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Censorship Iphone Apple Your Rights Online

Apple Bans Sexy Apps, Developers Upset 492

An anonymous reader writes "Apple is now removing many risque applications from its App Store so as not to 'scare off potential customers.' The removed applications, including SlideHer and Dirty Fingers, allowed people to see scantily clad women. Although they were once approved by Apple, even reaching the 'most downloaded' lists, Apple removed them after getting complaints that they were degrading to women. That said, the Sports Illustrated application is still available for those who want scantily clad women on their iPhone, and developers are up in arms over the perceived inconsistency. It's sure a good thing for those worried parents that they don't have any kind of web browser on there. On the internet, you're never more than one click away from something horrible." Some are speculating that this is a ploy from Apple to drum up interest in the iPad from educators.
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Apple Bans Sexy Apps, Developers Upset

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  • by cyber1kenobi ( 666018 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @01:26PM (#31246496) Homepage Journal
    Apple makes some of the dumbest moves in regards to the lifeline of their app store - the developers! Boy are they good at pissing people off! I'm a very happy shareholder (picked it up at 27 back when...!) but every day there's some new twist that they've pulled and alienated this group or that. I think parental controls and allowing any app that doesn't do harm to the phone itself would be their best stance - how many sales are they missing because of these China-like rules?
  • Awwwwww (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @01:27PM (#31246508)

    Look at me crying for these devs who supported this fucked up anticonsumer family of products.

    And I'm laughing on the inside looking at their wittle tears.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @01:28PM (#31246536)

    I find it laughable that slashdot labels so many stories as evil censorship or somehow violating "your rights online" when it is nothing of the sort.

    The fact is, a consumer retailer like Apple can stock and sell whatever products to choose to its customers. What they don't stock is really none of your business, and if you don't like, take your products and have someone else carry it.

    This is just another non-issue. The problem with Apple is that they are too successful, they need to keep out the riff raff.

  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @01:28PM (#31246542) Homepage
    Well, don't submit it to the 'Education' store. Oh, wait. There isn't one... Well, why the hell not?

    I cannot for a minute believe that the 'histrionic control freaks' at Apple can not come up with separate Adult and Education sections (Dumb and Dumber?) for the iPad. Or even an iPad only part of the store.

    Nope, too damned hard. Might take all of a week.

    Any more weird ideas, guys?
  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @01:28PM (#31246544) Journal
    I guess axing ~5,000 applications is easier than building a more effective and granular per-device rating setting system...

    Lazier, though, a lot lazier.
  • Ugh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by magsol ( 1406749 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @01:31PM (#31246594) Journal
    I'm pretty sure Apple could drum up an altruistic-sounding or business-smart reason to ban just about any app from their store.

    -No competing browsers? They duplicate existing functionality. Certainly wouldn't want that.
    -No scantily clad women? They objectify women. But pay no heed to the Sports Illustrated app or the entirety of the internet at your very literal fingertips.
    -No Google voice? Also duplicates existing functionality. But be sure to ignore the allowance of Skype.

    Yep, Apple's got a good reason for everything that it does, and its reason is placing consumers and developers first!
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @01:32PM (#31246610) Homepage

    Agreed. Sony learned from their VHS vs. Betamax lessons and proved it with the success of Bluray. What was the lesson? Betamax discouraged porn on their format. The result was that VHS won because it didn't and while no one wants to be found guilty of favoring VHS for porn, that was a significant factor in buyers' purchasing decisions.

    Sony almost took the same route with Bluray and realized their mistake was being repeated early on and allowed porn.

    Apple? If you don't allow adult content for adults to use while your competitors do? Watch out.

  • by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @01:34PM (#31246646) Journal

    I'd say taking down a best seller App based on its "Risque-ness" is censorship, any way you want to slice it.

    Apple can stock and sell whatever products it wants to choose from. Yes. It is still censorship - but we've come to terms that private companies have the right to censorship. Apple is fine with censoring, its their product. And I agree - there's nothing wrong with that. But to say it isn't censorship is like saying the Chinese government isn't censoring web searches, they are just choosing to provide what they think is best, not censorship at all.

  • Good Move (Score:5, Insightful)

    by repetty ( 260322 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @01:36PM (#31246684) Homepage

    They were hardly real apps. "Big Boobs," "Large Boobs," "Young Boobs," et cetera, et cetera. Recipe: Make an image display app, throw some pictures into it, make another version with different pictures, repeat indefinitely.

