back to article Apple drones reject American drone-strike tracker app

Apple has repeatedly rejected an app which pushes notifications onto iPhones every time an American robot flyer makes a strike. The information is public, slurped from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, and the app takes its lead from The Guardian, which bundled the same functionality into a story on the subject of death by …

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Coat

"Operation Enduring Freedom"

Otherwise known as 'Freedom From Above'

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Anonymous Coward

"red-blooded Republicans who'll be raising a toast every time their alert goes off."

Cold blooded, black hearted you mean!

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presumably that will interrupt their 'partying while black people drown'

bummer - sux to be rich

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Pirate

are you surprised?

Apple doesn't want all this stuff from the ugly old real world intruding on the utopia that is planet i.

Now shut up and take your dreamshit.

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Unhappy

The difference between drones and more conventional strikes

From a "interest point of view" drones are more often targeted against important individuals such as the recent killing of Badruddin Haqqani. Whereas dropping a load of ordnance on a village in the mountains where no one famous gets killed could be part of the reason we don't get apps for that.

P.S. IMHO killing is killing and I feel far more sorry for the poor sod who gets killed whilst just trying to get on with their lives but that is the way the world seems to be, and always probably has been.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The difference between drones and more conventional strikes

Drone strikes *sometimes* target "important" individuals but more often than not they just target people who seem suspicious based on surveillance imagery.

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Stop

"The Western media are strangely obsessed with "drone" strikes for some reason"

If you step back and view the matter with a bit of perspective, it's for three main reasons:

1) The attacks are often targeted assassinations, rather than air-strikes called in by ground forces.

2) Some people are concerned that automated weapon systems are dehumanising war (!), or that stuffz could go wrong.

3) Such strikes are very often carried out in areas where USAF/NATA aircraft cannot operate, such as inside the borders of other countries who have NOT given permission (Pakistan), or inside countries which are trying not to be seen to take the King's Shilling (Quatar).

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hmmm

1) it's often been said that if the politicians were in the firing line there would be fewer wars.

2) did you really just suggest that targeting individuals rather than whole cities is *de*humanising war?

3) aren't foreign combatants in neutral countries supposed to be interned?

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Stop

Re: hmmm

Did you really just set up a straw man on point number 2?

He/She said automated weapons are considered by some to be dehumanizing war, not "targeting individuals rather than whole cities".

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Re: hmmm

>2) did you really just suggest that targeting individuals rather than whole cities is *de*humanising war?

Yes - if you carpet bomb Dresden then the people ordering it, and the people doing it, have to think about what they have done.

If you just draw a box on Google Earth and an automated drone automatically kills anyone in it until you click cancel - then you are a lot more likely to order it, the troops are much more likely to do it, and the people at home aren't going to object.

Think of drones as virtual minefields and they are a lot less acceptable.

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"2) Some people are concerned that automated weapon systems are dehumanising war (!), or that stuffz could go wrong."

The difference between manned and unmanned missions is cable versus radio. In manned missions, the aircraft and weaponry are controlled by computers which are in turn directed by the pilot and other crew at the end of bundles of cables/fibre. Many weapons are highly automated, guiding themselves to their targets once released, without further human intervention. In unmanned missions, everything is the same, except that the pilot and other crew are sitting somewhere else, at the end of some radio links. The level of automation is not significantly different in manned or unmanned missions. Examples of fully autonomous weapon systems are cruise missiles and ICBMs, the latter typically carrying multiple warheads, each of which is fully autonomous and capable of delivering a nuclear weapon to an identified target.

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Re: hmmm

"If you just draw a box on Google Earth and an automated drone automatically kills anyone in it..."

That's not how they work - there is still a pilot, although sitting somewhere else, instead of in the aircraft.

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Re: then the people ordering it, and the people doing it, have to think about what they have done.

I think we need an icon of a cute puppy or kitten or something to express that vaguely heart warming yet exasperating feeling that is brought by the sight of sweet and innocent but utter naivety...

