|26th December |
South Korea look to censor iPhone apps
The growing popularity of the iPhone in Korea may necessitate the rating of App Store game offerings by government censors.
The Korean Herald notes that currently all games in Korea must be approved by the country's Game Rating Board. In deference
to this, the Korean version of the App Store currently does not offer a game category at all, but concern remains over games that could be downloaded from the App Store's entertainment category or from the App Store of other countries.
Korea's Game Rating Board ratings consist of four categories: All (for everyone) 12-year +, 15-year+ and 18+
|23rd December |
Microsoft introduce even more inane app censorship than Apple
Based on article
You can drink a virtual beer on Apple's iPhone through the company's wildly popular App Store, but the same app has been rejected for distribution on Microsoft's answer - Marketplace - because of a self-imposed morals-based content policy.
Microsoft mobile developer marketing director for the Asia Pacific region, Chris Chin, says his company's policy whilst not necessarily family friendly, it is at least acceptable to the public .
These policies have evolved,
they're not quite 'family friendly', more just acceptable to the general public, he says, citing the example of two games. Video Poker, which is on Marketplace but not necessarily family friendly although considered acceptable to the general public.
As opposed to the mobile version of the controversial video game Grand Theft Auto - which is not found in Marketplace. I don't know if that would be accepted but I think probably not, Chin says.
And what about the innocuous virtual iBeer
app? Well. that fell foul of Microsoft's rules on any content deemed to encourage the excessive consumption of alcohol! As for anything remotely sexually titillating, you won't find it anywhere on Microsoft Marketplace. According to the content
guidelines, material considered borderline pornography is banned outright.
Chris Chin says, On iTunes, soft porn ranks highly, Victoria's Secret for example and others. There are some, which are very direct, such as Beautiful Boobs. You
will never find them on Microsoft Marketplace, under the current content policies.
The trouble with this sort of moralising is of course that users, who after alll pay for services they wish to avail themselves of, are denied access to
perfectly legal content because some faceless and unaccountable corporate puritan on a mission to impose censorship decides unilaterally to bar it.
|3rd December |
Adult app opens up possibilities for porn on Android based phones
Based on article from
Where there is no app for that on the iPhone, there now is for porn on the competing Android mobile operating system.
A Seattle-based company named MiKandi (pronounced my candy ) has released an app store specifically geared towards
porn. The application attempts to create a red light district for adult Android apps allowing adult content providers to set up shop within a MiKandi app.
In June 2009 the iPhone app called Hottest Girls snuck by Apple's notoriously fickle
approval process and saw the light of day . . . for a very brief period of time before Apple banned it.
[MiKandi LLC] wanted to find a niche that was not currently being served and adult applications were at the top of the list, Jennifer
McEwen, one of the company's founders, told Good Gear Guide. There are no other adult app stores out there to meet this need of users and developers. So we entered the market with MiKandi to provide value to the mobile application ecosystem.
The developer kit is currently invite-only, but MiKandi plans on an e-mail marketing campaign to get the word out. MiKandi representatives say it has plans to port its app to BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices as well as Java-compatible mobile
phones in early 2010.
|2nd December |
ESRB provides iPhone app to give comprehensive video game age ratings and summaries
Based on press release [pdf]
Download app at www.esrb.org/mobile
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) – which assigns age and content ratings for computer and video games – has developed a free iPhone app giving parents instant, on-the-spot access to its new rating summaries, right at the store when making
decisions about which games to give as gifts.
To educate parents about ratings, rating summaries and the new rating search app, ESRB developed a new series of TV and radio Public Service Announcement (PSA) ads that will begin airing nationwide in
the coming days. Major video game retailers will also air the PSAs in their stores throughout the coming year.
Rating summaries, which are provided by ESRB but are not displayed on game boxes as are the ESRB ratings and content descriptors, give
parents a detailed, straight-forward explanation of the context and relevant content that factored into a game's rating.
ESRB president Patricia Vance said: This new rating search app puts all this information at parents. fingertips when they
need it most, right at the store.