    They probably really only deleted five or ten real distinct apps.

  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @01:38PM (#31246730) Homepage Journal

    "how many sales are they missing because of these China-like rules?"
    Probably none at all. Or not enough that it matters.

    China like rules? Please if you don't like it don't buy an iPhone. Apple is just using it's freedom of choice. It is their store and they can choose to carry what they want.
    Every time I see a story like this about how upset people are I just have to giggle. The developers will stay with the iPhone as long as they are making money. People will buy the iPhone as long as they can get the apps they want.
    For Apple to have "China like rules" they would be throwing people in jail for writing the apps for android that they don't like. Right now they are no different that a tee shirt shop that doesn't want to carry tee shirts pro KKK shirts.
    Call me when their sales start dropping.

  • Developers? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by haus ( 129916 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @01:40PM (#31246778) Homepage Journal

    Not that I am a big fan of getting rid of a bunch of content because of seemingly arbitrary rules, but from the sounds of it many of this 'apps' are nothing more then a image (or a few images) of a girl/boy/goat in a bikini. It seems like a bit of a stretch to refer to those who create such content as developers.

  • by recoiledsnake ( 879048 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @01:43PM (#31246820)

    For Apple to have "China like rules" they would be throwing people in jail for writing the apps for android that they don't like. Right now they are no different that a tee shirt shop that doesn't want to carry tee shirts pro KKK shirts.

    Nope... they already ban political apps.

    From http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/09/apple-denied-health-care-app-for-political-reasons-developer-says/ [wired.com]

    Apple rejected a free iPhone application that advocated a single-payer health system, calling the application “politically charged,” according to the app’s developer.

  • by bughunter ( 10093 ) <bughunter&earthlink,net> on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @01:44PM (#31246850) Journal

    The GP's Subject line is inaccurate, but the body of his post is correct.

    It is censorship, but it's not 'evil' censorship, nor is it a violation of anyone's rights.

    Apple is exercising their right to control what's in their storefront. If you don't like it, you have other options for your porn^H^H^Hhone.

  • by recoiledsnake ( 879048 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @01:46PM (#31246874)

    Why not just allow people to download off websites without jailbreaking, like every computer out there instead of jumping through all those hoops? Oh, that 30% cut and control.

  • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @01:46PM (#31246884)

    Apple? If you don't allow adult content for adults to use while your competitors do? Watch out.

    Because Apple has become about being in a certain mindset. They not only promote it, lately they're doing their best to ENFORCE it. If you use Apple, you're a young, cool, hip, media loving yuppy. Even if you're 50 years old you must still believe in this image to fit with Apple. You sit in coffee shops for hours with your Apple devices wearing black turtlenecks and sipping over-priced latte's. Porn (along with other things that Apple declares so) doesn't fit within this envelope; it's just too "uncool" for Apple to sully itself with, so they actively forbid such applications on their devices now (and make no mistake - with the level of control they are THEIR devices, not yours). And if you dare complain? Their only retort is "You're not the target audience. This product isn't for you."

    It's insane the level of conformity they want to push. Basically, think, act, and talk like us, and if you don't, get out of the group so you don't corrupt the rest of us.

    At one time I remember loving the fact that Mac OS X and other Apple products were becoming more popular. "Anything to give me a commercial alternative to Microsoft" I thought. Now - truthfully I prefer Microsoft to Apple. Microsoft is merely incompetent with their products. Apple, despite it's higher technical competence, is flat out evil incarnate. I'm praying that Linux based computers and devices both the both of them back into a market position where they have to be behave again though.

  • by thePowerOfGrayskull ( 905905 ) <marc,paradise&gmail,com> on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @01:52PM (#31246980) Homepage Journal

    . It's sure a good thing for those worried parents that they don't have any kind of web browser on there. On the internet, you're never more than one click away from something horrible."

    Well, yeah. That's kind of the point. The things they can't control, they're making no attempt to control. However, they *can* control the contents of the store - and so they do, in order to appeal to their largest customer base. Time will tell if it's the right move; but you can't cry censorship when you agree to purchase a device whose sole gateway to applications is what is officially sanctioned by that device's creator. You sign away the right to control your user experience when you agree that they have control via the appstore. If you don't like it, don't buy the device until they change it; or buy it and jailbreak it (but be aware of the consequences as well).

