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But Why Does Apple Wants To Take On The Role Of Content Gatekeeper?

from the how-does-this-benefit-anyone? dept

Following the recent post we had about Apple taking down popular games from its App store, the latest buzz in on Apple denying a comic book reader entrance to its iPhone app store because the primary comic book being offered was too violent. This has created quite an uproar — though, again, Apple has been upfront about the fact that this is a closed system from the beginning. So, it’s not entirely clear why people are pissed off at Apple. It hasn’t mislead anyone about the fact that it will block and censor content and apps.

Still, it does make you wonder why Apple is bothering? All it seems to do is piss off people. It takes extra work and effort on Apple’s part and it’s hard to see who benefits. Plenty of other systems out there allow anyone to develop apps and content, and they get by just fine, often using user feedback systems to make sure that “bad” content and apps get weeded out fast, without any complaints from users. Having Apple set itself up as the ultimate gatekeeper isn’t “censorship” — it’s just pointless.

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Comments on “But Why Does Apple Wants To Take On The Role Of Content Gatekeeper?”

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BK vague says:

Re: Re:

“its just a store having the final say on what it sells and what it doesn’t.”

its not selling the app its an open source development that apple has banned from being used on something you own. That’s like buying a car and the automotive company taking your aftermarket rims because they don’t like them on the car they made. That’s just not how it works, when you buy something its yours. Its not up to apple to decide what you can and cant do with your own property.

Anonymous Coward says:

It isn't censorship?

Now, I’m not going to say that they are evil for doing this or that they have no right to keep whatever they want out of their store, but I am having a really, really hard time figuring out how this isn’t censorship.

And don’t give me any BS about how it isn’t censorship because it isn’t the government doing it. I know it isn’t government censorship. Just because it’s only illegal for the government to do it, doesn’t mean that non-governmental entities can’t do it nor does it make it non-evil just because it isn’t illegal (again, I don’t think this case is a particularly malevolent form of censorship).

And just for completeness the M-W.com definition of censor:
to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable ; also : to suppress or delete as objectionable

wasnt me! says:

Re: It isn't censorship?

isn’t a book store allowed to sell the books it please and only those?
isn’t a hardware store allowed to choose which tools it sells and which it doesn’t?
isn’t a software shop allowed to choose what programs it sells and what programs not to sell?

how is apple deciding what apps are sold on its App store any different?

Joshua BA says:

Re: Re: It isn't censorship?

(I forgot to add my name last time)

I never said they weren’t allowed to do it. In fact, here is a quote from what I said illustrating this:

“Now, I’m not going to say that they are evil for doing this or that they have no right to keep whatever they want out of their store…”

All I said is that the issue of whether or not they are allowed to do it and whether or not they should do it is irrelevant. Even if what they were doing was determined by all to be the right thing to do, it would still be censorship.

LOL says:

Re: Re: It isn't censorship?

Can you tell who was gullible enough to buy one of these phones by reading these posts.

It is simple. You much be republican, you can’t think for yourself, so listen to Rush. You buy something with outside access to anything on the internet, but you have help with what you need to think/read/use on the device you purchased.

Kind of funny.

Alfred E Newman (user link) says:

Re: Re: It isn't censorship?

isn’t a book store allowed to sell the books it please and only those?

how is apple deciding what apps are sold on its App store any different?
How would you feel if the book store sold you a book then came and took it back saying “you can’t read this”?

This is different from not having the book to sell you because they don’t/wont sell it.

Nasch says:

Re: Re: It isn't censorship?

isn’t a book store allowed to sell the books it please and only those?

Yes. And if they decide not to sell a book because of its objectionable content, that’s censorship too. For example, Wal-Mart censors music by not selling any with profanity*. The hardware store example isn’t good because nobody censors tools. However if a bookstore doesn’t carry a book because it doesn’t sell well, or doesn’t match their customer base’s desires, not censorship. Someone posted a definition of censorship above, check it out.

* I never really liked the term “explicit language”. As opposed to implicit language? The word “profane” isn’t profane, just use it. Kind of like “graphic scenes”. Contrasted with the usual textual scenes? It’s TV, of course it’s graphic!

