Apple Shares Government App Store Takedown Requests in Latest Transparency Report

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.

Top Rated Comments

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16 months ago

Someone read the non disclosures and report back

"I'm not gonna read 'em, YOU read 'em."
"No, I'm not gonna read 'em, YOU read 'em."
"I know, let's get Mikey, he'll read anything."
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
16 months ago

Year ago requested Apple to remove an app ('https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/deen-e-islam/id1079308257') 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 ('https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/deen-e-islam/id1079308257') 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.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
16 months ago

Year ago requested Apple to remove an app ('https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/deen-e-islam/id1079308257') 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 ('https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/deen-e-islam/id1079308257') 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!
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
16 months ago
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.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
16 months ago

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.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
16 months ago

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.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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