Apple boots crime reporting app Vigilante from App Store

By Roger Fingas

Less than a week after its launch, Apple has banned a crime-reporting app called Vigilante from the App Store, which may have raised concerns over potential risks and abuses.

The app, developed by Sp0n, was initially released for New York City residents, and is meant to notify them about crimes reported via 911, The Guardian said. Users near an incident are alerted, and can even record live video.

Sp0n explained the ban only by saying that Apple was concerned about content.

"The team is working with Apple to resolve the issue and they are confident the app will be made available in the near future," a spokeswoman added. "Vigilante will introduce an Android version of the app in the upcoming weeks with plans to expand in additional cities later this year."

Apple does have rules against apps that could put users in danger, though, and indeed a promotional video for the app shows people rushing to a scene where a woman is being assaulted. In reality, the attacker could have turned on his witnesses and hurt or killed them.

Apple might also have been concerned about people using the app to harass others. While its crime reports stem from 911, people could theoretically start shooting video of innocent people, or even trying to detain or attack them. Racial profiling has been an issue in some other iOS apps, like Nextdoor, whose developer ultimately had to take steps to prevent reporting suspicious activity simply based on skin color.