Amnesty International is calling on the Turkmenistani authorities to immediately lift the suspension of the operation of the country's largest mobile phone service provider until arrangements can be made to provide an alternative service enabling
them to access independent news sites.
Earlier this week, the authorities suspended the operation of the privately-owned and Moscow-based service provider, Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), leaving around 2.5 million people, half of the country's population and 80% of the mobile phone-users,
suddenly unable to use their mobile phones or access the internet.
With their arbitrary actions the Turkmenistan authorities are severely restricting communications within the country and with the outside world, said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Programme Director: This measure will
unlawfully interfere with correspondence and violate the right of many people in Turkmenistan to receive and impart information in breach of international human rights standards.
Meanwhile, MTS users are left with no choice but to buy the services of Altyn Asyr, the state-owned service provider, which blocks access to independent news sites and the websites of opposition groups.
According to The Mac Observer, Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet isn't too happy with Apple's App Store repressive policies regarding nudity.
In a series of recently published editorials, the newspaper takes issue with Apple banning the Ekstra Bladet iPhone and iPad app because of their Page 9 Girl, a nude photograph of a woman they have been publishing for 34 years.
Accusing Apple of double standards and acting like an American nanny , the paper's Heine Jørgensen writes that he can't understand why they would ban something seen by Danes as an innocent Danish institution on par with The
Google has announced a new manadatory ratings system for its Android Market.
It is a self-rating system for apps developers with the usual user flagging if somebody would like to dispute the self rating.
There are four levels to content ratings:
Alcohol, Tobacco and Drugs
Apps that include references to drugs, alcohol or tobacco products or their use should be rated Teen or above. Apps that focus on the consumption or sale of drugs, alcohol or tobacco should be rated Mature . Illegal activity or
content that is targeted at minors is not allowed in Android Market.
Apps with gambling themes or that include simulated gambling should be rated Teen or above. Real gambling is not allowed in Android Market.
Hate speech is not allowed in Android Market. If your app includes inflammatory content that may be offensive to many users, please rate it Teen or above.
Applications rated All should not ask users for their location at any point. Apps that ask to access course or fine location data should be rated Pre-Teen or above. Apps that enable users to publish or share their location with
others should be rated Teen or above.
Profanity and Crude Humor
Apps that include profanity or crude humor should be rated Teen or above.
Sexual and Suggestive Content
Apps that include suggestive or sexual references should be rated Teen or above. Apps that focus on such content should be rated Mature . Pornography is not allowed in Android Market.
User Generated Content and User to User Communication
Apps rated All should not host any user generated content or enable communication between users. Apps that focus on allowing users to find and communicate with each other should be rated Teen or above.
Apps that include mild cartoon or fantasy violence should be rated Pre-Teen or above. Realistic or intense fantasy violence should be rated Teen or above. Graphic violence should be rated "Mature". Gratuitous real violence is not
allowed in Android Market.
Research In Motion (RIM) faces a ban of BlackBerry data services in Turkey if it doesn't comply with new legislation, requiring all manufacturers to hand over communication encryption keys to authorities.
Under the newly passed law, the country's Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK), will collect the encryption algorithms and encryption keys from every hardware provider wanting to provide encrypted telecommunications
capabilities for its devices.
The new regulations aim at combating terrorism and try to make it possible for the country's national security agency to tap into any communications.
According to Turkish Press, BlackBerry is the only smartphone with encryption enabled by default on the local market and RIM is expected to provide BTK with the necessary codes as soon as possible.
A ban will prove problematic for the 400,000 BlackBerry users in Turkey, which include top company executives and some of the country's most influential businessmen.
RIM maintains that it cannot comply with such requests, at least as far as the corporate email is concerned, because it doesn't have the keys. For this service, encryption is achieved between smartphones and BlackBerry Enterprise Servers (BES)
operated by companies, in which case RIM serves only as carrier of the encrypted data.
India has backed off from a threat to ban popular services on Blackberry devices, amid growing global concern over access to encrypted information.
The Ministry of Home Affairs said that Research in Motion Ltd., the Canadian maker of the smart phones, has agreed to an interim arrangement for lawful interception of Blackberry messenger services an instant messaging application and pledged
to provide a final solution by January. Accordingly, the ... services will continue to be available, the ministry said in a statement.
RIM, whose competitive edge rests on ensuring security to its global users, has given no details of the possible concessions that led the UAE and India to back off from their October deadlines for access. RIM said it had not changed the security
architecture for corporate e-mail and that it does not make special deals on access with individual countries.
BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) has won a reprieve on the threat of a blackout on its 500,000 smartphone users in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), just days before security agencies were due to enforce a ban on email, messaging and web
browsing on the devices.
After months of standoff between the Gulf and Canada, the UAE telecommunications regulator has said that RIM had brought its devices into line with strict local jurisdictions on security and encryption. Although the details of the compromise are
unknown, RIM is thought to have granted some access to communications passed between devices to the UAE government, though there is no confirmation of this from either side.
