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Network censorship by Apple

Everyone who knows me knows I am a Steve Jobs fanboi. I’ve been using Macs since January 1985, and yes, I have an iPhone and I will buy an iPad once I have the cash and they get to a few point upgrades (always a good idea with Apple). I use Keynote for my presentations, and Pages for my books and papers. I can even use some Unix in theTerminal.

So it pains me that the other thing I love most, freedom of expression, is being curtailed by Jobs’ iTunes store for Apps on the iPhone/Pad. No, I don’t care that they are excluding Flash or anyone using a non-standard SDK; that’s their business decision and control over interfaces and software has been a virtue in the Apple world. I mean their decision to censor Apps by content.

Apple; you have, as NPR points out, become the CBS of the early 21st century. You know, the mainstream broadcaster that along with the others used to censor free speech because it failed to meet “network broadcasting standards”, the self-imposed standards of the middle class and the corporations that sold to them in the 1950s. It’s this close to “UnAmerican Activities”. Which, as I recall from the 1984 ad that launched the Mac, was your target. Conformity? There’s an App for that.

Loosen the reins, and make the technical conformity the only thing that iTunes controls. It’s up to the users to decide what they see, hear or play with, not you. Controversy is the stuff of freedom and democracy, so get the hell out of our heads, OK? I guarantee, we will all love you the better for it. And buy more things that will add to the net worth of the corporation.


  1. bob koepp bob koepp

    Amen… And even if Apple’s marketing deparment is right, and the “net worth of the corporation” is best served by censorship, that doesn’t hold a candle to “freedom of expression,” before which even greed must give way.

    • John S. Wilkins John S. Wilkins

      I think that the threat of them losing their fanboi base, which is after all their strength, would be a better motivator than altruism. If they are pissing me off, they have lost a lot of ground already.

  2. Alex Alex

    I agree that this is disturbing, but it is hardly surprising. They do whatever they can to control what hardware you use their software on, where you get third party software and how that software is produced. That they will censor based on content is to be expected.

    If they really cared about freedom they wouldn’t have a problem with hackintoshs, provided you had a valid license . They wouldn’t force you to use their software to access their devices (itunes). They also wouldn’t control the only the only sources of content for some of their devices (app store).

    They don’t care about freedom, if you want computing freedom you will have to go elsewhere.

  3. Arved von Brasch Arved von Brasch

    I can see where they’re coming from. The App Store is essentially seen as being an extension of Apple itself. A free-for-all position would be like walking into the flag ship Sydney Apple store and seeing a giant cross burning with people wearing bed sheets around. Sure that’s free expression, but as it appears to be sanctioned by Apple, that hurts their image.

    On the other hand, I absolutely agree that Apple shouldn’t be in a position that allows them to be guardians of content.

    I think the only long term solution now, is for Apple to bless an ad hoc App distribution method, with the appropriate responsibility taken by those who choose to use such a system. (The main reason Apple hasn’t allowed this to date, is that such a distribution system could allow malicious applications to be available, that could reflect badly on Apple as well.)

  4. Snarkyxanf Snarkyxanf

    I don’t think regulating by content is a good idea for their reputation in several ways.

    Not least is that they have officially accepted blame for everything offensive that does show up, along with blame for censoring that which doesn’t.

    Why do that to yourself?

    My suggestion: keep the App store regulated and shiny, and allow the creation of an app ‘bazaar’: Apple could still demand a cut (reduced) of profit from sale of the applications. Since it won’t be as nicely integrated as the official store, I doubt it’ll get nearly as much traffic, and pose no serious threat to the Apple run store.

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