Once-blocked Net Neutrality-tracking app Wehe will be allowed in the iOS App Store
Apple blocked Wehe, an app to test net neutrality compliance — but after the developer provided more information, the company has reversed its decision and is now allowing the app in the store.
Called Wehe, the app by David Choffnes tests download speeds from YouTube, Amazon, NBCSports, Netflix, Skype, Spotify, and Vimeo, checking for differentiation, Motherboard said on Thursday. Ideally, traffic flagged as coming through a particular app or service should run just as fast as that stripped of identifiers.
An App Store reviewer originally blocked the app for "objectionable content," claiming that it "has no direct benefits to the user," even suggesting that it "may mislead users by providing inaccurate determinations." The app collects data for a research study, and asks users to consent at launch.
Choffnes' team is separately working for Verizon to research the performance of the company's video streaming services, and under contract with a French telecom regular to provide Wehe as a service.
In Motherboard testing of Verizon through Wehe, services like Amazon Video, Netflix, and YouTube were conspicuously being throttled. YouTube, for instance, was able to hit 20 megabits per second without identifiers, but only 6 megabits when left as usual.
After news of the block was reported, Apple contacted Choffnes for more information on how the app worked. After providing the information, the app has been approved.
Though the U.S. Federal Communications Commission just recently voted to repeal net neutrality protections — something still encountering public and political resistance — Choffnes argues that neutrality didn't exist even prior to rules changes. Carriers like Verizon and T-Mobile have put limits on video resolution, and/or zero-rated certain services so they don't count against data caps.