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Censorship Media (Apple) Apple

Apple's Schiller Responds To iPhone Dictionary App Fiasco 200

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-so-sinister-after-all dept.
beef curtains writes "Phil Schiller, Apple senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, responded by e-mail to a blog post discussing Apple's rejection of a dictionary app. If Schiller's e-mail is to be believed, it offers an interesting perspective on this whole issue. He said, 'The issue that the App Store reviewers did find with the Ninjawords application is that it provided access to other more vulgar terms than those found in traditional and common dictionaries, words that many reasonable people might find upsetting or objectionable. ... The Ninjawords developer then decided to filter some offensive terms in the Ninjawords application and resubmit it for approval for distribution in the App Store before parental controls were implemented. Apple did not ask the developer to censor any content in Ninjawords, the developer decided to do that themselves in order to get to market faster. ... You are correct that the Ninjawords application should not have needed to be censored while also receiving a 17+ rating, but that was a result of the developers' actions, not Apple's.' PC World has an article summarizing the drama-to-date, the blog post, and Schiller's response."
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Apple's Schiller Responds To iPhone Dictionary App Fiasco

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  • by Serious Callers Only (1022605) on Friday August 07, 2009 @07:24PM (#28992061)

    'The issue that the App Store reviewers did find with the Ninjawords application is that it provided access to other more vulgar terms than those found in traditional and common dictionaries, words that many reasonable people might find upsetting or objectionable. ...

    I'd like to see Schiller respond to the developer's allegation that the reviewers sent screenshots of specific common swear words - fuck, etc. explicitly typed in by Apple employees.

    Schiller's denial is so vague as to be a non-denial - note he doesn't actually specifically say which words they were rejected for, just hints that this was really quite a dirty, unsavoury dictionary and had no place on a nice store like ours. His implication does contradict the message sent to the developers, which homed in on quite common words which belong as slang in a normal dictionary.

    Much like the Kama Sutra rejection, this brings home how farcical Apple trying to be gatekeeper and arbiter of taste on the app store really is. They should give up now before their reputation sinks under the weight of their hypocrisy - every week I hear of a new stupid and arbitrary decision by their app store reviewers.

    The Google Voice one was worse than this though - at least these guys got a reason which made some sort of sense.

  • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Friday August 07, 2009 @08:23PM (#28992459) Homepage Journal

    Naturally, the real solution should be parents acting like parents, but naturally pigs will fly before these groups put responsibility on their members.

    Are you a parent?

    I am, and in many of these cases I think the parents *are* acting like parents when they complain. I know many slashdotters live in some fantasy world where parents are able to monitor their children every waking hour, but it's not reality. Parents have a lot of stuff to do, and even those who don't work still need time to clean the house, buy the groceries, make dinner, change the oil, mow the lawn, etc. Of course, I have no sympathy for parents who buy M-rated games for their kids and are then shocked to discover that it contains content that's inappropriate for their six year-old, but as a parent I really appreciate all the parents who put up a stink and got the rating system put in place.

    Likewise, I think it's perfectly reasonable for Apple to limit the sort of content in their app store. I think the rating system is a better way, but in the absence of the rating system, I don't think it's inappropriate to refuse apps that contain profanity.

  • Re:Nothing new (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sbeckstead (555647) on Friday August 07, 2009 @08:29PM (#28992515) Homepage Journal
    2. The specific examples the developer quoted as being objected to
    The specific examples the developer let you see I'm sure there may have been others, we will never know.
  • Re:Nothing new (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sbeckstead (555647) on Friday August 07, 2009 @08:33PM (#28992543) Homepage Journal
    Until King James, bibles were written in Latin and the common man could not see the word of god he had to take the priests word for it. Masses were only performed in Latin. Censorship has been a part of human existence for our centuries. You think this is unusual.
  • In-store censoring (Score:5, Interesting)

    by quacking duck (607555) on Friday August 07, 2009 @09:04PM (#28992765)

    Canadian App store users, try this: search for "redskins" As in the Washington Redskins NFL team.

    In each of the resulting 7 or so apps, each of their descriptions has Redskins censored, i.e. "R*****ns."

    (Non-Canadians can verify this by downloading either Pandora Box or AppMiner apps, which download app lists for each country separately, and setting them to use Canadian currency)

    Native American sensibilities is one thing, but censoring the name of a recognized sports team is pretty damn ridiculous. This raises a question: what was the process for getting it censored, and who demanded it be censored?

  • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bmo (77928) on Friday August 07, 2009 @09:15PM (#28992829)

    To follow up on myself:

    In my elementary school, there was a big unabridged dictionary ready for use by anyone,

    In my local 3 room public library, the unabridged dictionary was in the Children's/Young Adult room.

    In the local library down the road from me, the unabridged dictionary is in the Reference section and does not have a giant "NC17" sign on it.

    In Apple's world, there would be armed guards around all three.

    Pure bloody-mindedness.

    --
    BMO

  • Re:Cause and Effect (Score:4, Interesting)

    by blackraven14250 (902843) on Friday August 07, 2009 @09:32PM (#28992931)
    I believe alot of the words are included in their own (OS X) dictionary, not only making them censors, but enormous hypocrites.
  • Re:surprise (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TapeCutter (624760) * on Friday August 07, 2009 @11:16PM (#28993443) Journal
    Yes you do need to search and I don't believe Apple when they say they have done this.

    Anecdote: When my daughter was in HS she came home one day and said her teacher told her that swear words are not in the dictonary. I grabed the family dictionary (a large 1980's Macquarie hardback). We looked up the word "fuckwit" and found it had a one word definition of "nincompoop". From that day forward my brother-in-law has been known to my kids as uncle nincompoop.
  • nice advertising (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Odinlake (1057938) on Friday August 07, 2009 @11:31PM (#28993523)
    I have no idea what ninjawords is about (sounds completely irrelevant to me) but it sure got some serious exposure out of all this.

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." -- Bernard Berenson

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