Censorship, some say, is a blunt weapon with a thin end – you start exercising censorship against something most people agree shouldn’t be seen/discussed, you end up censoring conversations about the weather.
So, great news this weekend that Apple’s decided to become the world’s biggest censor as it once again proves that, when it comes to the App Store disapprovals team, it has decided to hire people with some kind of narrow-minded unimaginative version of received morality. And has booted 5,000 Apps from the App Store for the crime of being ever so slightly naughty.
This annoys me.
First, what people choose to use on their iPhone is a personal decision – it isn’t up to Apple or anyone else to decide what anybody else does. It is only a channel. But a dominant one.
Second: there’s absolutely no good reason for Apple to do this. After all – in order to download an App a credit card is probably required – can you get one of these when you’re under 18? Can the company not put together an approvals process to regulate for age? Of course it can, it just doesn’t want to.
Now comes the most ridiculous news that UK-based designer swimwear retailer, Simply Beach, has had its shopping app removed from Apple’s iTunes. So – swimwear is prurient as far as the App Store disapprovals people go? How stupid are they? Presumably underwear shopping will also be booted out. Presumably this means Apple users don’t wear pants.
What a pile of crap.
Apple claimed the App contained “overtly sexual content”.
Gerrard Dennis, Managing Director of The Simply Group who operates Simply Beach along with six other online stores said “The e-mail arrived straight to a junk mail folder on Friday and to be honest we thought it was a spam joke. We then checked iTunes to find the app had in fact been removed. It seems like political correctness gone mad. It’s just women in bikinis, swimsuits and kaftans.”
On advice from their developers, Simply Beach resubmitted their app to iTunes but with an age limit restriction. Gerrard Dennis said “We have asked Apple for clarification but have had no reply; we are a small business trying to work in the new mobile world. Apple’s cavalier behaviour is not helpful; we had no consultation, just a ‘we removed you e-mail’. We are as keen as anyone to protect children but the images on the app are no more sexual than you would find in any Sunday newspaper, and there is no age restriction on buying those. There are plenty of sexual apps in iTunes and to categorize our shopping app as one is ludicrous.
“I wonder if anyone at Apple even looked at it or just banned it because it contained the words swimwear and bikini?
“Certainly there seem to be plenty of other shopping apps still on iTunes that sell swimwear and underwear, maybe it is because we are a specialist bikini store? You can still view all the images via our product feed to Amazon and then via the Amazon app, so what have Apple achieved, certainly not the removal of the images.”
Apple, we don’t need censorship. Censorship is one of those things many of the people in the ad we’ve run below spent their lives fighting against – censorship isn’t just about stopping people developing an awareness that all humans have sexy parts. It starts with banning nudity, and ends up becoming an attempt to ban conversations about politics, sexuality or race, or whatever…narrow minded decisions are bad for democracy.
I abhor and reject censorship, and think Apple’s decision to wield a censorious stick on its store reflects an organisation that’s losing touch with its own identity.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Here’s to the crazy ones