Demanding more transparency in apps’ removal from the App Store, Apple’s investors were able to secure a commitment from the company to provide more details about why apps were removed in its annual Transparency Report.
Currently, the tech giant only publishes the number of apps removed from the App Store in its Transparency Report for investors without” citing reasons for their removal. And that raises concerns that the tech giant acquiesces to foreign governments’ requests to remove certain apps and threatens freedom of expression in authoritarian countries like Russia and China.
App to state reasons for apps removal in its next Transparency Report for Investors
In 2021, the tech giant removed a religious ‘Quran Majeed’ app that had almost a million users from China App Store at the government’s request but continued to host apps from a blacklisted Chinese paramilitary group responsible for the Uyghur Muslims genocide in Xinjiang.
The same year, the company removed the ‘Smart Voting’ app from the Russian App Store over the government’s request. The opposition spokesperson called Apple’s ban “political censorship.”
According to Financial Times, activities investors got the tech giant to agree on providing reasons for apps’ removal in its next report at its annual meeting last March. Apple will state whether apps were taken down for legal violation, App Store rules violation, or the company’s compliance.
In the first six months of 2021, for instance, China cited 34 legal violations and asked that 89 apps be removed. Apple did not object to any of those requests, according to the most recent report.
This disclosure model leaves shareholders “in the dark” and prevents them from scrutinising Apple’s decisions, Constance Ricketts, head of shareholder activism at Tulipshare, told the Financial Times.
Furthermore, the company will publish the legal basis for removal requests by each government, along with the app category and country. It will also disclose how many apps were removed for violating App Store or developer license agreement guidelines by country.
“This information will help determine whether Apple’s decision stifles freedom of information and speech,” Ricketts said.
However, the report will not explain why individual apps were removed.