The new rating search app is available for free via the iTunes App Store and offers access to ESRB rating information for over 18,000 titles. Rating summaries are available for all games rated since July 1,
2008, which means that many of the games likely to appear on kids. wish lists this year will have rating summaries.
|24th October |
Pepsi apologises over chat up lines phone app
15th October 2009. From telegraph.co.uk
Pepsi has apologised for releasing an iPhone app that supposedly encouraged men to brag about their sexual conquests.
The AMP UP Before You Score app also provided phone users with chat-up lines for getting lucky with 24 different
types of women.
The software provoked criticism and derision when news of its release broke yesterday, with people complaining that it was sexist and denigrated the status of women.
Thousands of protests were marshalled on Twitter under the
hashtag #pepsifail, prompting the soft drinks giant to issue an apology over the official Twitter feed of AMP Energy, the new drink that the app was released to promote.
Our app tried 2 show the humorous lengths guys go 2 pick up women. We
apologize if it's in bad taste & appreciate your feedback. #pepsifail, the tweet read.
But the company did not promise to withdraw the programme, which is still available to download for free from the App Store. The app's description
encourages users to share the names of their sexual partners with their friends online: Get lucky? Add her to your Brag List. You can include the name, date and whatever details you remembers . Keep your buddies in the loop on email, Facebook
Pepsi's unsophisticated appeal to masculine bravado went down particularly badly with readers of Jezebel, a US blog aimed at women.
Update: Pepsi Creates a
24th October 2009. From business.avn.com
Pepsi has retreated under heavy fire from feminists and finally pulled an iPhone app that they claim stereotypes
women, but not before the firestorm had quieted down and the company felt it had reaped all the benefit it could from the controversy.
It launched Oct. 12 and almost immediately earned the scorn of feminists around the country.
app Twitter campaign was also launched, prompting Pepsi to issue an apology, but it still refused to remove the app from the marketplace, until yesterday.
According to Associated Press, 'There was a lot of online chatter about the application
last week and PepsiCo didn't remove the application then so the talk would continue,' said Kevin Dugan, director of marketing at Empower Media Marketing. He suspects the chatter has died down—in fact, he said he hadn't heard about the application for
days—and that's why PepsiCo removed it. 'The true benefit had been realized by PepsiCo with it generating all that buzz,' he said.
|22nd October |
Australian games censor has his beady eye on iPhone apps
Based on article from
The Australian Classification Board has written to Government expressing concerns that mobile phone applications are being made available in Australia without being subject to a ratings process.
Whilst movies and computer games are subject to
ratings from the Classification Board, the many thousands of games released as mobile apps on smartphone platforms such as the Apple iPhone bypass the process.
I recently wrote to the minister regarding my concern that some so-called mobile
phone applications, which can be purchased online or either downloaded to mobile phones or played online via mobile phone access, are not being submitted to the board for classification, Australia's Classification Board director Donald McDonald told
a Senate Estimates committee in Canberra on Monday.
McDonald made the comment after informing Senators that the Classification Board had recently classified online game World of Warcraft with a rating of M , five years after the game became
available in Australia.
While this is not the first online game to be classified by the board, World of Warcraft is arguably the most popular online game in the world, and the fact that it was not classified attracted industry and media
interest, McDonald said.
Should the Classification Board be asked to rate downloadable mobile applications, the numbers of apps available to Australians on the Apple iTunes store alone would prove overwhelming. According to Apple, there are
over 80,000 applications on its iTunes store - the platform it uses to deliver games and applications to the iPhone.
|10th October |
The mystery of Vodafone's mobile broadband filtering
See article from pcpro.co.uk
|13th August |
Whinging at adult phone ads in computer games magazines
|7th August |
Words fail to describe the ineptitude of Apple's censors
6th August 2009. Based on article from
Apple has rejected a dictionary application, Ninjawords , because it included words Apple deemed inappropriate.