    Apple is fully within their rights to decide they want the appstore to sell ONLY applications designed for people age 8 and under. You know it when you buy the device (and if you don't, isn't that your responsibility too? being educated about your purchases?). App developers agree to it when they obtain the license that allow them to develop for the devices. You always have the choice to go with a different product. (Such as blackberry... no restrictions on what you can install, tens of thousands of compatible j2me apps. They have an appworld that's growing daily, but you're not required to use it to install software. I believe Android fits this bill too? )

    A company that is exercising the rights that its customers and developers willingly cede to it is not censorship.

    Commence downmodding.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @01:53PM (#31247004) Journal
    I find it irksome that people have such an impoverished understanding of how censorship works.

    Yes, the sort of censorship where a government bureaucrat with a slightly sinister mustache uses the threat of state violence to control your speech is the most extreme and severe form. And, if you simply must, you are free to assert that this is the only "true censorship". You can then go on to assert that anything else isn't "real" censorship, and anything that has some link to a contractual relationship, no matter how tenuous the link or adhesive the contract, is happy and voluntary and not at all censorship. Hurray, hurray!

    However, and this part is important: Censorship is evil and dangerous in two distinct respects: The first is that it involves the illegitimate use(or threat of use) of violence for coercive ends. The second is that it distorts a society's flow of information in whatever direction is favored by the powerful and the incumbents. Since both democracies and free markets depend on informed actors, this is a major practical problem(and, of course, vibrant cultures arguably depend on the ability of individuals to express themselves without constraint).

    It is true that the various forms of "censorship lite" practiced by the private sector(and some aspects of the public sector, through subtler than armed force means) possess relatively little of the first respect(though, unless you have ample resources, private sector use of lawsuits and contracts of adhesion to secure your silence can be unpleasantly close to coercive force). However, these forms of censorship possess the second respect to an enormous degree, likely greater than that of state censorship in all but the most repressive societies. The majority of controls over access to, and expression of, information faced by the people of any moderately free society are private sector. Many of them are, at least ostensibly, voluntary to some degree. Nevertheless, they have an effect.

    Police-state censorship is evil; but dramatic and(in the more or less free world) relatively rare. The creeping death-by-a-thousand-cuts of the private sector, with its arbitration clauses, cryptographic controls, content filters, lawsuit threats, media ownership consolidation and so on and so forth is where the vast majority of information landscape distortion is happening. It is subtle, and most of it can be rationalized as "voluntary" with enough jesuitical hair-splitting about contracts; but that makes it no less dangerous.
  • by copponex ( 13876 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @01:54PM (#31247008) Homepage

    Censorship is when a third party prevents you from reading or viewing or watching content that you want to. In this case, Apple is the arbiter of their own app store for their own devices, and you know when you buy it that they get to choose what you do and do not have access to in the app store. It may be stupid and petty and lazy and a general sign of their incompetence, but that's not the same thing as censorship.

    If Apple prevented you from viewing sexy items on the internet in general, then that would be censorship. This is more akin to a quickie mart that stops carrying Hustler. There are still other places to get Hustler.

    (Side note: this is a good and valid argument for markets and competition. Where Apple fails, you can choose another vendor. In the market for tablet devices, the worst outcome is that you were swindled out of several hundred dollars. You just need slight regulation to make sure they don't catch fire or hand out your bank information out of the box.)

  • by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @01:54PM (#31247018)
    Apple isn't known for letting the market decide. They are control freaks. Their behavior in regard to the App Store is totally unreasonable, and it is going to kill the App Store. They need to learn to "Think Different". Assholes.
  • by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @01:56PM (#31247044) Journal

    Unless of course, the App was only for the iPhone, and it was accessible at one point. Now it is not. Thus, Apple is the third party, restricting you from accessing something you once could. Yes?

  • by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @02:00PM (#31247112)

    Oddly, porn is illegal in some jurisdictions. Were I giving an i-something to a 14 year old boy, I think I'd like to have a bit of control over what that boy's watching if he's my child, and my responsibility. Eventually, he might break out of whatever limits are imposed, but that's his initiative, and mine as a parent.

