Apple has removed the crime-alerting application Vigilante from its App Store earlier this Wednesday. The company cited content concerns for the ban of the app on iOS devices, and the developers are currently working on getting it back up.
Apple’s decision comes at a time when security, both personal and online, is a controversial topic in the United States.
Recently, the country’s political scene and private industry have suffered from multiple, massive cyber attacks. Vigilante’s intention is to help fight crime, one smartphone user at a time.
While the developer team seems to have its heart in the right place, Apple is not too convinced. The digital era of connected devices has seen the release of similar endeavors with good intentions, only to end up banned or as failed projects after users turn them into instruments for their wrongdoings.
What is Vigilante and what does it do?
Vigilante is a new app exclusive for iOS devices, currently in development for Android users too. The application’s aim is to make vigilantes out of citizens, providing them with alerts of nearby crimes so they can act accordingly.
Now, while Vigilante does warn users of interfering with real-life crimes they might happen to encounter, it also prompts them to use their smartphones to record or take pictures of the events.
The company released an ad for the app on YouTube that shows the whole process behind the app’s core objective in a ‘real’ situation with ‘real’ people. The video has over 80,000 views, and negative comments abound in the section below it.
Apple and many others think Vigilante could put people in danger
The ad stars with a woman reporting to the 911 that a suspicious man is following her as she walks to her car at night. 911 redirects the report to the local police authorities, and, in turn, Vigilante agents catch the news and send it to their nearby users.
Several people receive the alert and those who are closest to it decide to take action. One of them hops in his car, another one in his bike, and a third one pursues on foot. A woman records from her window as the criminal follows the woman closer.
The perpetrator finally attacks the woman, and the first Vigilante arrives on the scene just in time to catch the criminal’s face on video. The man in the car and the one in the bike come shortly after, all of them before the police patrol which is still on its way.
The message is clear, but Apple and many users online don’t share the same view. Apple is concerned that Vigilante becomes a tool for racial profiling, false reports, and perhaps even life-endangering situations.
“Unfortunately, Vigilante is not currently available on the App Store. We are working with Apple to resolve their concerns. In the meantime, the Vigilante app will continue to operate for those who already have it,” reads an official statements by Vigilante’s developing team.