According to an interview by John Gruber with Ninjawords developer Phil Crosby, Apple refused to upload Ninjawords
to the iTunes store until a number of objectionable words had been removed. Besides fuck, shit, and various other four-letter ones, words that Apple ordered eliminated include ass, cock, and screw . Even without these
entries, Ninjawords is still a 17+ application!
Apparently, the English dictionary. As Gruber points out on his blog, we're talking about a reference book available in every classroom in the country. Apple's extraordinarily stringent, and
seemingly arbitrary, process to decide what content is appropriate for iPhone users overreaches the level of authority any company should exercise. The 17+ rating system can and should stand on its own as a tool for parents to police their own
children's application use. With any other censorship, Apple simply insults the maturity and intelligence of its customers.
Update: Spinning Apple
7th August 2009. See
article from daringfireball.net
Phill Schiller, a top bod at Apple,
has replied about the censorship of the Ninjawords application.
Contrary to what you reported, the Ninjawords application was not rejected in the App Store review process for including common “swear” words. In fact anyone can
easily see that Apple has previously approved other dictionary applications in the App Store that include all of the “swear” words that you gave as examples in your story.
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. A quick search on Wiktionary.org easily turns up a number
of offensive “urban slang” terms that you won't find in popular dictionaries such as one that you referenced, the New Oxford American Dictionary included in Mac OS X. Apple rejected the initial submission of Ninjawords for this reason, provided the
Ninjawords developer with information about some of the vulgar terms, and suggested to the developer that they resubmit the application for approval once parental controls were implemented on the iPhone.
Schiller also notes that supposedly
offensive words were removed by the developer so that the application could be sold before the introduction of a 17+ parental control feature. The developer could have sold the app 17+ uncut if he had waited for the 17+ parental control facility roll
Of course Apple are sill censorial ratbags if they thing that young people have to wait until they are 17 just to read about vulgar terms in a dictionary.
|13th July |
China refuses to allow Wi-Fi capability for iPhones
Based on article from
After drawn out negotiations with China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Apple has conceded and filed an application to officially sell its best-selling iPhone without wi-fi connectivity in the mainland.
The Network Access
License will allow the company's iPhone to enter the Chinese market and run only on Chinese cellular networks in Beijing's bid to maintain government censorship.
One of the iPhone's selling features was its wi-fi connectivity that allowed users
to access the internet and other special iPhone applications from any place with a hotspot connection.
Apple was hell bent on having the iPhone be wifi-enabled, says Wedge Partners analyst Matt Mathison told Businessweek: The Chinese
government has been just as adamant that it not be.”
|4th July |
More nonsense from the ludicrous iPhone censors
Thanks to Nick
article from techcrunch.com
Start Mobile has managed to get 18 separate iPhone applications approved by Apple. So you'll imagine their surprise when one of them was recently rejected. But you may be even more surprised to find out why.
Apparently, Apple doesn't
like the way one piece of art in the app depicts President Obama. Is it out of line or tasteless? Well, you can determine for yourself, because you've undoubtedly seen the art in question before: It's Shepard Fairey's famous “HOPE” image of Obama that
was everywhere during his Presidential campaign.
So why on Earth would this be rejected? Well, here's the wording in the rejection:
It contains content that ridicules public figures and is in violation of
Section 3.3.12 from the iPhone SDK Agreement which states: “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 judgement may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users.
Ridicules public figures? This image is hanging in the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian — yet, Apple apparently finds
|3rd July |
Apple ludicrously set themselves up as censors of every image shared by users
Based on article from
See also Who Exactly Is In Charge Of The
App Store? Anyone? from techcrunch.com
Apple has pulled BeautyMeter—the iPhone/iPod touch app that allowed users to upload pictures of themselves for others to rate—after a 15-yo girl published this picture showing her bare breasts and pubic hair.
Charlie Sorrel at Wired argues
correctly that Apple will be damned with 17+ apps no matter what:
The problems for Apple are clear. By setting itself up as a guardian of the store, Apple can't win. Any time a controversial application is approved, or non-allowed elements are
snuck into an application post-approval, Apple is blamed. If these apps are pulled ahead of time, Apple is called out as an evil censor.
