Feeds

Apple bans Pulitzer Prize political cartoons from iPhone

Censorship goes from silly to serious

Security for virtualized datacentres

This week, a California political cartoonist was awarded the prestigious Pulitzer Prize. Last December, Apple's App Store police barred his work from its hallowed online halls.

As reported Thursday by Harvard University's Nieman Journalism Lab, Pulitzer Prize–winning cartoonist Mark Fiore submitted his cartoon app NewsToons to the App Store Police, only to have it rejected.

Fiore's sin: violation of the sacred section 3.3.14 of the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement, which reads:

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.

We'll gloss over that risible "reasonable judgement" bit and instead pose a simple question: Keeping in mind that Fiore is a political cartoonist, might that "offensive or defamatory" judgment be solely in the eyes of the beholder?

Meaning, are the App Store police censoring commentary based upon their own tastes? Well, of course they are.

After all, who might find Fiore's cartoons to be offensive? Homophobes? Drug dealers? Mexican wrestlers? The POTUS himself? Maybe so - but one thing is certain: Apple does.

Sure, we all laugh at the stupidity of fart apps (447 and counting) and pointless "Ka-Ching!" buttons and their ilk, but the App Store police's censorship of political ideas is truly worrisome. Should Apple succeed, as it clearly wishes to, in turning the iPad into a vehicle for printed matter, will the App Store bluenoses succeed in determining what large numbers of people can read?

To be sure, Apple doesn't censor pass-through apps such as those from The New York Times, the BBC, or USA Today, which exist to be containers for news and commentary produced by their parent entities. But the App Store police - as in Fiore's case - find it well within their power to shut controversy out of Apple's handhelds when it appears in standalone apps.

And if you'd like to don your favorite tinfoil hat for a moment, note that the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement doesn't explicitly state that content displayed through a pass-through app is immune from the "offensive or defamatory content" prohibition.

The spreading stink over Fiore's rejection may change Apple's mind, however. Last November, the App Store police banned an app that included a cartoon of a Nancy Pelosi bobblehead. It relented and approved the app, but only after considerable public pressure - and not a small amount of ridicule.

Perhaps the outcry over Fiore's banning will lead to a similar turnabout by Apple - after all, winning a Pulitzer Prize is no small achievement, and one that should earn Apple a fresh round of derision.

But that won't change the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement. Remember, it still allows Apple to "reject [an app] for any reason, even if Your Application meets the Documentation and Program Requirements."

To gain admission into the iTunes App Store, a political commentator shouldn't have to win a Pulitzer Prize. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Oi, Tim Cook. Apple Watch. I DARE you to tell me, IN PERSON, that it's secure
State attorney demands Apple CEO bows the knee to him
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Monitors monitor's monitoring finds touch screens have 0.4% market share
Not four. Point four. Count yer booty again, Microsoft
Hey, Mac fanbois. HGST wants you drooling over its HUGE desktop RACK
What vast digital media repository could possibly need 64 TERABYTES?
In a spin: Samsung accuses LG exec of washing machine SABOTAGE
Rival electronic giant tries to iron out allegations
Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed
Remastered so hard it would be difficult or impossible to master it again
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.