Josh Begley would like to help you keep track of military drone strikes on your iPhone, but apparently Apple won't let him.
Begley, an app developer who works with The Intercept, created Drones+ five years ago. All the app fundamentally did was send its users a notification when a drone strike by U.S. forces appeared in the news. But Apple rejected his app several times. He says he was told it produced "excessively objectionable or crude content."
He struggled to persuade the company to sell his product in the App Store, even giving it the remarkably vague new name Metadata+. He eventually managed to get the app up for a year. Then Apple deleted it.
In March, he reported that Apple had finally let his app back on the market, but the celebration was short-lived. By that very afternoon, the company had yanked Metadata+ yet again.
Begley's goal, he insists, is simply to help people connect to what little data are available about military drone strikes in foreign countries. These strikes are carried out secretly, and little information about them is released to the public. Independent observers have been warning for years that drones were killing innocent civilians, a reality former President Barack Obama's administration finally acknowledged in 2016.
"If anything about the app is 'excessively objectionable or crude,'" Begley wrote, "perhaps it's the airstrikes themselves."
Although Metadata+ remains unavailable for iPhone, you can get it for Android, and Begley runs a Twitter feed, @Dronestream, that tweets out links to news stories about drone strikes.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Metadata+".