The 9 Most Controversial Apps Censored By Apple
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Apple's strict approval process for apps can be a tough hurdle to clear for some developers. But with over 425,000 iPhone applications available in the App Store, a few are bound to offend some customers.
Apple specifies in its Software Development Kit (SDK) that "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." (PDF)
Despite these guidelines, some developers submit potentially offensive apps that inexplicably escape Apple's censors. Other developers walk the gray line of "reasonable judgement." Meanwhile, Apple's approval guidlines protect the company from the inevitable outcry that occurs when an app that promotes a controversial issue finds its way into the App Store. Nonetheless, when a company has a consumer-base as expansive and diverse as Apple's, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep every user happy by filtering offensive content. Sometimes Apple needs to rely on its users to report these controversial apps in order to bring it to their attention.
We've collected some of the most controversial apps from the past year. Check them out in the slideshow (below), and tell us whether you think they deserve to be banned from the App Store. Then, take a look at our previous list of 15 outrageous banned apps.
Smuggle Truck: Operation Immigrant
Boston-based developer Owlchemy Labs irked immigrant advocate groups with this iPhone game that allows users to drive a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/28/smuggle-truck-operation-immigration-rejected-by-apple_n_854899.html" target="_hplink">truck full of immigrants</a> through the desert. According to the AP, "[Developer Alex] Schwartz said he wanted to bring attention to immigration issues." But Apple banned the app from the App Store.
U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer, Frank Lautenberg, Tom Udall and Harry Reid pressured Apple, Google and RIM earlier this spring to remove smartphone apps that notify users of nearby police <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/23/senators-ask-apple-to-ban-dui-checkpoint-alert-apps_n_839300.html" target="_hplink">DUI checkpoints</a>. Apple and RIM have since <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/09/apple-dui-checkpoint-apps-ban_n_874532.html" target="_hplink">complied</a> with the Seantors' demands and cracked on so-called "DUI checkpoint" apps, but Google has yet to take action.
Despite initially passing Apple's standards, the allegedly anti-gay messages promoted by the app "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/23/apple-exodus-international-app_n_839448.html" target="_hplink">Exodus International</a>" outraged thousands of customers. The Exodus International ministry, from which the app takes its name, <a href="http://blog.exodusinternational.org/about/http://blog.exodusinternational.org/about/" target="_hplink">promotes</a> "freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ." After more than 150,000 signatures were gathered for an online petition, Apple removed the app from the App Store entirely.
Hugh Hefner claimed in January that "Playboy" would soon come <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/21/playboy-ipad-app-blocked-_n_812489.html" target="_hplink">uncensored on the iPad</a>. Apple, however, remains firm on its nudity-free policy within the App Store and forced "Playboy" to resort to a low resolution web app instead.
The <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2010/12/20/apple-removes-wikileaks-app-from-app-store/" target="_hplink">unofficial WikiLeaks application</a> lasted only three days in the App Store before being banned by Apple.
'The Importance Of Being Earnest'
Apparently Apple's censors worried that Tom Bouden's graphic novel version of Oscar Wilde's <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/14/apple-censors-gay-kiss-in_n_611553.html" target="_hplink">The Importance of Being Earnest</a></em>, which portrays illustrations of nude or partially nude men embracing, would be too objectionable for too many users. Apple approved the app, but only with black boxes covering controversial frames. However, the App Store later reversed its decision and passed the app without the censor bars.
Big Brother Camera Security
In 2010, Apple approved the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/15/apple-bans-big-brother-camera-security-iphone-passcodes_n_877481.html" target="_hplink">Big Brother Camera Security app</a>, which lets users remotely photograph someone who is improperly trying to access their stolen or lost iPhone. In June 2010, however, the app was removed from the App Store following accusations that the developer was "surreptitiously harvesting user passwords."
Apple removed the app called "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/23/apple-removes-anti-israel-thirdintifada-app_n_882857.html" target="_hplink">ThirdIntifada</a>" from the App Store, following complaints made by Israel's information minister, Yuli Edelstein and Jewish human rights group Simon Wiesenthal Center. The app was said to promote violence against Israel, according to claims.
Apple initially approved so-called "anti-gay" app <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/24/apple-manhattan-declaration-app_n_788075.html" target="_hplink">Manhattan Declaration</a>, but the App Store later removed the program following a wave of complaints--and a petition--from outraged customers. The app asked users to sign a "declaration," which according to the app "speaks in defense of the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty."