: 11-12

I'll be sure to report them all as I am sure you will.
Hah! Well done.
 

TracesOfArsenic

macrumors 6502
Feb 22, 2018
390
465
Appaling! Apple also seemingly approves hundreds of apps conveying these kind of messages:

"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour."
Ephesians 5: 22-23

"Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness I permit no woman to teach or have authority over a man; rather, she is to remain silent."
1 Timothy 2: 11-12

I'll be sure to report them all as I am sure you will.
Oh, man. If only it were that easy to get this gibberish off the store.
 
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subjonas

macrumors 68030
Feb 10, 2014
2,634
2,376
Appaling! Apple also seemingly approves hundreds of apps conveying these kind of messages:

"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour."
Ephesians 5: 22-23

"Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness I permit no woman to teach or have authority over a man; rather, she is to remain silent."
1 Timothy 2: 11-12

I'll be sure to report them all as I am sure you will.
Hey don’t leave out verse 25: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

So it says for wives to follow their husbands but for husbands to lay down their lives for their wives, so maybe it kinda evens out. Not saying I fully understand why that’s the order of things according to the Bible, but I also can’t say I really know how things should be run. And looking at the context of that whole chapter (not just those verses), and especially looking at the context of the life and words of Jesus, which the Bible is supposed to be all about, I think maybe that was supposed to ultimately be about love, not superiority.

The second passage you excerpted is harder, admittedly. Not sure if “I” meant only the writer to those people in that particular culture (which is hard to understand for me), or if it was a general command (which is even harder for me to understand). I know “command” is a word no one likes these days except those in the military. But Jesus and even parents give commands.

Anyway, I sympathize with your frustration and anger. There’s a lot of injustice and hate in the world, a lot of it done in the name of Jesus, and for that I’m truly sorry. Just wanted to give my thoughts in regard to these verses.
 
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