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Stop

"The difference between manned and unmanned missions is cable versus radio."

Yes; I realise that. Hence "some people". Please don't confuse me replying to a post asking why the media is obsessed with drones as equating to a lack of misunderstanding of how technology works.

However, a lot of people are uncomfortable with the situation, and the media is a reflection of that fear.

There is a legitimate fear that when a war does not cost the aggressor lives, the aggressor is more willing to extend diplomacy by that means.

There is a legitimate fear that war as a video game is depersonalised and thus somehow becomes more morally acceptable. I would counter that point by saying that war has ALWAYS been depersonalised by the people who start it, as politicians are already enormously divorced from the reality. Moot point, in many ways. The people most scarred by moral issues are not those making the decisions.

Finally, there is the (currently) ill-founded idea that something can go wrong and the machine can kill the wrong people or whatever. However, this can already and does already happen when humans are at the trigger, and machines currently do not pull their own triggers. Slightly more understandable is the point that drones are an evolution to the day when robots will make the kill-choice and fire the weapons, and that there is both scope for error and scope for States happily waging way via video game.

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Alert

Re: hmmm

"If you just draw a box on Google Earth and an automated drone automatically kills anyone in it..."

"That's not how they work"

No, but it is pretty much how MRLS works, ironically.

We've been blasting grin co-ordinates clean of human life for the last 20 years. And doing it via the even less choosy means of massed indirect artillery barrages for a hundred.

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Facepalm

Re: hmmm

"it's often been said that if the politicians were in the firing line there would be fewer wars."

Which is why the canny bastards specifically made it against the Geneva Convention to target them.

"did you really just suggest that targeting individuals rather than whole cities is *de*humanising war?"

No. That's a straw man you erected. Please re-read what I wrote. But I'll address the point anyway:

"If you just draw a box on Google Earth and an automated drone automatically kills anyone in it "

Except that's not how they work. They are a lot more precise than any other method of over-the-horizon killing.

"Think of drones as virtual minefields and they are a lot less acceptable.""

So... if your point was true (which it's not) then we could think of them as kind of like ***artillery***.

Y'know: That Queen of the Battlefield. That thing responsible for far more WW2 combat casualties than mere bullets. The ship sailed on whether that was immoral a long time ago, I'm afraid. Joe Public is fine with it, it would seem. Pick a few square miles and turn it into a churned mass of soil and splintered limbs and nobody minds. Dropping a Hellfire from a Predator is where the moral problem currently lies in the public perception.

"3) aren't foreign combatants in neutral countries supposed to be interned?"

The US has plenty of SF teams acting in instructional roles in neutral countries, but that aside:

Foreign combatants flying combat missions to bomb the crap out of your own people plus the occasional random bystanders are Casus Belli, if you really want to go down that path. Or bloody good grounds for firing off a SAM battery and taking it to the UN, at least.

The US is using drones to conduct warfare in neutral countries and to basically wage wars while avoiding excess political trouble. Anything that allows nations to more easily resort to violence is a bad thing.

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Terminator

"The Western media are strangely obsessed with "drone" strikes for some reason"

Because they at least see the threat that allowing our future robotic overlords so much human-killing practice poses to us.

I, for one, etc.

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FAIL

It got rejected for being "Useless"

1,000,000 fart buttons, however...

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Anonymous Coward

'It got rejected for being "Useless"'.

Hmmmm, isn't that meant to be the role of the "market"? How would it hurt Apple to approve the app and let people vote with their wallets?

Unless of course the people who run Apple, like the people who run all the mainstream media (hereinafter referred to as "presstitutes"), have figured out which side their bread is buttered on.

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Unhappy

The reason a lot of people, myself included, are worried about "drones" is because we worry it's making war too easy for the politicians to wage. Think about it, if they have to risk human lives to wage war, they will be more circumspect about when they do it, oh a lot of the bastards don't care about the soldiers dying, but they do care about the pole ratings drop that comes from seeing flag draped coffins coming home.