    Once he's matured, I'd say he has the right to do what he wants. Most men consumer porn. Most boys should not.

    That Apple is having a hard time with dividing who and what's acceptable is the tough choice that all content providers have to figure out. Stereotyping Apple users as latte-sucking neo-poofs is pretty droll. Some work pretty damn hard for a living, just like Windows and Linux machine users. Superficial observations suits few purposes.

  • by perlchild ( 582235 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @02:05PM (#31247204)

    They are inconsistent is that an approved app should stay approved until the app itself changes to make a reevaluation of its status necessary.

    It's like if your local authority decided to revoke your driver's license while you're driving the car, and then fines you for driving without a license.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @02:07PM (#31247230)

    You can do whatever the hell you want with your iPhone. Make it a doorstop or a suppository. Apple is under no obligation to sell apps that you want. You're under no obligation to buy an iPhone or even to not jailbreak the one you have.

    Here's a belabored car analogy: Ford is under no obligation to sell truck balls. Even if they were to start selling them, they could stop at any time. They can even void your warranty if you attach third-party truck balls. Don't like it? Don't buy a Ford or take complete responsibility for the machine.

  • Please... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fishbulb ( 32296 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @02:07PM (#31247236)

    The only people up in arms are sleazy dudes out to make a quick buck off of someone else's boobies.

    They've had their day and nothing of value has been lost.

  • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionary.yahoo@com> on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @02:25PM (#31247554) Journal

    Apple allows Big Content to put up porn apps, just not little publishers, so your explanation doesn't really stand up to scrutiny.

  • by jDeepbeep ( 913892 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @02:28PM (#31247604)

    and it is going to kill the App Store.

    You know, people keep saying that, and yet, they hit 1 billion+ downloads so far in nine months (if their numbers are to be trusted). So, in a way, I'm finding it harder and harder to agree that their formula isn't viable. It seems to be doing fine. Is that because ($JOE_END_USER.cares() == false)? Yeah probably. But I'm not worried for their success. It seems unavoidable.

  • by UnanimousCoward ( 9841 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @02:29PM (#31247616) Homepage Journal

    If "China like rules" means banning political things, the P is right.

    If it means throwing people into jail, the GP is right.

    Let's define things like mud^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hclearly.

  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @02:33PM (#31247692)

    America is full of prudes. Compare with a well know Finnish company.

    http://store.ovi.com/content/17993 [ovi.com]


  • by Duradin ( 1261418 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @02:33PM (#31247696)

    As an Apple app store consumer I will say that these boobie apps (along with all the "points" apps for all the mafia wars clones) are basically unwanted spam to me. They make the app store less appealing to use since they clutter the place up.

    Perhaps if the "devs" were less spammy about their 99c collections of images Apple wouldn't have brought the hammer down.

  • by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @02:47PM (#31247920)

    heterosexual male sexuality,

    Well, it's an Apple product; I expect it to be hostile to heterosexual male sexuality.

  • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionary.yahoo@com> on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @02:49PM (#31247954) Journal

    All men masturbate. Some just lie about it. But playing the moral superiority, 'real men don't fantasize' card is such nineteenth century, Victorian ere crap. All the studies I've read show fantasy and masturbation as normal, healthy aspects of human sexuality.

  • Re:Please... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @03:08PM (#31248250)

    The only people up in arms are sleazy dudes out to make a quick buck off of someone else's boobies.

    They've had their day and nothing of value has been lost.

    So all the apps that were pulled for collateral damage are nothing important? (See above post for the Bikini seller that had the app pulled - and that wasn't the only one)

    Also compare this with Apples statement when questioned over why SI and Playboy didn't have their apps pulled - "Because they were established brands". So Old porn is good, but new porn is not???

