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Apple rejects 'questionable' US drone strike tracker app

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Apple's app store has removed an application which allows users to track U.S. military drone strikes for 'questionable content'.

Apple's app store has removed an application which allows users to track U.S. military drone strikes for 'questionable content'.

After the British newspaper The Guardian ran an interactive map of American drone strikes earlier this month, which pinpointed the locations in Pakistan where missiles from unmanned aerial vehicles struck suspected terrorist bases, New York University student Josh Begley took the data to develop an iPhone app.

Begley's app, called Drone+, was dedicated exclusively to tracking drone strikes. Every time a drone strike occurred, an alert was sent to the user, and location could be tracked through an interactive map.

In the first instance, Apple rejected the app for being "not useful". Begley then added the drone alert feature -- and it was rejected for the second time due to Google's logo placed on the map. The third time, the application was rejected for being "objectionable and crude".

This week, Apple notified the app developer that the software represents "excessively crude" content, even though there is no graphic images or close-ups and no pornography -- it showed nothing more than the pinpoint location of a drone strike on a map.

"I wanted to have a more granular sense of what drone strikes really did look like out of genuine curiosity." Begley told the New York Times.

Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr confirmed that the app was removed for violating Apple policy, but refused to comment on what content was deemed 'objectionable'.

However, the puzzling aspect is this -- why was the material available through The Guardian's app -- "nearly identical" as the New York Times reports -- acceptable, whereas an individual's app was not?

Begley wanted the app to drive users into "drone-consciousness" -- to show how military technology is being deployed across the East. He said:

"I didn't actually expect anyone to download the app. People don't want to hear about drone strikes But that's kind of the point. Even if we have access to the data, do we really care to be interrupted by it?"

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure