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Sudden termination of the iOS Developer Program membership by Apple

ArtUraniaArtUrania RussiaPosts: 13New Users *
Hi,

This was completely unexpected! I've registered as an Apple Developer and joined iOS Developer Program in February 2013. Since then I've unsuccessfully tried to publish one app for iPhone/iPad/iPod, got rejected by Apple several times, left attempts to publish this app and started thinking of another (new) apps.

About a week ago I have successfully renewed my iOS Developer Program membership, updated development and distribution certificates, added the draft descriptions of my future apps to the iTunes Connect (including in-app purchase items), added two test users to my account on iTunes Connect... and nothing else as far as I can remember.

I'm absolutely sure that I haven't violated any terms and conditions, in fact I didn't do much under the developer account (as I stated above).

BUT yesterday I've got the email from Apple titled Notice of Termination; Follow-up: xxx (numbers changed to 'xxx') saying:
Dear Polina:

This letter serves as notice of termination of the iOS Developer Program License Agreement (the “iDP Agreement”) and the Registered Apple Developer Agreement (the “Registered Developer Agreement”) between you and Apple effective immediately.

Pursuant to Section 3.2(f) of the iDP Agreement, you agreed that you would not “commit any act intended to interfere with the Apple Software or related services, the intent of this Agreement, or Apple’s business practices including, but not limited to, taking actions that may hinder the performance or intended use of the App Store or the Program.” Apple has good reason to believe that you violated this Section due to documented indications of fraudulent conduct associated with your account.

Apple is exercising its right to terminate your status as a Registered Apple Developer pursuant to the Registered Apple Developer Agreement and is terminating you under the iDP Agreement for dishonest and fraudulent acts relating to that agreement. We would like to remind you of your obligations with regard to all software and other confidential information that you obtained from Apple as a Registered Apple Developer and under the iDP Agreement. You must promptly cease all use of and destroy such materials and comply with all the other termination obligations set forth in Section 12.3 of the iDP Agreement and Section 8 of the Registered Developer Agreement.

This letter is not intended to be a complete statement of the facts regarding this matter, and nothing in this letter should be construed as a waiver of any rights or remedies Apple may have, all of which are hereby reserved. Finally, please note that we will deny your reapplication to the iOS Developer Program for at least a year considering the nature of your acts.

Sincerely,

Apple Inc.
Of course the first thing I did--I've sent a message to Apple Developer Support through the web form saying:
Hi,
Few minutes ago I have received the message from Apple (cited below) that literally shocked me! I have never ever done anything illegal or fraudulent especially to Apple that I rate and respect very much! All this is just plain false accusation! Please restore my iOS Developer Program membership immediately! My developer ID is XXXXXXXX, my Apple ID is 'xxx@xxx.xxx'.
P.S. Hope to hear from you very soon... Don't know what to say... What I'd like to hear is maybe some kind of apologies for such a terrible mistake...
Regards,
Polina
...
The next thing I did in the morning--I've called Apple Developer Program telephone support and described my situation. They said they can't discuss with me any details of my case and actually don't have any information on it, so they promised me to pass this case to the account termination team (that's exactly what they said).

However today I've got another email titled Notification of removal from the iTunes Store: XXX (my full name changed to 'XXX') saying:
Your iTunes provider account is suspended due to documented connections to fraudulent behavior. Suspension includes removing your content from the App Store. All apps related to XXX have been removed from the App Store.
Sincerely,
iTunes Account Supervisor
What I luck I don't have any published apps in the App Store yet, or else I would grow hysterical!

P.S. I called other iOS developers I know in my city, and one of them (very experienced one who now works for a company and do not publish his own apps on the App Store) told me that exactly the same thing happened to his private iOS developer account just few hours before mine! So this is NOT a single case! Apple is doing something wrong to some honest and loyal developers!

Can anyone help, throw light on what's happening or give an advise? I don't understand what's going on! What's wrong with Apple?!

Regards,
Polina
Post edited by ArtUrania on
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Replies

  • chemistrychemistry Posts: 544Registered Users @ @ @
    You say you don't have any published apps yet, but what apps had you been trying to submit to the store?
  • ArtUraniaArtUrania RussiaPosts: 13New Users *
    edited February 2014
    If you mean some illegal stuff, then I have not tried to publish anything illegal. Here is my app that I tried to publish on Apple App Store (it's written in Qt cross-platform framework):

    <Links removed: To summarize, the app has been accepted on every mobile platform except iOS, and does not appear to be "illegal" -- NSFoo >

    Apple has rejected it because of 'lack of iOS features' :-( But I don't mind--if they think it's not appropriate for iOS, they are the owners of the platform, so they have a right to choose what apps to publish and what don't.