    Or what about the "iWobble boobs" (or whatever it was called - and yep terrible juvenile name) which didn't supply content - you had to download and add your own content. That is like last year when the eBook reader was not approved because you could download the Karma Sutra

    I can understand why some people want to remove some lower common denominator apps from the App store, but the heavy handed manner in which Apple did this does smack of censorship, and they had to be aware of what they were doing

  • by computational super ( 740265 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @03:11PM (#31248312)
    That doesn't make it not censorship, poindexter, that just makes it not unconstitutional. You are capable of comprehending the difference, right?
  • by BrambleThorn ( 1493939 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @03:21PM (#31248480)
    So you're not "married/dating/interestedindating" and you think that masterbation is unhealthy. So either you're a woman, your balls are locked away somewhere, or you're engaging in some rather unhealthy sexual activities yourself. Whichever it is, good luck with all that!
  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @03:31PM (#31248714)
    Without all those porn apps, even Apple hardware isn't that sexy. :P
  • Hey, if I had mod points I'd mod this flamebait, and I'm taking it. I'm a woman and I DON'T THINK masturbation is unhealthy. Watch what you say.

    There's one point I concur with the controversial post here. I have the feeling that youngsters actually search for porn more actively than adults, since adults have access to it easily (I'm not going to say 'boys' cause girls do it too [you don't believe me?]). Now, I'm not a parent, but I'm kind of sure I wouldn't freak out if my teenager watched porn. As long as he doesn't start treating (wo)men like they do in porn. If anything, teach kids fantasy from reality. That solves a lot of problems.
  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @03:43PM (#31248972)
    Oh, well if YOU don't want the app then clearly no one ever would and Apple is right to remove it.
  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @03:51PM (#31249146) Homepage Journal

    I don't have a problem with saying you do not like this policy.
    You have every right to not like this policy but.
    It isn't a violation of your rights.
    It isn't censorship.
    It isn't immoral.
    And don't buy an iPhone then complain about how your rights are being violated.
    Those are all just silly.

    Censorship is when the government controls what you can and can not publish.

    Is a book publisher choosing to not publish a book because it is bad censorship?
    Not at all.
    That is a choice the company makes. Drop using things like censorship and rights about what can and can not go into the app store.
    Now if apple every uses the DMCA to take down jailbreaks then you may use the terms censorship and rights without a single complaint from me. Heck I will even chime in on your side.

  • by Tharsman ( 1364603 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @04:11PM (#31249492)
    I actually am confused about this, when they added parental controls they should had been able to just flag these as "not opt for minors" and prevent them from downloading on iPhones with parental controls enabled...
  • by GaryPatterson ( 852699 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @04:24PM (#31249708)

    I find your post a bit odd.

    When was the app store about making money for Apple?

    It was always about selling iPhones and iPod Touches (and soon iPads).

    The 30% that Apple gets really is meant to cover costs. When the App Store launched, a number of real developers (ie people with retail software behind them, not just /. posters) mentioned that they spent anywhere between 20 to 40% on those costs, so were generally happy with Apple taking 30% to handle them.

    What's more odd about your post is that you don't think that billions of downloads doesn't equate to success. Apple's devices are flying off the shelves, customers have a lot of choice and are clearly happy to use the store.

  • by Dracil ( 732975 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @04:38PM (#31249902)

    The first thing they could do is not file a Creationism app under Education: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/answers-in-genesis/id353046149?mt=8 [apple.com]

  • by BobMcD ( 601576 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:13PM (#31250436)

    Because Apple is all about end-user choice?

  • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @06:48PM (#31252022)
    You are in a very small minority, and most women who label themselves as feminist would disagree with you. It doesn't matter that you are right and they are wrong. They have co-opted your label, and have twisted it to mean something very different than what you want it to mean. Much like a strange group of meat eaters have co-opted the term vegetarian, and have twisted it's meaning to something very different than what it once meant. Actual vegetarians had to come up with a new term, Vegan, to describe themselves, and even that term is currently losing it's meaning as the fake vegetarians try to co-opt vegan also. Actual feminists must do the same, or live with the fact that they are unintentionally telling people they are man hating female chauvinist pigs.

    So, it isn't that the previous poster has been listening to the craziest people who shout the loudest. It is just that he may have never met a woman that thinks women should be treated as people, no less (or more) than a man. He has very likely met huge numbers of women, that call themselves feminists, and think that feminist means women should be treated as more than men.
  • Re:Please... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by syousef ( 465911 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @07:15PM (#31252350) Journal

    Really don't care about porn. As you said it's abundant for those who want it. But a developer building an app, having it approved, then having the rugged pulled from under them. That I care about. I don't care if it's one vendor or even one sick sad 30 year old still living in his mum's basement.

Solutions are obvious if one only has the optical power to observe them over the horizon. -- K.A. Arsdall