RIM has publicly maintained a defiant position, insisting that there would be no changes in the security measures given to its Enterprise customers, who are usually private companies and public bodies granted a greater level of encryption on
communication than individual customers.
The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority on Friday said: All Blackberry services in the UAE will continue to operate as normal and no suspension of service will occur .
A university professor in UAE, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the Guardian: The general opinion amongst the business expat community, westerners at least, has been for some time now that [the ban] wasn't going to happen. Call it a
failure of imagination on their part, but no one could conceive of how the country could do something so counterproductive to the image they are trying to present primarily to the west.
Was it posturing? To some extent. The tradition of haggling here is an art form, the performance-value a joy in itself. That attitude certainly informed the government position vis-a-vis RIM gamesmanship, brinksmanship, it's what people do
here. And, frankly, those making the decisions had little to lose, personally.
Italy's tourism minister has demanded that Apple remove the supposedly offensive What Country app from its online store after the travel guide described the Italy as the home of pizza, the Mafia and scooters .
The application, which can be downloaded to iPhones, iPads and iPods, characterises each nation with words and images; Italy is summed up with a road sign which reads Mafia parking only .
Britain is characterised by tea, weird sense of humour, football hooligans and rain , while Germany is summed up with beer, discipline and autobahns . China is reduced to overpopulation, kung fu, Great Wall, Tibet and tea
ceremony , while the most defining characteristics of the US are melting pot, hamburger and the American dream .
The tourism minister, Michela Vittoria Brambilla, condemned the app as an affront to Italians' dignity, describing it as offensive and unacceptable .
She instructed government lawyers to take legal action against Apple and demanded that the application be removed from its iTunes online store.
Italy is a beacon in the world for its history, culture and style. I cannot allow our country to be discredited by having it represented by a criminal organisation, the minister said: For this reason I have asked Apple to withdraw the
application from sale on its online site and asked the state attorney's office to take legal action against those responsible for it.
The application is described on the iTunes website as a light- hearted and funny view of the world. This is not a travel guide and should not be taken too seriously. Enjoy and have fun!
Developers of email, instant-messaging and voice-over-internet-protocol applications would be forced to redesign their services so their contents can be intercepted by law enforcement agents armed with legal wiretap orders under federal
legislation reported by The New York Times.
The legislation would, among other things, require cellphone carriers, websites and other types of service providers to have a way to unscramble encrypted communications traveling over their networks, the report said. It specifically mentions
companies such as Research in Motion and Skype, which are popular in part because their cellular communications and VoIP services respectively are widely regarded as offering robust encryption that's impractical if not impossible for government
agents to crack.
Under the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act, phone and broadband service providers are required to have the technical means in place to eavesdrop on their subscribers. But it doesn't apply to communication service providers, which
often offer strong end-to-end encryption services that make it infeasible for them to intercept traffic even through it travels over their networks.
Under a draft bill expected to be submitted to the US Congress when it convenes next year, such services would have to be redesigned, according to the report. Foreign-based providers that do business inside the US would also have to install a
domestic office capable of performing intercepts, it said.
Microsoft has released the final version of its Windows Phone Developer Tools, giving developers the green light to start working on apps for the new Windows Phone Marketplace. The Marketplace will launch in October, Microsoft says -- the
same month the first Windows Phone 7 devices are expected to debut.
Here are some of the more censorial restrictions from Microsoft's Windows Phone Marketplace guidelines:
Not allowed: sex/nudity -- images that are sexually suggestive or provocative. The document goes on to name a lot of specific stuff, including n ipples and pubic hair.
Not allowed: content that a reasonable person would consider to be adult or borderline adult content.
Not allowed: content that generally falls under the category of pornography.
Not allowed: realistic or gratuitous violence, including depictions of ... decapitation, impaling, blood splatter/blood spurting/blood pooling, or ... guns/weapons pointed toward user/audience.
Blackberry phones have a reputation for security, and are therefore commonly used by journalists concerned they or their sources could be at risk of government or criminal surveillance. What should journalists working under these conditions
make of these new developments? Will their online security be diminished?
There have been persistent reports that BlackBerry's maker, RIM, has faced pressure to placate security services in India and Saudi Arabia.
Can journalists still depend on it for secure communications?
Judging from all the evidence, the answer depends on where you obtained your BlackBerry. BlackBerrys are sold either directly to individual consumers by mobile companies, or provisioned by corporate (or government) IT departments as the mobile
extension of their own, private, messaging systems.
If you have been issued a BlackBerry by your employer, or use it to access company mail via what RIM calls a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), the security of your device is in the hands of your employer, not RIM. Companies are worried about
snooping, too, so RIM has purposefully secured its enterprise offerings so that not even RIM can spy on their traffic. As a side effect, this means communication is almost certainly secure from government interception, even if those governments
require RIM to keep its servers in their control. If you feel you are in a vulnerable position, and use a corporate BlackBerry, speak to your IT department about its security.