    But regarding my situation with termination of iOS Developer Program membership, it looks like a rip-off of a simpleton :)
    Post edited by NSFoo on
  • Arty TalesArty Tales Posts: 420Registered Users @ @
    edited February 2014
    Very strange.

    A totally random idea. Was this developer account linked to a private iTunes account? Did you review many apps on this iTunes (the apps of friends for example)?
  • KarlJayKarlJay Posts: 437Registered Users @ @
    From the looks of the youtube video on the linked site: Qt is some kind of development IDE that allows you to load the app onto a device.

    If you were marketing (selling) Qt and it loads software onto a device, I'd say that is illegal.

    Apple controls loading apps to the device, you can't load to the device unless you have a paid account. 2nd, Apple's system controls access to hardware (sandboxing) and if your Qt is loading apps, they could violate the sandbox rules.

    From the looks of it, Qt might be a cross platform IDE designed to replace Xcode. Apple's controls are in Xcode, if you are bypassing those controls, I'm pretty sure that's why they closed your account. If that's the case, I wouldn't expect to have it reopened.
  • ArtUraniaArtUrania RussiaPosts: 13New Users *
    edited February 2014
    @ Arty Tales: No, I used a separate Apple ID for a developer account and never linked it to any other services.

    @KarlJay: AFAIK there is a number of apps in the App Store created with Qt, so it's a framework accepted by Apple. And the way I used Qt was strictly static (no dynamic code or data is loaded by Dream Calendar app at all). The moderator of this forum removed the links to the app stores from my previous post, but if you want to take a look at the app just go to my profile, visit my website and open Dream Calendar web app--there you'll find the links to the mobile versions of my app at Google Play, Windows Phone Store and Blackberry World (also you may find it at Amazon.com with ease by searching for "Dream Calendar", actually you may find it simply by searching at any app store listed above;).

    In addition, pay attention to the fact that other iOS developer's account from my city was terminated few hours earlier, and there is absolutely no direct connection between our accounts! He also has no published apps (because he develops apps as a freelancer for others), and he also understands nothing in this situation, because he also never done anything illegal. The only common thing between our accounts is that I borrowed his iPhone 3GS once for testing and registered it at my developer account. But that device never used for any illegal activity and now is lying on his shelf, turned off for many days...
    Post edited by ArtUrania on
  • KarlJayKarlJay Posts: 437Registered Users @ @
    Ok, answer this:
    Is Qt a replacement for Xcode?
    Does it allow you to put an app on a device without going thru Apple's check that's built into Xcode?

    Does it use a language other than what Xcode uses? Not considering that you can use C,C++, ObjC in Xcode.

    In other words, it looks like a tool that bypasses Xcode. If that's the case, it's no different than Microsoft making their IDE support the Apple devices.

    This issue came up years ago with Unity. Unity apps were not allowed, this was reversed, in part because Apple had no native tool that compares to Unity and several top hit apps were in Unity or Unity type tools.

    If Unity didn't have a huge following and hit apps, they might have been banned.
  • RudyRudy Ottawa, CanadaPosts: 1,787Registered Users @ @ @ @
    KarlJay wrote: »
    Ok, answer this:
    Is Qt a replacement for Xcode?
    KarlJay, go do some research on qt. It's perfectly fine to use for the appstore, it's NOT the issue here.

    To be honest with you @ArtUrania I think the answer lies with your "friend", I think he might have done something and Apple banned his account and other accounts linked to his device (yours)


    No one knows but Apple, hopefully you'll get an answer but I really don't think this is a widespread problem
  • ArtUraniaArtUrania RussiaPosts: 13New Users *
    It's very tempting to think that it's the fault of another developer (who owns the 3GS device I tested my apps on)... But I know him for a long time and even consulted with him on iOS development. He works for the respected companies, he's experienced developer and he's not an idiot to take the actions violating the terms and conditions to be banned from the iOS developer program... We discussed this situation and we both don't understand why Apple did this. By the way he was not using his iOS developer account for a month or so before the termination because he was working on another project...

