Apple Approves App That Detects Net Neutrality Violations With Speed Tests

Apple is not a stranger to getting press after its review process blocks or outright rejects an app. In this particular case, though, there’s a positive turnaround in a pretty short period of time.

As first reported by Motherboard, an app developed by David Choffnes that is designed to detect net neutrality violations by way of a speed test was rejected by the App Store review process. The app is called Wehe, and, according to the review’s results, it was determined that the app didn’t provide a benefit to the end user in any meaningful capacity.

Details about the app reveal why Apple might have blocked it. The first part of the app is a pretty straightforward speed test. This is the speed test part of the app, which works in the way you’d imagine: Users can test the download speed on their device from services like YouTube and Netflix.

The second part of the app, though, is where things get a bit muddled. Choffnes’s app is designed to collect anonymous, recorded data. That data is related to an ongoing study over net neutrality violations from major service providers. The goal there is to provide information on net neutrality violations, in a meaningful, real world scenario based on devices actually testing the results out in the wild. Choffnes is a researcher at Northeastern University and believes this data could be helpful in pointing out companies that are guilty of violations.

Apple rejected the app as mentioned above, however, 18 hours after that rejection the app was actually approved. In its communication with Choffnes, Apple said that it deals with a lot of apps that aren’t upfront about what they do for the end user, and that many apps just don’t do what they claim they do. Apple requested a detailed technical look at what Wehe does, and how it is able to detect whether ISPs are throttling certain types of data.

After Choffnes replied, Apple approved the app. As it stands right now, the link to the app isn’t available, but that should change soon.

Our Take

Choffnes says that the back-and-forth was pleasant enough, but it didn’t articulate any details about the review process. As is par for the course, the inner workings of Apple’s iOS App Store review process remain a mystery. In this case, though, it’s good to see that a potentially positive app like Choffnes’s, one that might actually help point out offending companies and service providers, got approved pretty quickly after the initial rejection.

[via Motherboard]

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