Some bad news coming out of the iOS app community today as Apple revealed that the iOS app Metadata+ was taken off of the Apple App Store due to “excessively crude or objectionable content.” This app delivered news to users about United States drone strikes, but on Sunday, users got a notification saying this app was no longer available within the Apple App Store, and them removing the app on Sunday is pretty telling about how the process works at Apple, leaving many people upset with the tech giant.
Dronestream, a drone-strike Twitter account is ran by the creator of the app Metadata+ and the creator, Josh Begley, said he will continue on with his work. Begley is also an editor for fairly popular news outlet The Intercept, which was one of the new outlets that is associated with former NSA employee Edward Snowden.
You might remember that just last week over 300 apps were removed because they were infected with malware thanks to a Xcode modification. Interestingly enough, it has been uncovered that this modification of Xcode was actually a tactic that the Central Intelligence Agency has used before. The news app was actually created by Begley back in 2012, but it was rejected by Apple 5 times because Apple said “it was not useful or entertaining enough” to warrant being in the App Store.
At that point, an Apple Review Team member told Begley if he focused on the United States drone strikes, that it would never be approved, which then led to Begley removing all mentions of drone strikes in order to get approved to be in the Apple App Store. Funny enough, once the drone strike information was removed, his app was approved, and that was just 7 months ago. Once he got approval then he decided to add the drone-strike information to it, since the app was already approved there was really no stopping Begley from putting that in there. The only thing Apple could do after Begley did that is exactly what they ended up doing, which was removing the app from the Apple App Store, and citing some “rule” that the app broke as a result.
The good news for Begley is that he has another app similar to Metadata+ known as Ephemeral and it offers the same types of information and news as Metadata+ did. This app though has been able to fly under the radar of Apple, at least for now, since it has really obscuring text and generic art associated with it. It is not known if Apple knows yet about this other alternative to Metadata+ although since many are now downloading that, the Apple Team will likely be reviewing that as well.
Speaking of Apple, the company is a well-known supporter of the NSA, which is the National Security Agency, and also was supportive of the spying programs going on. That information comes from the NSA whistleblower Snowden, and the many documents he leaked to show how companies like Apple were complicit with the government by enabling the spying on American citizens.
While there is not any public figures released by the government. there have been over 5,000 people killed by the US drone strikes, and that is only since 2004, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. This all ties together because the drone program was expanded in 2009, in order to gather more surveillance, both here and abroad, and it has been used to revolutionize how warfare is conducted throughout the world.
The Metadata+ app was an app where you could find out where these drone strikes were going on, which is all part of being informed as an American citizen about what the government is doing, specifically, how the new technology is aiding in government projects. Apple’s reasoning of “excessively crude or objectionable content” is nothing short of Apple simply caving because Begley added drone strikes to the app because this was more of an informational app than anything. There are thousands of “crude” apps on the Apple App Store, with many containing tons of violence or potty-humor material as the theme or premise of the app. A lot of these apps also have more users than Metadata+ did, which is rather interesting.
Metadata+ was in part a spin off and new creation birthed from the Snowden leaks mixed with working with The Intercept, meaning it was a new way to inform the public on the government’s spying and drone activities, and apparently, Apple has an issue with that. Begley promises that he will not stop just because Apple took off this app from the Apple App Store, but for now you can follow Begley on Twitter and Dronestream, which is the social media way to get your drone-strike information.