If you have a consumer BlackBerry bought from a mobile phone company, you do not have the protection of RIM's corporate security system. Locating RIM servers in these countries (as many of them have demanded) would give the local authorities the
ability to straightforwardly intercept all but SSL/TLS (https) Web traffic, and would allow local law enforcement to obtain access to stored e-mail.
One common service used by both enterprise and consumer BlackBerry owners is PIN-to-PIN messaging, the feature that allows BlackBerry owners to send free messages to any other BlackBerry user. PIN-to-PIN has the strongest reputation for
privacy. Unfortunately, while it is certainly harder to intercept than SMS (text) messages, the encoding system that RIM uses to send PIN messages can theoretically be decoded.
In summary: if you're a journalist using an enterprise BlackBerry given to you by your employer for work purposes, you are probably well-protected from casual interception (although you should never depend on the inviolability of your
communication systems). If you are using a consumer BlackBerry, do not presume to be any better protected from surveillance than someone using an ordinary mobile phone.
The Indian government has lifted a threat to block certain BlackBerry communication services following moves by the technology firm Research in Motion that could allow the country's security authorities greater access to snoop on messages.
Stepping back from the brink of a crackdown, India's ministry of home affairs said RIM had made certain proposals for lawful access by law enforcement agencies and these would be operationalised immediately . It did not offer any detail on
Following RIM's apparent concessions, the Indian government said today the situation would be reviewed in 60 days' time. It added that the country's telecoms ministry was examining whether all the subcontinent's BlackBerry communications could be
routed through a server physically located in India.
India has toughened its scrutiny of telecoms firms with a directive demanding access to everything .
An Indian Home Ministry official told the BBC that any company with a telecoms network should be accessible . It could be Google or Skype, but anyone operating in India will have to provide data, he said.
The move follows high-profile talks with Blackberry maker Research in Motion about ways to allow Indian security forces to monitor data.
The government is also likely to target virtual private networks, which give secure access to company networks for employees working away from their offices.
The war in Indonesia over the available of pornography on mobile devices has resulted in Communication and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring threatening to kick BlackBerry out of the country. He wants parent company Research in Motion (RiM)
to agree to block all porn from the devices.
The minister has said that he had communicated to RiM his wishes, but has yet to receive a reply.
If they are still not responding to our request, we have to close it down, Tifatul said, adding, RIM may violates our law if it remains providing porn content in its service [in Indonesia].
Earlier this month, Titaful urged RiM to set up servers in the country. The servers were needed, he claimed, in order to perform wiretaps in crime cases, bringing in non-tax revenue for the country and reducing service charges for customers. They
would also make it much easier for the government to block porn locally.
Apple has already gone ahead and blocked any and all access to the jailbreak website Jailbreakme.com from wifi routers at its retail stores, as has BestBuy. The iPhone maker has also provided a fix for the PDF exploit that made jailbreaking iOS
devices such an easy task. But now it seems that an even bigger step has been taken to prevent any jailbreaking for devices still on 4.0.1. UK carrier 3 has put an IP block on the website Jailbreakme.com, making it impossible to do a simple
jailbreak using your wireless data connection.
The website was made with only good intentions in mind and does not do anything other than add the Cydia app store to your home screen.
The Australian Labor Party has flagged it will extend state censorship to smart phone games and applications
It has emerged that thousands of smartphone games and applications are being sold or distributed without going through a classification check, supposedly in contravention of the National Classification Scheme.
The largest distributor of smartphone applications, Apple, is accused of bypassing millions of dollars in fees, as classification fees range from $470 to $2040 for computer games, costing the government revenue.
More than 220,000 applications, most of them trivial, are available in Australia for download.
At a conservative estimate, one-third of them are games, suggesting compliance costs would be in the millions. Of course in reality any attempt to impose such censorship fees would keep the vast majority off the market.
A spokeswoman for Minister of Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor said he was concerned about the classification of games playable on mobile telephones and had put the wheels in motion to address this with his state and territory counterparts .
Definitions of computer games under the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 do not exclude games distributable or playable on mobile phones. At the May meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General, it was
requested that the classification of mobile phone games be considered out of session.
Playboy boss Hugh Hefner has agreed that iPad issues of the magazine will be nudity free, in order to keep its place on the App Store.
The legendary art pamphlet currently costs £3.20 per issue on the App Store, but in order to adhere to Apple's nutter stance, centrefolds with girls wearing nothing more than a staple, will be replaced with headshots.
Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry, is headed for a showdown with the Indian government, which has revived a threat to shut off service in the country in a row over access to customers' emails.
India has toughened its position in the wake of reports that RIM has agreed to give the government of Saudi Arabia access to some of the codes with which BlackBerry customer data is encrypted when it passes across the Canadian firm's server
A string of emerging markets governments have been demanding RIM provide additional co-operation with their police and security services to allow snooping of email and instant message traffic, in the name of national security.