Bill F says:

It isn't censorship?

The reality is Apple is a high profile company selling consumer electronics and content to the public. Apple is very sensitive to public opinion and doesn’t want bad publicity. Any questionable content would brings tons of people saying silly things like “Apple is corrupting the minds of our children!” etc. Yes, Apple would have defenders of free speech and freedom like me but our voices would be drown out by the simple minded.

Joshua BA says:

Re: It isn't censorship?

I don’t have much of a problem with this specific instance of what Apple is doing. The way I see it is that if you buy a device that is well known to be closed, you don’t have much room to complain that after you bought it, you aren’t a able to use it the way you want, you knew that going in.

My entire comment was about this part of the post: ‘Having Apple set itself up as the ultimate gatekeeper isn’t “censorship” — it’s just pointless.

That is a patently false statement. It IS censorship, just not a particularly egregious example of it.

I see this misuse of the word most often with “free market” types who seem to do it for no other reason than the fact that they want this anti-knowledge act to be the sole occupation of the government and NOT free acting companies so they can point and say “See what the government does? That’s why we need less regulation!”

Jack Sombra says:

“Still, it does make you wonder why Apple is bothering?”
Because it’s what they have always done. Apple are, always have been and always will be control freaks in regards to all their products, even when apple themselves suffer for it

The loss of the whole Mac vs PC war was in a large portion down to this, they had the better product/os but the freedom offered to developers/hobbists/users on the pc platform garanteed apple would lose and they did.

This mentality of apple is why i have always did my best to stay away from their products, because at the end of the day they make MS look angels (and that takes some doing)

Shohat says:


The McDonalds near doesn’t sell condoms.
How dare they decide what they’d like to offer.

Not to mention the fact that Youtube does allow Snuff or just plain good old porn clips.

Anyway, Apple’s store should probably embrace the “T” rating compliance and get it over with. Put a big fat “T rating or better” and get it over with.

Russell Wilson says:


The people posting this comparison “Aren’t stores allowed to sell what they want to, and not sell what they don’t?” are absolutely ridiculous.

As far as I’m aware, there aren’t many stores that sell “consumer-created” products, and advertise themselves as doing so.

If I remember correctly, one of the hypes of the Apple Store was the open-source capability of users being able to submit applications they created. Apple seemed mighty proud of that. Suddenly, some of those applications aren’t good enough and the creators are stonewalled?

Put in user-feedback. Applications with very low scores are removed, or moved down the list. Something. Don’t flat out say “It’s not good enough, so we won’t put it here.”.

I don’t think I’d call it “censorship”. I think people just jump to use that word any time something is done they don’t like, and it involves removal of anything from a public medium. I will call it bad business, arrogant business. Someone mentioned it above…Apple has ALWAYS been insanely steadfast in having unrelenting control over anything they do, and Steve Jobs (if you’ve ever met the guy) really, really puts off an arrogant demeanor. It fits his company.

Apple needs to step it up. The Apple fanboys aren’t enough to keep the ship from sinking. Apple soon will not be a Multimedia company. They’re quickly moving towards being an electronic manufacturer, and are losing touch with the internet. Maybe they should take a cue from MS’s issues brought on by arrogance, and avoid that happening to themselves.

(Though…I have to admit…I’ll be cheering when it hits them).

Joshua BA says:

Re: User-Created.

First off, hosting user-generated content is in no-way connected to the term ‘open source’. Open source requires that you are able to examine and, under most definitions, modify and compile the source. If I recall correctly, the iPhone’s SDK license contains wording that requires you to not disclose how the API works, which makes anything where you can examine API calls against the license, making open source iPhone apps impossible.

Secondly, how is “Apple denying a comic book reader entrance to its iPhone app store because the primary comic book being offered was too violent.” not censorship? What aspect of it disqualifies it from being censorship?

Mike Allen says:

it is censorship

Dispite what you say censoring is the suppression of anything you think the public or an individual should or should not see, read, or even say. Apple have said it is because they concider it too violant. That is censorship. they should allow it and im sure the creators will find an outlet, and allow the public to make their minds up.

