Tech giant Apple says gambling apps featured prominently in government requests for removal from local app stores last year.
On Tuesday, Apple released its latest transparency report covering the second half of 2018, which for the first time included details on various governments requesting that the company purge certain apps from local app stores.
According to the report, Apple received 80 requests for removal of certain apps based on governments’ claims that the apps violated local laws. Of these requests, 75 resulted in the takedown of the offending apps. The total number of apps specified in these requests was 770, and 634 apps were eventually removed by Apple.
Mainland China accounted for 56 of the takedown requests and 626 of the allegedly offending apps, the “vast majority” of which Apple said related to “illegal gambling or pornography.” Only two of the takedown requests were challenged in part or rejected in full by Apple, and 55 of China’s requests resulted in the offending apps being removed.
Russia ranked second on the takedown chart with 10 requests, “all or vast majority” of which related to illegal gambling investigations. Nine of Russia’s takedown requests were ultimately granted by Apple.
Vietnam’s government made three takedown requests covering a total of 29 apps, all of which related to illegal or unlicensed gambling. But all three of Vietnam’s requests were challenged in part or rejected in full, and only one request resulted in the actual removal of the offending nine apps. Vietnam and China were the only Asia-Pacific countries to have filed takedown requests in H2 2018.
Several European Union member states – Austria, Norway and Switzerland – each submitted one takedown request apiece, all of them related to illegal gambling investigations, and all of which were granted. The Netherlands submitted two (ultimately successful) gambling-related takedown requests.
Apple has proven increasingly willing to accede to governmental requests to purge unauthorized gambling apps from local app stores. Last August, Chinese authorities claimed Apple had removed a couple thousand illegal gambling and lottery apps, although state-run media complained that customers who’d already downloaded these apps were still receiving ‘push’ notifications and updates from app developers.
Apple’s in-house efforts to ensure gambling app developers aren’t serving forbidden markets remain something of a work-in-progress. Last August, Apple was found to have accidentally purged numerous apps that had nothing to do with unauthorized gambling. This February, Apple was accused of failing to detect a dozen gambling apps that eluded the company’s screening process.