India's home ministry has summoned the country's telecoms operators to a meeting today to discuss access to their BlackBerry users' data, and is expected to demand a deadline for RIM to share encryption details, with the threat of a suspension of
some services if the deadline is not met. A senior government official told Reuters that the operators could be told to shut down RIM's corporate email and messenger services temporarily as a last resort. If they cannot provide a solution,
we'll ask operators to stop that specific service, the source said. The service can be resumed when they give us the solution.
India may shut down Google and Skype Internet-based messaging services over security concerns, the Financial Times reported.
The Financial Times quoted from the minutes of a July 12 meeting between telecommunication ministry security officials and operator associations to look at possible solutions to intercept and monitor encrypted communications.
There was consensus that there more than one type of service for which solutions are to be explored. Some of them are BlackBerry, Skype, Google etc, according to the department's minutes. It was decided first to undertake the issue of
BlackBerry and then the other services.
India has set an August 31 deadline for RIM. It wants access in a readable format to encrypted BlackBerry communication, on grounds it could be used by militants. Pakistani-based militants used mobile and satellite phones in the 2008 Mumbai
attacks that killed 166 people.
Officials say RIM had proposed tracking emails without sharing encryption details, but that was not enough.
RIM Blackberry services have been restored in Saudi Arabia, reports say.
The authorities object to the devices because they operate an encrypted message service meaning that communication from Blackberry devices cannot be monitored.
The BBC's Ben Thompson, in Dubai, said that there are conflicting reports about why the handsets are currently working again.
Services are up and running again across the country, he confirmed: But inevitably, that raises more questions than it answers. If RIM did grant Saudi Arabia access to its security codes, other countries in the region would now expect
RIM has been contacted by the BBC. In a statement earlier this week a spokesperson for the company said that the devices were deliberately designed to prevent anybody from accessing individual message data, which is stored on servers in Canada:
RIM cannot accommodate any request for a copy of a customer's encryption key, since at no time does RIM, or any wireless network operator or any third party, ever possess a copy of the key. [Then how do they so
easily seem to be conceding snooping rights to India and Saudi?]
The authorities in the UAE are making very public noises about RIM's BlackBerry smartphones. Apparently they're a threat to national security.
The United Arab Emirates Telecommunications Regulatory Authority noted that BlackBerrys operate beyond national jurisdiction because their core mechanism for delivering email is operated and managed by a non-Dubai company. The main concern
is simple: In their current form BlackBerrys enable all sorts of communications tricks that could have serious social, judicial and national security repercussions.
Data from BlackBerrys in UAE goes through RIM computers in the United Kingdom. That is so RIM can compress the data to speed up transfers and so that RIM can bundle it to lower the impact on battery life, and so that RIM can encrypt and secure
the data for corporate management reasons.
The TRA also had a veiled threat in these statements--the words current form in particular imply that the TRA may force RIM to modify its hardware or software in the future.
iChatr is the iPhone Chatroulette clone. It has predictably been removed from the App Store due to the behavior of several naked users.
It was probably inevitable that Apple -- with its nutter mission to offer app store users freedom from porn -- would find something objectionable about an app known as a way for voyeurs to expose themselves.
SKJM, the developer of iChatr, is currently discussing a solution to the problem with Apple.
As Apple's iPhone grows in popularity, technology experts and US law enforcement agencies are devoting increasing efforts to understanding their potential for forensics investigators. While police have always tracked mobile users by locating
their position via conventional mobile phone towers, iPhones offer far more information, say experts.
There are a lot of security issues in the design of the iPhone that lend themselves to retaining more personal information than any other device, said Jonathan Zdziarski, who teaches US law enforcers how to retrieve data from mobile
Zdziarski told The Daily Telegraph he suspected that security had been neglected on the iPhone as it had been intended as a consumer product rather than a business one like rivals such as the Blackberry.
An example was the iPhone's keyboard logging cache, which was designed to correct spelling but meant that an expert could retrieve anything typed on the keyboard over the past three to 12 months, he said.
In addition, every time an iPhone's internal mapping system is closed down, the device snaps a screenshot of the phone's last position and stores it.
Investigators could access several hundred such images from the iPhone and so establish its user's whereabouts at certain times, he said.
In a further design feature that can also help detectives, iPhone photos include so-called geotags so that, if posted online, they indicate precisely where a picture was taken and the serial number of the phone that took it.
Apple's iconic 1984 commercial, in which it depicted itself as the face of freedom, taking down Big Brother has become a little ironic.
In a new announcement, Apple have said that they will be watching idevice owners' every move. It seems unlikely that the accusation that Apple has become Big Brother will go away anytime soon.
Customers have the option to opt in, but Apple is reportedly punishing those who decline to accept the checkbox sort of privacy agreement. According to the LA Times, Until they agree, they cannot download anything through the [iTunes]
store. That means no apps, music, or iBooks (from Apple) for those who opt out.