Any application that allows you to upload pictures and share them could be used to do exactly the same. So
where should Apple stop, then? Should they ban any app that can be used to publish pictures or videos? Shouldn't the developers—and the users—be responsible about this and not Apple.
The problem for Apple is probably not a legal one, but one of
public perception, with people and mainstream assuming that—just because it runs on the iPhone—it is Apple's app.
|27th June |
Apple introduce a 17 rating to its store and the nutters are 'furious'
Thanks to Dan
26th June 2009. Based on
article from dailymail.co.uk
Nutters are furious over a new Apple application which allows teenagers to access softcore pornography via the popular iPhone.
Dubbed 'iPorn' it is the first time the country's one million iPhone users can view such images with an
application approved by the computer company.
The Hottest Girls package, which costs £1.19, is a 17-rated version of an older application that used to offer bikini and lingerie shots.
Previously users have been able to
download softcore content from the web on to the iPhone but this is the first time such images have been available with Apple's permission.
The application is rated for those aged 17 and over, although this relies on teenage iPhone users telling
the truth about their age when they sign up to the App Store.
Parents in the know can set controls on the new iPhone3GS that will stop the app appearing.
Miranda Suit, co-founder of the nutter group MediaMarch told MailOnline she was appalled
: We are very concerned about the mainstreaming of pornography. It is being packaged in a tempting way and will be disastrous for youngsters who are not equipped to deal with such content. And what about the growing number of sex addicts? I know
of cases where they are trying to avoid certain films and magazines, but now even their phone will be a risk for them. We urge the Government to look at the affect pornography has on children and vulnerable adults.
The application was amongst
the first approved for a new 17 rating introduced to the iPhone Store.
However all is not clear as the Hottest Girls app was later removed from the App store sparking off stories that Apple have changed their mind in response to bad press.
Even later it was reported that the developer had asked for the App to be removed due to high demand on servers.
No doubt the situation will become clearer later
Update: Apple, Rotten to the Core
27th June 2009. See
article from theregister.co.uk
Apple have now come out as he
censorial villain of the piece. By yesterday afternoon Apple was telling CNN:
The developer of this application added inappropriate content directly from their server after the application had been approved and
distributed ... This was a direct violation of the terms of the iPhone Developer Program. The application is no longer available on the App Store.
But it's not just Hottest Girls that has disappeared from the Application
store - other titles from the same publisher have also been exorcised including Hottest Guys and Send Flowers.
Even the developer's web site (now) contains no reference to any of the applications or the accompanying fuss, so Apple
has managed to ensure that iPhone users can download applications freely without fear of encountering a rouged female nipple, for another day at least.
|17th June |
Is it economically viable for the games industry to properly rate iPhone games
Based on article from gamepolitics.com
The recent discussion concerning the ESA's desire to have its rating organization, the ESRB, evaluate game content for the iTunes App Store brings a number of questions to mind:
Despite its present
chaotic nature, the App Store is a rising star in the game space. Getting in on the ground floor would be a coup for the ESRB. Apple has a lot of money, too, and the ESRB is paid a fee by the developer/publisher for each game it rates.
ESRB is a
non-profit organization funded by the revenue generated from the services we provide the industry. Given our highly discounted rate for lower-budget games, rating mobile games is not a financially attractive proposition; however we believe making ESRB
ratings available for those games would serve consumers well. Parents are already familiar with ESRB ratings and find them to be extremely helpful in making informed choices for their families.
Apple's integration of ESRB ratings into its
parental controls for iPhone games would afford parents the ability to block those video games that carry an ESRB rating utilizing the same tool they are being offered to block video content that has been rated by the MPAA or carries an official TV
rating. It's about giving parents the same ability to do on the iPhone what they are being offered with other entertainment content and can already do on game consoles and other handheld game devices.
What would it cost?
