Apple Blackmailed Developers Into Blocking COVID Searches

Apple Blackmailed Developers Into Blocking COVID Searches. By Stephen Green.

Apple threatened at least one developer with banishment from the company’s lucrative App Store if they didn’t remove all search engine returns regarding COVID-19 from their library application.

LBRY bills itself as “an open, free, and fair network for digital content,” designed to circumvent social media and government controls. But the company told Twitter owner and CEO Elon Musk on Monday that, “During Covid, Apple demanded our apps filter some search terms from being returned. If we did not filter the terms, our apps would not be allowed in the store.”

That’s blackmail. …

“Secret suppression of free speech by Apple,” Musk tweeted back. “Customers were never told. What the hell is going on here?”

So far, there has been no public response from the notoriously tight-lipped company, but I can tell you what’s going on here in just two words: Communist China.

According to Apple’s latest quarterly results, the Greater China region (including the mainland, Hong Kong, and Taiwan) generated more than $15 billion in revenue over the previous three-month reporting period. That was nearly 20% of the company’s quarterly revenue. …

The iPhone/iPad app stores are fully curated. Nothing can be sold there — or remain there — without Cupertino’s approval. That “walled garden” experience has generally done a good job of keeping the App Store free of spam and scams, but not without a price.

One price is that developers complain that the approval process is opaque and subject to change at a whim. Another is that when Apple’s interests don’t align with their customers’ interests, customers lose. …

In 2019, Apple notoriously removed an app that Hong Kong protesters used to track where police were headed next to crack protesters’ skulls.

When Google started around 2000, it was one of the good guys. “Don’t do evil” they said, and meant it. But they later dropped their slogan and switched teams.

Now Apple seems to be joining them. Sad.