For the first time, Apple has released the number of requests from governments to remove apps from its App Store.
In its latest Transparency Report on Tuesday, the technology giant announced that it had received 80 requests from 11 countries to remove 634 apps from the localized app stores on July 1 and December 31, 2018.
Apple listed the removed apps not on, but noted in most cases, why the apps were retrieved. China made the bulk of the claims and attempted to remove 517 apps allegedly violating gambling and pornography laws. Vietnam and Austria also called for the abolition of several apps that violated gambling laws, while Kuwait told Apple to remove some apps that violated privacy laws.
Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Lebanon were among the countries that requested the abolition of some apps, along with the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland.
The move is more than a year after the company promised to publish the numbers starting with this latest transparency report.
Apple Announces Transparency in the Future report ̵
National Security Letters (NSLs) are controversial subpoenas issued by the FBI without judicial control and often with a gag command that prevents the company from disclosing their subpoenas existence. Since the introduction of the Freedom Act in 2015, the FBI has been required to periodically review and override the gag orders when it is no longer considered necessary.
Apple first announced that it had received an NSL in 2017, but never published the document. In its most recent Transparency Report, the company finally published the letter – along with four others from 2018, which lifted the gag regulation in April and May 2019.
As the remainder of the report shows, most of the government's claims fell in the six-month period compared to the previous reporting period.
Apple said it had received 29,183 government claims – nearly 10 percent down on the previous period – for accessing 213,737 devices in the second half of last year.
With 12,343 requests for 19,380 units, Germany has made the most legal requirements for the six-month period ending in December 2018. Apple said the large number of inquiries was primarily due to the investigation of stolen equipment by the police.
The US ranked second with 4,680 requests for 19,318 devices.
Apple also received 4,875 requests for account information, such as information stored on iCloud – an increase of 16 percent over the previous reporting period – affecting 22,503 accounts.
The technology giant also saw an increase in government requests to retain data for up to three months. Apple said it had received 1,823 requests, up 15 percent to 5,553 accounts. Law enforcement agencies tried to obtain instructions to access the data.