I asked the ESRB what it costs a developer/publisher to have a typical console game rated? Would the cost to rate an iPhone game be less? Mizrachi said:
Our standard fees for getting a game rated cover the costs of providing
that service. However, to make accommodations for lower-budget product like casual and mobile games, several years ago we introduced a highly discounted rate - 80% less - for games that cost under $250,000 to develop. We believe most iPhone games would
likely be eligible for the discounted rate.
Who would pay for ESRB to rate App Store games?
Not the creators of $0.99 games, for the most part. They are apparently not making significant revenue. Apple
has a deep pocket, of course, although they are not the creator of the games for sale on the App Store. Perhaps the larger industry players such as EA, Namco, etc. would foot the bill for their games. They are already accustomed to dealing with the ESRB.
|27th May |
Apple relent and allow book reading application
Based on article
Apple has reversed its decision to reject the e-book reader app Eucalyptus from the App Store on the basis that it can access an English translation of the Kama Sutra. The change came after a hopefully embarrassed Apple representative contacted the
developer directly to discuss the issue.
The Apple representative asked Eucalyptus developer James Montgomerie to submit a build of Eucalyptus without any filtering in place, and, as of late Saturday, that version is now available for purchase
from the App Store for $9.99.
|22nd May |
Apple continue their ludicrous iPhone bans
The third version of Hot Dog Down A Hallway , Metaversal Studios' only iPhone app, has been rejected by the App Store. Apple ludicrously cites explicit content as the reason for its decision. Metaversal Studios is unconvinced by the label,
as the game, despite its suggestive name, has previously been given a low age rating of nine and up by the App Store. The developer's Interactive Director, Dave Laundry, believes the iTunes censorship policy is a mystery.
Hot Dog Down A
Hallway v1.1 is still available from the App Store for $1, but will likely be removed.
Reading old stories about Apple inanity
article from guardian.co.uk
A British-made iPhone program
has been banned by Apple - because it 'could' allow people to read the Kama Sutra.
Eucalyptus, a book reading application developed by Edinburgh programmer James Montgomerie, allows users to download and read thousands of classic titles
from the library of Project Gutenberg, the respected website that hosts out of copyright books.
But after repeated attempts to get Eucalyptus onto the iPhone's popular App Store, Montgomerie was told that his application was being rejected
because one of Gutenberg's books happens to be Sir Richard Burton's 1883 translation of the famous guide to sex.
In a series of emails, Apple told Montgomerie that allowing access to the Kama Sutra meant that the program contains
inappropriate sexual content, in violation of the rules for iPhone software.
Of course the same title is already accessible through a number of other popular ebook applications for the iPhone, and even through the handset's web browser.
Montgomerie told the Guardian that although the situation has left him frustrated, it will not put him off developing for the iPhone. As a temporary solution to the problem, he has submitted a new version of Eucalyptus to Apple which specifically
blocks the Kama Sutra - and says he hopes that bureaucracy will not get in the way this time: I would like to think that someone, somewhere at Apple would realise just how flawed the whole approval process is, and do something to change it. It does
seem like it could be a lot better without having to spend too much extra money on it. They could make the whole thing a lot more pleasant.
|12th May |
Apple so holier than thou that they censor Jesus image fun
article from telegraph.co.uk
Apple has banned an iPhone app, Me So Holy, which allows users to replace Jesus’s face with their own.
Me So Holy is the latest in a line of apps that Apple has rejected, causing industry pundits to accuse Apple of becoming both a
nanny and tastemaker for the app store.
The application has been branded by Apple as objectionable and has been rejected from its app store.
|9th May |
Apple's haphazard censorship of Nine Inch Nails
Based on article
Apple keeps a censorial grip over its iPhone which one of America's top-selling smart phones. It has proven itself more than willing to censor a broad range of content it finds morally questionable from violence to sexual themes. The latest example
of Apple seeking to help guide its customers' moral decisions came when the company rejected an application update from Trent Reznor, for an app for his band Nine Inch Nails.
Apple said the app was unacceptable because it came with profane music
clips from NIN's groundbreaking album The Downward Spiral . Some note the curiousness of Apple's ruling, given that it happily sold the album on iTunes.
