Report: Apple rejecting coronavirus iOS apps that aren’t from ‘recognized institutions’

Apple is taking a firm stance against coronavirus applications that arent from “recognized institutions,” a new report from CNBC says. According to the report, Apple is trying to prevent the spread of misinformation with this policy.

For the report, CNBC spoke to four independent developers who had applications related to coronavirus rejected from the App Store. The applications in question “would allow people to see stats about which countries have confirmed cases” of coronavirus, the report says.

Some of the applications used data from sources like the World Health Organization.

Why is Apple rejecting these apps? The company reportedly told one developer over the phone that anything related to coronavirus must be released by an official health organization or government. A separate developer got a written response from Apple saying that “apps with information about current medical information need to be submitted by a recognized institution.”

Citing a person familiar with the matter, the report adds that Apple is looking at where the data in the apps comes from as well as the developers:

Apple has been specifically evaluating coronavirus apps to prevent the spread of misinformation. It looks at both where the health data comes from and whether the developers represent organizations that users can trust to publish accurate data, like governments or health-focused organizations, according to a person familiar with the matter.

As such, a search for coronavirus in the App Store on iOS reveals few results, including one app published by the Brazilian government. If Apple’s goal is to prevent misinformation, critics might argue that applications using data from organizations like WHO would help people be more aware of the ongoing situation.

Apple yesterday revised its App Store guidelines, indcluding one change that specifically relates to this situation:

An updated policy published by Apple on Wednesday has a new item, 5.1.1.ix, which is close to what developers said they were told. Apps in “highly-regulated” fields like healthcare, financial services, or air travel need to be submitted by a “legal entity that provides the services, and not by an individual developer.”

Google has taken a similar stance for Android applications in Google Play, as our sister site 9to5Google reported earlier this week.

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