War should never be easy or risk free, it should be the very last resort, not something you can do by remote control with no risk to "your side"

An American General once said, "It is well that war is so terrible, or we would grow to fond of it".

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Thumb Down

There's an app for that

For people too fucking scared to strap on some guns and go kill bad guys. Much better to observe from a fag phone.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There's an app for that

"For people too fucking scared to strap on some guns and go kill bad guys. Much better to observe from a fag phone".

People who "strap on some guns and go kill" ARE the bad guys.

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Alert

Re: There's an app for that

"For people too fucking scared to strap on some guns and go kill bad guys. Much better to observe from a fag phone."

Off you go then.

G'wan: Shoo.

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Linux

Fruity tagline?

iTunes - One appstore to rule them all, and in the darkness, censor them.

With apologies to JRRT.

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Anonymous Coward

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon (facepalm)

Apple say no. Big surprise - doesn't blend well with the Cupertino kool-aid, But it's not on Google Play either - did they barf too, or is it iOS only? Can't see the apk on the web anywhere...

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Anonymous Coward

>"What do we learn here?"

That you're an idiot who somehow thinks that if one thing is wrong, it's hypocritical to care about something else that's also wrong.

It isn't.

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Bronze badge

I wonder...

... who will be the first black-hat to enter the history books for hacking a military drone.

... if anyone would mourn if said hacker used the drone to kill the people who were using it before it was hacked.

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Anonymous Coward

Drones in their millions..................

............................Buy it !

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Mushroom

Apple first complained his app, Drones+, wasn't useful

From the first firm to approve a fart app on a smart phone

<-- what happens when you light one of my farts

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Anonymous Coward

Shiny Happy People

IT GETS BETTER: Apple rejected the drone strike app, but ACCEPTED the "UAV Fighter Free" game app from TransLumen, a military contractor. So it's ok to play drone killer, just don't ask about the real life outcomes of drone killing, eh Apple?

Here's the link to the UAV game app: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/uav-fighter-free/id317677424?mt=

BONUS: In 2010, Apple blocked the WikiLeaks app, but ACCEPTED the TSA Defender app, where you are a TSA agent fighting WikiLeaks.

Shiny Happy Devices For Shiny Happy People!

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Summary Exectution

The strongest argument against UAV's is there use in summary executions which the US is quite fond of lately, them seem to be forgetting the law. Most recently they have been using them to assassinate suspected terrorists in a Pakistan, couple of issues with that really:

1) They aren't at war with Pakistan so it cant be put down to causalities of war and they have no legal right within the country.

2) They are 'suspected terrorists', quite easy to label people as suspected but actually proving it is another thing.

3) Half the reason these 'suspected terrorists' become terrorists is because they're family up the road got hit by a missile in a strike against someone else based on orders from people in the US.

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Bronze badge

Have you not considered the fact that it may only be a matter of time before the enemy of the US has mobile devices capable of remotely attacking its troops.These may not be as technically superior as those used already and may be ground based rather than ariel but they will still kill just as many people should they make an appearence.

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> a matter of time before the enemy of the US has mobile devices capable of remotely attacking

I think it already has. They're called suicide bombers. Other than the bravery of the operator I don't see any practical difference between drone warfare and suicide bombings.

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Anonymous Coward

re: Ariel

No no, the little mermaid is far more deadly than any remotely-operated aircraft.

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Anonymous Coward

"Drones"

OK, let's get this straight. The Predator and Reaper are not "drones". As Bill mentions, nobody in the military uses this term as it is not correct. The aerial vehicles being discussed are UAVs.

Drones are autonomous. There are currently no armed aerial vehicles that are capable of firing based on their own decisions.

UAVs are remotely controlled by human pilots with military training, and so the decision to fire is treated with the same gravity as it would be in a manned aircraft.

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