updated 01:55 pm EST, Tue December 21, 2010
Raises censorship concerns
An Apple spokesperson has provided a brief explanation of why an unofficial Wikileaks app was pulled from the App Store. "We removed WikiLeaks because it violated developer guidelines," the representative says. "An app must comply with all local laws. It may not put an individual or target group in harms way."
Apple has declined to say which groups or individuals might be "in harms way." The claim likely refers to the belief in some political quarters that recent Wikileaks documents are putting Americans and the US government at risk, having recently exposed activities like spying at the United Nations or false-flag bombing in Yemen. Some American politicians, like senator Dianne Feinstein, have accused Wikileaks and its editor -- Julian Assange -- of breaking espionage laws.
The takedown once again raises the problem of political censorship at the App Store. Apple has drawn fire for blocking or removing political apps in the past, such as a Republican candidate's campaign app, or even a title which simply featured editorial cartoons. Another app promoting the anti-gay Manhattan Declaration was recently pulled following a petition. Although the App Store is a private business, its industry dominance may have larger ramifications for political speech.