The company says there's no harm in letting it follow your every move. It says it will largely use the information for internal purpose such as MobileMe, the Find My iPhone app, and targeted advertising. It will also share the info with
third-party app-makers who are looking to create location aware apps like social networking services or tweets.
Customers do have the option to prevent third-party apps from collecting location data, which can be found under the Location Services page under Settings-->General on the iPad/iPhone. Still, this does not prevent Apple from collecting
and using information internally for its own purposes, including advertising. Given Apple's language it is likely that the company does intend to collect and use this data, even when users disallow apps to access it.
For now, Apple users must face the music and decide whether they want to keep using their products and let Apple track them. As the classic Police song I'll Be Watching You goes, Oh, cant you see; You belong to me... Every move you
make... Ill be watching you.
how the new terms don't run afoul of Section 222 of the Federal Communications Act, which prohibits the sharing of customer location information without the permission of the user.
It is our understanding that Apple's consumers cannot use newly-purchased iPads, iPhones, Apple computers or purchase products for existing Apple products from the iTunes music store unless they accept the revised terms and conditions and
include agreeing to the collection and sharing of geographical location data, they wrote: Given the limited ability of Apple users to opt out of the revised policy and still be able to take advantage of the features of their Apple
products, we are concerned about the impact the collection of such data could have on the privacy of Apple's customers.
An Apple employee (call him Alpha ) who works in the iPhone Development Department has leaked some information to us recently, most of which will come as a surprise to many. The amount of shocking information leaked is beyond the grasp of
an individual and shows how far Apple and AT&T will go to lock their users and steal their information while they have no clue about it.
First off, we will divide the leaks into different topics in order of the communication that took place.
With iOS 4, AT&T locks all US iPhone owners to their network via regular OTA updates.
AT&T shipped some iPhone 4 early to verify their OTA update system.
Apple stealing user information via WiFi video call facility, FaceTime, which lacks encryption.
Some Apple employees who are aware of this situation are not updating to iOS 4.
The latest bad apple story was the blocking of an iPad graphic novel adaptation of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest . According to a report in The Big Money, the application was barred from the App Store until its author added
ugly black blocks to censor the illustrations of men kissing (which included depictions of mens' buttocks, but no frontal nudity). We've just gotten word from Apple that they've reversed the decision (they claim it was a mistake) and that the
application's developers can resubmit the graphic novel in its original form.
The news comes on the heels of a very similar situation involving a comic adaptation of the classic epic Ulysses called Ulysses Seen , which was blocked from the App Store until its authors removed some illustrated nudity featured
in the comic. Apple also reversed that block.
Apple spokesprat Trudy Muller explained: We made a mistake. When the art panel edits of the Ulysses Seen app and the graphic novel adaptation of Oscar Wilde's Importance of Being Earnest app were brought to our attention, we offered the
developers the opportunity to resubmit their original drawings and update their apps.
The Sun finally launched its iPhone app after an embarrassing wait of more than a month following Apple's initial refusal to accept it.
It fell foul of the company's ludicrous anti-obscenity rules because its Page 3 girls were regarded as too rude. But the paper was granted an exemption because downloading requires customers to confirm that they are 17 or over since the app
'contains age-restricted material' .
Microsoft has announced a new set of policies that will be used for the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace.
Just as with the Windows Mobile Marketplace, no porn or sexually suggestive content is allowed.
Microsoft still hasn't committed to offering any alternative way of loading applications. Businesses wanting their own privately developed, privately deployed software will still have to go via Marketplace. Their programs will still be private,
but as things stand, there won't be any mechanism for cutting out the middleman.
According to Business Insider, a number of fashion magazines are now having to clean up their content in order to get them approved and into Apple's App Store. Dazed and Confused , a British fashion magazine, has even dubbed its
iPad issue the Iran edition because of the strict no nudity rules they must follow.
A report from SFGate covers three distinct standards currently in place at the iTunes Store:
Small, independent developers are not allowed to include any overtly sexual content . This includes pictures of women in bathing suits.
Magazines with established brands Sports Illustrated and Playboy, for instance are allowed to depict overtly sexual images of scantily clad women, but aren't allowed to depict actual nudity. Fashion magazines appear to be in this category
Netflix can stream movies to the iPad with whatever content it chooses, including full nudity, graphic depictions of sex, and brutal violence and gore.
Apple have been pandering to the censorial nutters of the Parents Television Council. So perhaps no surprises that the PTC are singing the praises of Apple.
But of course the nutters now think that they get the same level of censorship from other platforms such as Android.
Parents Television Council targeted the App Store earlier this year over concerns that some apps could be accessible to children, that App Store pages had Web links that led to yet more supposedly objectionable content, and that in the case where
Parental Controls were activated, kids could still browse and preview these apps.
Apple ultimately responded by cleaning out a number of these 'contentious' apps and started blocking screenshots in iTunes in addition to the blocks already present in the on-device App Store app.
PTC applauded Apple's actions. Apple has taken a positive first step towards eliminating kids' access to sexually explicit and pornographic content on its product lineup and we applaud the company's efforts, the group's president, Tim
Winter, said in a statement.