Now, at last, Apple has let its objections go away in the end. It has reversed its
stance and said that Reznor can have it all, when it comes to his app update. Reznor happily Twittered the news to his fans.
While, it’s good to see Apple looking to re-evaluate its rules surrounding how it polices its app store empire, it’s also
somewhat troubling, according to some, that Apple is developing a habit of rejecting applications on questionable grounds and then approving them after criticism. Many say that Apple's selective and haphazard censorship demonstrates an inability to
logically regulate its content, something which threatens the viability of the iPhone's app platform.
|6th May |
Apple censors The Sun for its page 3 fun
Based on article from
Apple may put News International's nose out of joint with its definition of 'obscene', after rejecting a newspaper-reading iPhone app for reasons of rudeness.
Newspaper(s), an application that renders content from the world's newspapers, was
rejected by iTunes because it included the UK's Sun newspaper - complete with topless Page Three girl - on the grounds that it violates the iTunes policy on obscene content.
But the Sun reckons it's a family paper, and takes
accusations of pornography-pushing very seriously indeed.
According to a report on iLounge the publisher of Newspaper(s) was recommended to resubmit the application once OS 3.0 is released, after which a suitable category will be available, but
instead decided to remove the offending newspaper from the app.
|24th April |
Apple ban Baby Shaker iPhone game
Based on article from
Apple has apologised for a deeply offensive iPhone application called Baby Shaker , which made a game of quieting crying babies by shaking them.
It removed the $0.99 game from its iTunes Store two days after it went on sale.
It sparked 'outrage' from children's groups and brain injury foundations.
The aim of the game was to quiet babies by shaking the iPhone until a pair of thick red Xs appeared over each eye of a baby drawn in black-and-white.
application was deeply offensive and should not have been approved for distribution on the App Store, Apple said in a statement We sincerely apologise for this mistake and thank our customers for bringing this to our attention.
iTunes description included the line: See how long you can endure his or her adorable cries before you just have to find a way to quiet the baby down! It also included a disclaimer: Never shake a baby.
Jetta Bernier, executive
director of Massachusetts Citizens for Children, said: I am disheartened that with this new application Apple is encouraging frustrated adults to shake infants, not only to end their crying, but to end their lives.
|11th February |
Mexico to establish fingerprint database of mobile phone users
Mexico will start a national register of mobile phone users that will include fingerprinting all customers.
Under a new law due to be in force in April, mobile phone companies will have a year to build up a database of their clients, complete
with fingerprints. The idea would be to match calls and messages to the phones' owners.
Politicians who pushed the bill through Congress last year say there are around 700 criminal bands in Mexico, some of them operating from prison cells, that
use cell phones to extract extortion and kidnap ransom payments.
Most of Mexico's 80 million mobile phones are prepaid handsets with a given number of minutes of use that can be bought in stores without any identification. The phones can be
topped up with more minutes via vendors on street corners.
The register, detailed in the government's official gazette, means new subscribers will now be fingerprinted when they buy a handset or phone contract.
The plan also requires
operators to store all cell phone information such as call logs, text and voice messages, for one year. Information on users and calls will remain private and only available with court approval to track down criminals.
|3rd February |
Japan blocks under 18's from networking sites unless they pay up for a content monitor
Based on article from
Japanese telco NTT Docomo has banned customers under 18 from accessing mobile internet dating sites.
The sites being banned are not the more dodgy wife-swapping sites either, but conventional blogging and social networking sites. While
Mobage-town, Myspace Mobile and Gree have been deemed safe, others have been blocked by NTT Docomo.
It is expected that the move will be followed by outer Japanese telcos. Softbank Mobile has announced that it will start blocking the sites in the
first week of February.
Docomo said that customers under 18 must submit an application and proof of age to view sites which are blacklisted.
To avoid blacklisting, site owners have to pay a content monitoring watchdog $5,574.86, have a
24-hour watch system in place and a system to notify police or fire officials in emergencies.