The timing, really couldn’t be more perfect. Just as no less than Apple VP Phil Schiller has started making comments on the record about App Store rejections, Apple yanks another very popular one from its store. Sex Offender, an app to locate sexual predators in your area, had been consistently in the top 10 paid apps for weeks. And now it’s gone — not just off of the list, but off of the store.
We haven’t been able to get in touch directly with the developers of the app yet, but we’re told that they’re looking into the possibility of filing a suit (presumably against Apple) for the removal. So clearly they feel this removal is unjust. But at we wrote when we covered the app a couple weeks ago, this may have to do with the fact that they were charging for this app. As a couple commenters noted in our last story, “This app is not legal, at least under CA law. Selling the personal information of people (even ex-criminals) for profit is forbidden.”
Again, it’s hard to know for sure if that’s the reason why the app was pulled, but it stands to reason that it could have something to do with it. But the bigger picture is that this once again shows a major problem in the App Store (surprise). Why was this app accepted in the first place if it was going to be rejected just a few weeks later? The app is all about tracking sexual offenders, if that doesn’t scream “screen me closely,” I don’t know what does. Yet, it would seem that the app reviewers at Apple didn’t check quite closely enough, again.
There are no shortage of these types of stories: Apps getting approved and then yanked, but usually it happens relatively quickly, and doesn’t involve a hugely popular app. That is not the case here, which makes this interesting. I still have the app on my iPhone and it is still working. We’ll update if we hear more.