Apple has reportedly pledged to improve disclosures about the reasons it removes certain apps from its App Store, following claims that the tech giant’s secretive decision-making process endangers free expression in countries such as China and Russia. Activist investors procured the pledge from Apple earlier this month, according to reports. Almost a third of shareholders endorsed a resolution requesting more transparency in the company’s interactions with foreign governments at its annual meeting in March last year. The call for increased transparency comes in the wake of the removal of numerous apps from the App Store in countries such as China and Russia.
According to a report by the Financial Times, petitioners led by Azzad Asset Management, a faith-based US investment firm, and British activist investment company Tulipshare had asked Apple to explain why some apps were removed from the App Store after certain Bible and Quran study tools were banned from China in late 2021 without any explanations.
The Cupertino company will now disclose how many apps each country has requested be omitted from the App Store, as well as if these requests are centred on legal violations and whether Apple has agreed to them. The company will also notify its investors about how many apps were removed in each country for breaching App Store guidelines. Apple’s Transparency Report will reveal this information, as per the report.
It is worth noting that Apple has previously removed applications based on government requests. China’s App Store does not include encrypted messaging apps or several social media apps, while several apps and games are also banned on the App Store in India, including PUBG Mobile and Garena Free Fire. The firm is yet to issue a statement about the claims made in the report.
In order to adhere to local regulations, 30,000 apps were also taken down from the Chinese App Store in 2020. As has been reported previously, Apple also removed several major apps from the App Store for users in Russia last year. In the first six months of 2021, China cited 34 legal violations and requested the removal of 89 apps and based on the most recent report, Apple was not opposed to any of those requests, according to the FT report.
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