Anonymous Coward says:

You don't have to buy an iPhone

Seriously. This is *stupid* of Apple. But even more *stupid* are the people that are claiming censorship and that they shouldn’t be allowed to prohibit whatever apps they want.





Buy a different phone. Get over it. Get your own PDA. Do what you want with it. Stop complaining that you can’t get your way, its childish.

I spent a few hundred less on my Nokia N95 and I can use it in the US, Europe, Japan, over 3G networks, or even over 802.11 if I want. I get free GPS (would have to pay Nokia to enable voice activated GPS) with it as well.

Best part: It came completely unlocked. Popped in my T-Mobile SIM and I can use it anywhere. I can make calls wherever my T-Mobile plan allows. If I need to talk somewhere it doesn’t cover, I’ll get a different plan.

The phone’s got a 5 megapixel digital camera. That’s better quality than the digital camera I do have, and paid 90 dollars for. It’s got a secondary camera as well so I can do video calls if I want.

I can browse the web from my mobile phone. Which means thanks to my gmail account I can send e-mails from it just fine.

Hell, its got an RSS feed reader. I can add as many as I want and I get the info for free whenever I connect it to a network.

With the right web apps I can do whatever I want with it. That comic was too violent? Host it on the web. Make it a pay to see like some newspapers have tried. I’ll be able to look at it.

Hell, the iPhone users would be able to look at it then.

You people need to grow up. If something does something you don’t like, too bad. Do something about it or shut up. Sniveling never solved anything. This is one of the biggest reasons we have so many problems in this country nowadays. People would rather whine their rights are being taken away than fix the problem, and they think they have a right to toys.

Joshua BA says:

Re: You don't have to buy an iPhone

*Why* is claiming this is censorship stupid? Just because it isn’t a big deal doesn’t mean a thing in this case. I don’t care that Apple censors the apps it lets onto or sells for the iPhone. What I do care about is the destruction of a meaningful word by people like you.

There is nothing inherently wrong with censorship. It’s the specific use that is bad or not. Self-censoring to keep from blurting out something embarrassing in public is a good use. Apple is censoring this program because they don’t want to be associated with something they consider to be overly violent. This is not a malevolent goal or act and I don’t have a problem with them doing it. It *IS* censorship though. Not matter how much you, and apparently Mike, wish it to be, calling something censorship is not an indictment of wrongdoing which has, as it’s sole purpose, the ability to mock or deride.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You don't have to buy an iPhone

It’s true. You don’t need to buy an iPhone. However, you can say “I think this is a bad idea.” or “I don’t like this about the iPhone.” or even “I don’t like this about my iPhone.” It doesn’t matter if you own a product or not. You’re allowed to discuss your qualms about said product. This isn’t even just about the iPhone, but all products that are on the consumer market. Hell, you can even complain about the policitians you voted in. There’s nothing inherently wrong with complaining about something you don’t like thats attached to a decision you’ve made. One can be extremely happy with the iPhone but agree that a certain feature does suck. They can even request that it be changed. There’s nothing wrong with asking a company to improve their product. It’s called a suggestion. Some companies even ASK for them.

Also, on a sidenote, i find it hard to believe you got the N95 for hundreds less than $199. Even hundreds less than $499. Not that I really care. It just seems to be an odd statement to make. Even if you got it for free, that wouldn’t be the norm, so it’d make a lousy argument.

Squeak (user link) says:


Notice how everyone stopped commenting after that last one?
Thats how it should be. Usually I don’t bother commenting because it is, as a general rule, a complete waste of time, seeing as half of you won’t even read my whole post before picking it to pieces.

However I made the exception this time simply to ask, why are you all spending so much time discussing this?
If you can do something about it then do it, if you cant then get over it.

At least Anonymous Coward has the right story. gratz.

Anonymous Coward says:

Missing point....

For those who compare this to McDonald not selling condom (or similar arguments): in those cases there are alternatives. McDonald is not going prevent others from opening stores that sell condoms.

I would compare it to a village that has exactly one store and does not allow others to open new stores. In this case that store should not use its own discretion in deciding what to sell.

With these kind of rules and restrictions I feel the deal is more like “leasing” or “renting” the iPhone, not exactly “owning” one. I think apple should make it clear.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Missing point....

