Apple blames Hitler for EFF iPhone ban


Here we go again, it is silly season at Apple as an iPhone application feeding news from a civil liberties organisation is banned and Hitler gets the blame.

Just two days ago I posted a news story entitled 'You don't have to be easily offended to be an iPhone app approver, but it helps' which explained how an eBook reader app was banned because it might be used to view sexually explicit texts. This coming on top of other mad decisions, apparently taken to protect those who are prone to be offending by everything, such as banning a game featuring Barack Obama bouncing on a trampoline and another paying homage to South Park, the hugely popular cartoon series aimed at adults.

Now it would appear that the Apple iPhone app approvers have decided to play up to their easily offended stereotype by banning an application which displays news content from the Electronic Freedom Federation RSS feed on the iPhone. The EFF, of course, are a long established civil rights organisation which deals with freedom as far as the online realm is concerned. Could be quite the wrong target to pick upon, you might imagine, if the reasoning behind the ban was not 100 percent watertight.

Oh dear, Apple, looks like the water is pouring in on this one: the application was banned on the grounds of objectionable content. In this case, that content was a link to a parody video made by EFF Board Chairman Brad Templeton in order to highlight concerns about DRM and fair use within the entertainment industry online. The objectionable bit being that the video features Hitler as an entertainments industry executive.

As the EFF itself says "Now, Apple may find EFF "objectionable" for any number of reasons... But surely linking to a video that includes a "bad word" can't be one of them. After all, the YouTube app that Apple includes on every iPhone that ships will let you watch exactly the same video, bad word and all. And you can use the Safari web browser that ships with every iPhone to access EFF's website, as well as millions of web sites that include much more extreme language."

The EFF is clear that Apple can decide what apps it carries or not, but is equally adamant that it should not be "playing the role of language police" while disallowing iPhone users from shopping elsewhere for apps. "This is precisely why EFF has asked the Copyright Office to grant an exemption to the DMCA for jailbreaking iPhones. It's none of Apple's business if I want an app on my phone that lets me read EFF's RSS feed, use Sling Player over 3G, or read the Kama Sutra" a spokesperson says.

About the Author

A freelance technology journalist for 30 years, I have been a Contributing Editor at PC Pro (one of the best selling computer magazines in the UK) for most of them. As well as currently contributing to, The Times and Sunday Times via Raconteur Special Reports, SC Magazine UK, Digital Health, IT Pro and Infosecurity Magazine, I am also something of a prolific author. My last book, Being Virtual: Who You Really are Online, which was published in 2008 as part of the Science Museum TechKnow Series by John Wiley & Sons. I am also the only three times winner (2006, 2008, 2010) of the BT Information Security Journalist of the Year title, and was humbled to be presented with the ‘Enigma Award’ for a ‘lifetime contribution to information security journalism’ in 2011 despite my life being far from over...

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