PTC now thinks other mobile platforms need to take similar measures.
Steve Jobs recently dinged the Android platform as being a porn phone during Apple's iPhone OS 4.0 unveiling, partly by virtue of its ability to run any app from any source. You know, there's a porn store on Android and it has nothing
but porn apps, Jobs told journalists during a Q&A session. You can download them; your kids can download them.
PTC agrees with Jobs that this is a problem, as no other smartphone platform offers a system like Parental Controls. We plan to draw attention to other platforms, such as Android, or Verizon's Vcast service, that aren't really doing anything,
PTC's Gavin McKiernan told Ars. We definitely want to see progress from some of the other handheld devices.
Apple has rejected, for the second time, the iPhone app Gay New York: 101 Can't-Miss Places , citing objections to images showing too much skin and an irreverent caricature of Sarah Palin.
Gawker reports that Apple believes it has a moral responsibility to censor content developed for the iPhone, but the attempts to filter out images that could not fairly be construed as pornographic smacks of homophobia.
In addition to the Palin poster, the offending images include a man in a thong and a Renaissance painting of a nude male. The author of the app, Forbes and New York Times-contributing freelance travel writer Anthony Grant, says he did his best to
make things PG-13 by, for example, representing a bar called The Cock with an image of a black rooster. However, he has been hard pressed to represent New York's gay male culture without offending Apple's sensibilities.
According to Apple's rejection letter, the offending screenshots (which can be viewed at
Gawker's site ), are objectionable for certain age groups, despite the fact that the app is not available for download by all ages.
Grant says that the rejection is homophobic and discriminatory to the point of hostile and that other apps feature far racier content.
According to iPhone app developer Matt Smyth, his iPhone iSealClub app has been rejected by Apple because it contains objectionable content.
Matt Smyth can't understand why Apple rejected iSealClub: They allow other apps, like Trophy Hunt for bear and deer and whatnot. I don't see the difference between killing a seal and killing a deer .
In iSealClub players use a cartoon club to hunt cartoon seals, but there are limits that make the game a little more tasteful. The game doesn't contain any blood and baby seals are off limits. Smyth, a Newfoundland resident, feels iSealClub was
rejected because the company is against seal hunting, which is socially acceptable in his province and sanctioned by the Canadian government.
Meanwhile PETA was delighted with the decision. Commenting on the official PETA Blog, Jennifer O'Connor had nothing but love for Apple CEO Steve Jobs: We think that Jobs and the rest of the Apple crew are pretty great after learning that the
App Store said no way to an app called iSealClub—a game in which users wield a metal-tipped club and earn points by bashing seals to death.
O'Connor went on to say that PETA would be sending Jobs a thank-you note along with some yummy vegan chocolate seals as a token of appreciation.
Should newspaper editorial cartoonists be banned from drawing cartoons about some selected, famous people? Many believe we should not be allowed to draw the Prophet Muhammad – but how about banning us from drawing Tiger Woods? If Apple has
its way, iPhone users won't see cartoonists commenting about Tiger, and other topics that might ridicule selected public figures.
I distribute my own cartoons, and the work of dozens of other top editorial cartoonists from around the world to newspapers, Web sites and now to Apple's iPhone and iPad. As the audience for news and opinion has grown on the iPhone, we've put
more effort into developing editorial cartoon apps that show all the latest cartoons that the cartoonists draw on different topics. Apple approved our msnbc.com Obama Cartoons app that shows the latest newspaper editorial cartoons drawn
about President Obama, but Apple rejected our app on the topic of Tiger Woods. It seems that Tiger crosses an editorial line at Apple.
When I submitted my first iPhone app, msnbc.com Cartoons , the editors at Apple took three months to consider it, an unusually long time. I'm told it was a difficult decision for them. At that time they also rejected an app called Bobble Rep
by my friend, Mad Magazine cartoonist Tom Richmond, because it contained caricatures of members of congress; after some public outcry, Apple reconsidered and approved Tom's app. Another cartoonist friend, Mark Fiore, had his rejected iPhone
app reconsidered and approved only after he won a Pulitzer Prize for his cartoons. Soon after it was approved, Mark's app became the number one best selling news app on the iPhone. I've asked Apple to reconsider their rejection of our Tiger
Woods Cartoons app, and have gotten no response.
It is chilling to see Apple pick and choose which topics can be discussed in the mediums they control. By positioning itself to control the new methods of delivery for news and opinion, Apple assumes a special responsibility to allow for a full
and free debate on all topics and personalities in the news.
I don't want Apple deciding which public figures I may ridicule.
If the latest e-mail purportedly sent by Apple CEO Steve Jobs to a customer called Matthew Browning is, indeed, genuine, then Apple seems to be reaching for some moral high ground, which may or may not be virtual.