YOU ARE FRIGGIN IDIOT. DON’T BUY AN IPHONE IF YOU ARE GOING TO COMPLAIN ABOUT ACCESS TO CRAP THAT DOESN’T EVEN MATTER. Buy a different phone. It is not that difficult. You don’t need an iphone there are plenty of alternatives. Get over yourselves you aren’t that cool for owning an iphone.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Missing point....

And there is a difference between voicing your opinion and whining like little 2 year olds. Especially when you know that voicing your opinion is not going to change the current product. You bought the product knowing this and you are stuck with the product now. Accept your decision.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Missing point....

the only way things get changed is when people who dislike the status in quo voice their opinions.

if everything thought like you slavery would still be allowed in america because it was the status qou. Prohibition would still be the case if people didn’t voice their opinions. heck, America would never have fought for it’s independence if people who disliked the status qou didn’t stand up and voice their opinion.

complaining about things is how most of the world works. first they complain, then they find solutions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Missing point....

Hey apple troll,
I don’t own a iPhone because my current phone is good enough for me (I don’t go out and buy the shiniest product of the day just to boost my ego).

I don’t have anything against apple/iphone. I do own a macbook, a ibook and a ipod and I am satisfied with all of them.

In case of iPhone, I think their strategy is stupid and exploits fleabrains like you. I am not asking them to completely open up their phone but at least be transparent about their policies.

I will be up for a new phone next summer and I would like to “buy” one not rent. (If I am renting it why should I pay $200 non-refundable?)

Anthony (profile) says:

Hypothetically, if a content gatekeeper could remove Sturgeon’s 90%,
that’d be immensely valuable.

Consider different retailers — some, when you walk in the store, you
know 90% of the stuff in the store is going to be of poor quality. You
have to figure out, for each item you wish to purchase, “is this of
acceptable quality?”. That takes time.

Other retailers try quite hard to make sure everything they sell is
of high quality. You can grab a random item off the shelf, and be pretty
confident that it’s of good quality. You don’t have to spend time
determining that yourself.

Time is valuable.

Whether Apple is succeeding in this and if they’re going about it in
the best possible manner are different questions; but most definitely
there is value in a gatekeeper.

Another fairly clear example: Consider back when FTP archives were a
popular way to get freeware & shareware, back in the mid-to-late
90’s. (Anyone remember the Info-Mac Archive?) Archive operators would
perform an important and valuable content gatekeeper action: They would
run a virus scan.

There are many problems with content gatekeepers, of course, but
remember there are advantages too, and in some situations they may —
overall — make sense.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Gatekeeper

I agree with you, to an extent. but my first reaction is that of “what if I WANT something that other people think is poor quality?”

it happens all the time, people bargain-bin shop, they go to goodwill or other used stores, they buy the cheapest thing that does what they want because they don’t care. and what about video-games and movies (or in this case books)? the gatekeeper may not like Hellboy, because it has religious tones, but I (and other people hopefully) would be interested in it because we view t as just a fun story.

while a gate keeper can be good, I don’t lie them myself, and will seek other places without control. to me, the extra time spent finding the product with a good price to pay to be able to get whatever product I want.

Anonymous Coward says:

Wow! Enough with the political slurs!!!

I am a teenager *gasp*, who is a self declared independent (leans towards conservatism), disbeliever in global warming, and atheist. It all seems very contradictory…

All of the hate, guys. All of you are shouting at each other; probably most of you are all at least twice my age: act like it.

For the iPhone thing:
1. Don’t buy it if you hate Apple.
2. Don’t buy it if you expect open source, unlimited apps.
3. There are many other ‘smart phones out there; pick one of those and stop bitching about things you don’t own, and therefore shouldn’t care about.

another mike says:

safe harbors?

Apple has been upfront about the fact that this is a closed system from the beginning … It hasn’t mislead anyone about the fact that it will block and censor content and apps.

Does this mean they lose DMCA section 230 safe harbor protection if an iPhone App violates copyright?

Someone should write an iPhone eBook reader. The first title can be Cheesing Off Fanboys for Fun and Profit.

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