Yesterday, Apple released information about the number of requests that it has received to remove apps from the App Store. In a new transparency report, which is the first that it has ever published, the firm revealed that it received 80 requests from 11 different countries for the removal of no less than 634 apps from local app stores last year.
Apple didn’t mention the names of the apps involved but did give the reasons why they were removed. Most of these requests came from China, which wanted 517 apps removed because they violated its pornography and gambling laws. Austria and Vietnam also wanted apps removed that breached their gambling legislation, while Kuwait requested the removal of some apps that violated its privacy laws.
Other countries on the list include Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Norway, Turkey, the Netherlands and Lebanon. Yesterday’s report comes more than a year after Apple promised to release this information in a future transparency report.
The company promised that next year, it will publish information about the appeals that it received in response to government requests for app removals from its localised app stores.
Having been granted permission, Apple also published a number of national security letters (NSLs) for the first time. NSLs are highly contentious FBI subpoenas that are issued without any judicial oversight, and often include a gag order that prevents the firm from revealing that such an order exists. Since the Freedom Act was passed in 2015, the FBI has to review these gag orders from time to time and repeal them if they are no longer needed.
Apple first publicly acknowledged that it received an NSL in 2017, but it only published its contents in the latest transparency report, as well as four others from last year that were only lifted in April and May this year.