Browning wrote to Jobs because he was concerned that Apple was choosing to become something that I don't remember seeing on The Wire : a moral policeman. Browning worried that Apple's initial blocking of an app by satirical cartoonist,
Mark Fiore, sent a dubious signal. He then went on to discuss Apple's stance on porn.
According to TechCrunch, he wrote: I'm all for keeping porn out of kids hands. Heck--I'm all for ensuring that I don't have to see it unless I want to. But...that's what parental controls are for. Put these types of apps into categories and
allow them to be blocked by their parents should they want to.
The Apple CEO reportedly replied: Fiore's app will be in the store shortly. That was a mistake. However, we do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone. Folks who want porn can buy and (sic) Android phone.
A California political cartoonist was awarded the prestigious Pulitzer Prize this week jogging the memory that Apple's App Store barred his work last December.
Pulitzer Prize–winning cartoonist Mark Fiore submitted his cartoon app NewsToons to the App Store, only to have it rejected. Fiore's sin was a supposed violation of the censorial Apple rule:
Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple's reasonable
judgment may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users.
Perhaps the outcry over Fiore's banning will lead to a turnabout by Apple - after all, winning a Pulitzer Prize is no small achievement, and one that should earn Apple a fresh round of derision.
Bahrain recently banned the use of BlackBerry chat groups citing supposed concerns over the chaos and confusion that would result from sharing and distributing local news through these groups, according to Abdullah Yateem, the Culture
and Information Ministry assistant undersecretary for press and publication.
With this move Bahrain set a precedent in taking legal action against the users of BlackBerry chat groups.
An immediate result of the ministry's action was the suspension of daily news provided by Breaking News , started by Muhannad Sulaiman, a Bahraini journalist, to more than 13,000 BlackBerry subscribers.
The chat groups feature is widely used in Bahrain to deliver a variety of updates ranging from news headlines to political statements. The subscribers to these groups affected by the ban are in the thousands.
BlackBerry chat groups are now required to acquire licensing from the Ministry of Culture and Information before they are allowed to resume operation.
Maybe Apple won't be rolling out explicit categories in the App Store after all, at least not after Steve Jobs' comments at the iPhone OS 4.0 event, where a preview of the latest operating system was previewed.
During a Q&A session, Ryan Block of gdgt asked Jobs whether Apple plans on enabling unsigned applications like Android and Palm OS, and the CEO shocked many people when he answered by blaming porn for the decision not to sanction outside
development. Signed apps are ones that have been approved by Apple for download to iDevices.
There's a porn store for Android, he replied. You can download nothing but porn. You can download porn; your kids can download porn. That's a place we don't want to go – so we're not going to go there.
Jobs was referring to MiKandi, the innovative and increasingly popular facilitator and marketer of Android-based adult apps. In citing porn as the reason for making such an important decision, however, the iconic business leader elicited
The answer — that the iPhone will not allow for unsigned apps — does not come as a surprise, wrote Jason Kincaid for TechCrunch. But Jobs's reasoning behind it was certainly interesting to hear, because it's a clear example of
For years, he continued, iTunes has sold songs with explicit lyrics and movies with graphic nudity. Further, as we've pointed out numerous times, the iPhone comes with Safari. The web has quite a bit of porn on it. Hell, many porn sites
have even launched HTML5 versions that are optimized for the iPhone. Yes, parents can disable access to Safari with parental controls, but Apple could easily add a similar parental control setting to restrict running unsigned applications, too.
After nearly two years of criticism of its censorship of adult content in the iPhone App Store, Apple appears to be gearing up to sell explicit content for both the iPad and the iPhone and iPod touch.
Links to new explicit software categories in iTunes indicate that Apple plans to finally deliver adult content for both the iPad and for existing iPhone OS devices, segregated from other content with parental controls in the same way that
iTunes has long sold music with explicit lyrics.
The system uses the same parental controls preferences (below) that can restrict movies to the MPAA-designated G, PG, PG-13, and R ratings, or TV shows to the broadcaster-initiated TV-Y, TV-Y7, TV-G, TV-PG, TV-14 and TV-MA classifications.
Currently, Apple has its own rating system for App Store software titles, which sets thresholds at 4+, 9+, 12+, and 17+. However, the company has prohibited the sale of software that includes pornography or other adult subject matter, at
times removing titles it deemed obscene.
This policy has attracted widespread criticism due to the fact that adult content is freely available over the web in the iPhone's Mobile Safari browser. Any App Store titles that incorporate an embedded web browser, including Facebook, are
listed as 17+ for this reason, and can potentially display content that is more explicit than Apple allows in native App Store titles.
The International Federation of the Periodical Press (FIPP) is considering making a complaint to Apple over the computer firm's request that German publisher Springer censor the naked girls on one of its iPhone apps.
Springer-owned tabloid Bild's Shake the Bild Girl app allows iPhone users to undress a model. Each time the user shakes the phone, the girl strips an item of her clothing. While Bild features naked women daily in its pages, Apple ruled
that the girls in its iPhone app should wear bikinis.