    Anyway, don't you think it would be a very strange reason to terminate the iOS Developer Program membership because I registered one device that is registered at another developer's account? Apple couldn't have an evidence that I even know him in person! I could just send the beta version of my app to him for a testing and review - that's not forbidden!
  • ArtUraniaArtUrania RussiaPosts: 13New Users *
    Reading the iOS Developer Program License Agreement now. Found:
    3.2 Use of the Apple Software
    (f) You will not, directly or indirectly, commit any act intended to interfere with the Apple Software or related services, the intent of this Agreement, or Apple’s business practices including, but not limited to, taking actions that may hinder the performance or intended use of the App Store, VPP/B2B Program Site, or the Program (e.g., submitting fraudulent reviews of Your own Application or any third party application, choosing a name for Your Application that is substantially similar to the name of a third party application in order to create consumer confusion, or squatting on application names to prevent legitimate third party use);

    12.2 Termination
    This Agreement and all rights and licenses granted by Apple hereunder and any services provided hereunder will terminate, effective immediately upon notice from Apple:
    (a) if You or any of Your Authorized Developers fail to comply with any term of this Agreement other than those contained in Section 10 (Confidentiality) and fail to cure such breach within 30 days after becoming aware of or receiving notice of such breach;

    Either party may terminate this Agreement for its convenience, for any reason or no reason, effective 30 days after providing the other party with written notice of its intent to terminate.

    So in my understanding Apple has just violated this agreement by termination of my account without sending me a notice 30 days before the termination. Am I right?
  • savannasavanna Posts: 268New Users @ @
    "squatting on application names to prevent legitimate third party use"

    is it this? If you have no apps uploaded and you gave up on getting your single app approved, it could look like you are sitting on that app name with no intention to publish anything?
  • ArtUraniaArtUrania RussiaPosts: 13New Users *
    My last attempt to submit my Dream Calendar app for review was in December 2013. After it was rejected I decided to concentrate on other apps and then either rewrite it as a native iOS app (without using any cross-platform framework at all) or rewrite it in some other popular cross-platform framework like Unity or so...

    Apple may, of course, find it suspicious that I have added 4 new apps to iTunes Connect having my previous app in rejected state... But if they do, why didn't they ask me and send me a notice 30 days before termination as it's stated in the Agreement? I added those apps less than a week before that 'termination'!

    And the new app names were about 30 characters long, so this was not a name squatting definitely ;)

    P.S. I talked with my friend who's account was also terminated, and he tells that on his iTunes Connect account there were only 2-3 apps he tested recently (not published)... I.e. it was a regular developer's account with no 'name squatting' patterns or the like.

    Does anybody know other developer(s) who's accounts were terminated by Apple with no apparent reason? Not necessarily now, but last year, maybe earlier?
  • KarlJayKarlJay Posts: 437Registered Users @ @
    What was the reason the app was rejected in December 2013? Maybe there's a clue there.

    If it's not an issue of using a cross-platform tool, then we have the issue of using someone's 3GS. I can't see any way Apple would care about using someone's device for testing. Even if it were banned for some reason, it was still just a person testing on his device.

    I really think you have to get in touch with Apple.

    Sadly, we are under Apple's complete control. They don't have to answer to anyone, they've made themselves gods and we are pawns.

    Was there any non-standard things with your bank like taking BitCoins or government takeover or funding a movie Obama didn't like?

    It might take time and be a hassle, but I really think you are down to talking with Apple.
  • ArtUraniaArtUrania RussiaPosts: 13New Users *
    Thank you @KarlJay for your suggestions. I'm trying to get in touch with Apple since the very moment I received the 'Notice of Termination', but I have not received any definite response yet. When I called the telephone support, they said they can't tell me when the 'account termination team' contact me on this issue (so they may not contact me at all in the worst case scenario).

