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Apple under fire from activists for shooting down drone app

Petition presses Apple to allow app that maps U.S. drone strikes to be featured in company's mobile-app store. Group behind petition says map is meant to inform public about U.S. "drone wars" -- not celebrate them.

Charles Cooper Former Executive Editor / News
Charles Cooper was an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet.
Charles Cooper
2 min read
The app Drones+ uses info provided by the U.K.'s Bureau of Investigative Journalism to map the locations where U.S. drone strikes have occurred. Josh Begley/RootsAction.

An activist group has organized an online petition to press Apple to stop blocking Drones+, an iPhone app that maps locations where U.S. drone strikes have occurred.

Apple had earlier described the app as "objectionable" and "not in compliance with the app store review guidelines." Apple's rules govern what apps can and can't contain in order to be made available in its proprietary App Store.

"Drones+ is an application that shows no depictions of the carnage of war and reveals no secret information. It simply adds a location to a map every time a drone strike is reported in the media and added to a database maintained by the U.K.'s Bureau of Investigative Journalism," according to a statement put out by Roots Action, which is run by the left-leaning Action for a Progressive Future.

"Drone wars continue because the U.S. public is unaware what is being done in our name with our money. We are interested in knowing where our government is using drones and has killed people, not in celebrating that killing," according to the statement.

We've contacted Apple for comment and will update the post when there's more information.

The saga began this summer when the app's creator, New York University graduate student Josh Begley, went public with the news. Drones+ offers updated data about drone strikes based on information supplied by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

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Apple has never made the guidelines for its mobile-application store publicly available, but a copy that got posted online offers a glimpse into the company's thinking when it comes to accepting or rejecting proposed third-party apps.

"We will reject Apps for any content or behavior that we believe is over the line," according to the text. "What line, you ask? Well, as a Supreme Court Justice once said, "I'll know it when I see it." And we think that you will also know it when you cross it."