The Association of German Magazine Publishers (VDZ) asked FIPP last week to approach Apple over the issue. The VDZ chief executive, Wolfgang Fuerstner, has warned that Apple's move might represent a move towards censorship. In an interview with
the German magazine Der Spiegel he said: Publishers can't sell their soul just to get a few lousy pennies from Apple.
Bild Digital CEO Donata Hopfen agreed: Today they censor nipples, tomorrow editorial content.
Apple is stirring up yet another censorship brouhaha with its latest changes to App Store policy.
The company recently began blocking screenshots for apps that are outside the acceptable age range in Parental Controls in iTunes. According to iPhone developer ChiliFresh, it seems that all overtly sexual apps might be expunged from the
App Store too, which is making some users uneasy about Apple's power once again.
Last month developers were notified that all screenshots for the App Store had to be free of objectionable material and be acceptable for a 4+ rating.
Many of the apps in question were essentially collections of racy pictures (some more racy than others), so a screenshot amounted to soft-core porn for some. If they could be made appropriate, they wouldn't show much of the app at all.
Despite these changes, however, it appears Apple intends to purge the App Store of all apps with sexual overtones. Developer ChilliFresh got a notice from Apple that its app Wobble iBoobs was being removed from the App Store due to a policy
change on apps with overtly sexual content. An e-mail from the App Store review team explains the change:
The App Store continues to evolve, and as such, we are constantly refining our guidelines. Your application, Wobble iBoobs (Premium Uncensored), contains content that we had originally believed to be suitable for
distribution. However, we have recently received numerous complaints from our customers about this type of content, and have changed our guidelines appropriately.
We have decided to remove any overtly sexual content from the App Store, which includes your application. Thank you for your understanding in this matter. If you believe you can make the necessary changes so that Wobble
iBoobs (Premium Uncensored) complies with our recent changes, we encourage you to do so and resubmit for review.
Though Apple refrained from commenting on what particular issue may have sparked this policy change, Ars has discovered a campaign by the Parents Television Council that may be at least partly to blame.
An iPhone application that allows users to download speeches by the former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini has been withdrawn. Its developer says he is removing it after legal threats.
The application has also faced protests from Jewish groups and Holocaust survivors who described it as offensive.
IMussolini, as the application is known, has become the most popular iPhone download in Italy. It is a 25-minute collection of video and audio clips from 100 of Mussolini's speeches.
But now it has been withdrawn after a row with the film institute where the pictures came from. The institute says the application is an aberration, far removed from the educational purposes for which the clips should be used.
After taking a long hiatus, trojan dialers that can rack up thousands of dollars in charges are back by popular demand.
According to researchers at CA Security's malware analysis lab, a new wave of malicious dialers is hitting users of mobile phones. The trojans are built on the Java 2 Micro Edition programming language and cause infected handsets to send SMS
messages to high-cost numbers, at great expense to the victim.
As soon as the application is loaded, this malicious software starts to send premium text messages, CA warned. The messages sent out are in the typical format to invoke premium services and land the mobile user with heavy mobile bills
without the user's knowledge and consent.
Apple deleted the 99-cent app from its lineup. The app specializes in viewing image boards on the web and comes preloaded with images of dogs, but with a few adjustments one can customize the app to view nude women.
Apple's censorial Steve Jobs has said that he won't allow the company to distribute porn, malicious apps, apps that invade your privacy.
I made a mistake and I am sorry. Although I expected this to happen, I feel responsible for the fact that ForChan was banned by Apple from the App Store. A couple of days ago I presented you the first full porn app available at the App Store for
the iPhone and iPod Touch. Why do I feel this guilt? Well, because this is not a porn app. We, the media, banned the app from the App Store. It's our fault. We introduced it as a porn app because it can browse galleries from the web, most of them
happening to consist of nude girls.
ForChan shouldn't be banned because it's not a porn app. It met all of Apple's requirements, but the Cupertino-based company banned it because most of the guys there do not contemplate too much on things. Jesus Diaz, Senior Editor at Gizmodo and
one of my favorite tech journalists, says that Apple should ban Safari and Bing from the App Store. I wholeheartedly agree. ForChan allows iPhone users to browser galleries, while Safari and Bing allows users to browse everything including porn.
The only difference is that Safari and Bing contains more porn than ForChan!
naked females on its front page, launched an iPhone application last month which allows paying customers to read a digital version of Bild the night before publication.
Michael Konken, chairman of a German journalists' union, the DJV, said, It's interference in news reporting. That isn't right. You could call it censorship. He said Apple was a mere conduit for data: The provider is like a truck that
transports the content. It's not allowed to dictate the content, he said, echoing criticisms on some liberty-minded German blogs. He said it was up to the courts to decide if content was illegal.
wedge, he said.
A spokesman for Apple Germany, Georg Albrecht, said the company banned apps with content that was pornographic, illegal or in breach of privacy. But he said Apple was not making the precise guidelines public.