    The reason for my app rejection was 'lack of iOS features'. Don't think it's a good reason for account termination ;)

    I'm Russian (as well as my friend who was also banned). But we contacted other Russian iOS developers and no one else was banned like us ...yet :) Our bank accounts are in different banks, so there's no connection here as well.
  • ArtUraniaArtUrania RussiaPosts: 13New Users *
    edited February 2014
    It appears that this is a mass account termination of Russian developers!!! Here is the discussion at Russian forum of iOS developers: http://www.iphones.ru/forum/index.php?showtopic=95101 - many developers are saying their accounts were terminated since February 19! Even those who had published apps!!!
  • RudyRudy Ottawa, CanadaPosts: 1,787Registered Users @ @ @ @
    I think saying mass might be a bit of an exaggeration, so far we have maybe 3 confirmed accounts (we could maybe stretch that number to 5 if we assume you and your friend didn't post on that forum). There's not really any points in trying to speculate why your account was terminated until Apple gets back to you (and hopefully tells you exactly the reason). I have a few theories myself but again they're just that theories. Keep us posted when you get something back from Apple.
  • KarlJayKarlJay Posts: 437Registered Users @ @
    I just checked the app, it looks like it really is more of a web app than an iOS app. Is there anything that it does that requires iOS?

    Could the entire app be run on the web?

    I understand that Apple is cracking down on apps that should be web sites instead of apps. However, I don't know why they would drop an account and not just drop the app.

    I looked at the Russian site and it looks like only some are using Qt, so that's probably not the issue.

    Hard to say what these accounts have in common, it might be that some others were busted for something like faking something and you just got caught up in the wind.

    Kinda like throwing out the baby with the bath water...

    It'll be interesting to find out what the answer is, keep us posted.
  • Arty TalesArty Tales Posts: 420Registered Users @ @
    I get the impression that Apple acts quicker to terminate accounts with few/no apps than those with many.

    @Rudy: What would those theories be?
  • siberiamansiberiaman Russia, NovosibirskPosts: 1New Users Noob
    Hi ArtUrania,

    Good news - you're not alone.

    Bad news - it's seems to be a disaster or blind fury (but also may be just a horrible mistake!) from Apple :(

    I also got a notice of termination on Feb 20, same reason (Section 3.2(f)) and no more details. I had two apps in AppStore, long time doesn't updated (I'd plans to develop new versions for iOS 7), both free (one with IAP). I just re-newed my iDP subscription in January 25 2014. Tried to get more details of my "guilt" via emails, had phone call to Apple Dev Support (they say nothing helpful).

    I hope Apple will take a look at all cases and provide more proof or just return things back.

    It's about at least ten similar cases and all developers are from Russia.
  • ArtUraniaArtUrania RussiaPosts: 13New Users *
    The message about our situation has been published at Apple's Developer Forum: https://devforums.apple.com/thread/220319
    I hope this situation will be resolved as soon as possible by Apple.
  • gvendelgvendel gvendelPosts: 1New Users Noob
    February 2014. Apple representatives told ... that the California-based company in February of this year, "has undergone a series of sophisticated hacker attacks," along with that part of the corporation have been infected devices.
  • ArtUraniaArtUrania RussiaPosts: 13New Users *
    gvendel wrote: »
    February 2014. Apple representatives told ... that the California-based company in February of this year, "has undergone a series of sophisticated hacker attacks," along with that part of the corporation have been infected devices.

    Wow! That explains a lot! Please give me the link to the source of this information ASAP!
  • raymngraymng Posts: 2,046Registered Users @ @ @ @
    @ArtUrania

    So what is the result finally? Your account can be restored?
  • sparksosparkso Posts: 542Registered Users @ @ @
    @raymng you got yours terminated?
  • avav2avav2 AustinPosts: 2New Users Noob
    If there is anyone in the U.S who has had a similar experience, please contact me. This is something that seems to happen to a lot of developers - and Apple essentially turns a blind eye towards it.

    In our case, we lost hundreds of app downloads due to an arbitrary closing of the account - and no explanation was forthcoming.

    I am exploring legal options currently.


    Thanks
    AV
  • dev666999dev666999 Posts: 3,613New Users @ @ @ @ @
    edited November 2016
    avav2 wrote: »
    If there is anyone in the U.S who has had a similar experience, please contact me. This is something that seems to happen to a lot of developers - and Apple essentially turns a blind eye towards it.

    In our case, we lost hundreds of app downloads due to an arbitrary closing of the account - and no explanation was forthcoming.

    I am exploring legal options currently.


    Thanks
    AV

    You really have no legal options. Apple's attorneys will bury you if you decide to sue. In the USA many times "Might makes right".

    And it will not get better with the coming new administration.

    Post edited by dev666999 on
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