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Apple Rejects App That Tracks U.S. Drone Strikes (wired.com)
273 points by mtgx on Aug 30, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 221 comments

As an Apple fanboy, I've been able to rationalize everything Apple has done concerning the app-store up to now, even if I personally would have like to have seen a way more open and liberal approach. And the overblown anti-Apple FUD, using misplaced terms like "censorship" and "monopoly" whenever an app was thwarted by Apples opaque policies has made it easy to ignore the objections of detractors.

But I find it impossible to justify what is quite obviously a politically motivated rejection.

I still believe this is Apple's store, and they can admit and reject what they like. But if politics comes into it, than that changes my personal perspective on buying Apple products.

Just imagine if the subject would be "places that legalize gay marriage" instead of drone strikes. The only "objectionable" part of the drone strike app is that it may have a political agenda. That should never be grounds for rejection.

Android FTW. I know this pops up constantly, but this is EXACTLY the reason I advocate for android. This sort of shit does not fly there. Apple has the ability to censor which even the government can't and worse is that it's fully legal.

I really wish people would take these stories as a sign that we need to focus on the android market.

FWIW: I am not advocating for the baby & bathwater argument. I think we must focus on android because it will put market pressure on apple to have a more fair/just approval process.

Even if both Google's and Amazon's app stores reject an app, there are still other markets. And you can just download APKs from websites/ftp/etc and install them to your android, no market required.

That is until all the three (Apple, Google and Microsoft) decides to only allow installs from the maketplace, you know for "security" reasons. The problem is if one company gets away with it, others follow suit.

I don't get your logic. Apple pretty much got away with it, Microsoft wasn't really in this space at that time, and still Google didn't follow.

I doubt that very much- Android has the perfect middle ground right now. Only installs from approved sources, but has a checkbox in the settings that basically allows you to say "I know what I'm doing, let me do whatever I want". I doubt they'll change that.

If Google decides to only allow installs from their market, someone will just fork android and change that.

And how will that fork get on any phones for customers to use? "People can just sideload the OS" is not a feasible answer here.

> "People can just sideload the OS" is not a feasible answer here.

Well, it's not feasible as long as bootloaders remain encrypted/non-unlockable. That's the problem with restricting the software that can run on hardware after the user has purchased the hardware and owns it.

People will just buy different Android phones from someone else.

We've already been through this. AT&T (uniquely among US carriers, I believe) blocked non-Market applications on all of their devices. The success of the Amazon Appstore forced them to change that policy.

Saying "the success" was what caused it isn't really accurate, though.

If it hadn't been for a large, US corporation lobbying AT&T to allow their product on the handsets, would it have gone through?

A future where AT&T allows the Amazon and Google app stores only is still one that could happen.

Only a part of Android is open source.

It's not a very effective defense of Apple to say, "Yeah, Google's phones and tablets don't currently have the same central, fundamental limitation that all Apple's iOS devices do, but someday they probably will."

How do you propose enforcing that on an open-source operating system?

The same way chromium has become obsolete with chrome becoming less and less open-source. The same goes with MySQL. In case of android, most consumers will deal with what the manufacturers decides to put on their phones and less than 1% will resort to installing another O/S. Keep in mind even with Android you are forced to register a Google account. What if you din't want to use Google or worst case, they ban you from their network?

The point is, just because something is open-source now doesn't mean it will remain that way in the future.

What is with the downvotes and no comment? I would love to hear your side of the argument too.

It was a combination of FUD and objective falsehood. You presented no evidence that Google intends to close off Android source, and Android doesn't force users to create or use a Google account.

> You presented no evidence that Google intends to close off Android source.

You are right, but the statement was meant to be more of a what-if situation and not a it is. Either-ways we all can agree that based on the past events that it is not in Google's priority list to keep the open-source community updated:



>and Android doesn't force users to create or use a Google account.

If so, could you tell me how I could use an android phone without setting up a Google account? The first screen to hit you when you switch on a brand new android phone is the Google Login/Signup screen.

Every Android device I've ever set up (all the way back to the G1) has a skip button on that same screen. You're free to hit that and never associate a Google account with that device (and get your apps from Amazon, etc.).

The Nexus 7 doesn't.

I was quite surprised when I saw that.

From day one you could always install any .apk you wanted, I don't see that changing.

Not really. The competition between Amazon and Google (and other app stores overseas) has made selling an Android device tied to a single app store untenable. For example, the volume of customer complaints about the Amazon Appstore even forced AT&T to give up on blocking non-Market applications.

While this is true, security is a massive concern. Just look at how many malicious apps were in the Android store just last year, vs. in the Apple store.

Maybe I'm being harsh, but if someone downloads a clearly sketchy looking app (DOWNLOAD FREE MP3S) I have no sympathy for them when it ends up being malicious.

Just like I wouldn't pick up a candy bar off the street and eat it, I wouldn't download a disreputable looking app. Common sense.

> Maybe I'm being harsh, but if someone downloads a clearly sketchy looking app (DOWNLOAD FREE MP3S) I have no sympathy for them when it ends up being malicious.

Yes you're being harsh. Kids use smartphones. And while some of them are really the clever "digital natives" we were promised, a lot of them also are not.

Similar reasoning goes for my mother (62) who is very good with computers compared to others of her generation, indeed smart enough to not trust "DOWNLOAD FREE MP3s!", but still if she were to be tricked by something that might seem real obvious to us, there will be loads of sympathy. (And also a lot of fist-shaking at the unknown malware pusher that got my mom)

Regardless, I wouldn't recommend them iOS. It's a good learning experience even if you get burned and keeps you in a feeling of control and responsibility and freedom.

Maybe my grandmother. There's some bitter irony in the term "walled garden" there, though.

Blame the user straw man. I mean did you see how he was dressed, practically asking for it.

I'd rather live in a world where grownups are allowed to make their own choices than in one where daddy decides what's best for everyone.

As long as the full ramifications of said decisions are clear, sure, allow people to make their own. But it's not possible to know at a glance what Android app is malicious and which is not. Even an application that looks legitimate and works legitimately may steal your data behind the curtain without you knowing, which is what usually happens anyway. This is why an approval process for the app store is good. It's true that Apple's is a bit draconian, but that's because they care about protecting their users. I'm okay with this even if that protection borders on sheltering.

So would you agree that Mountain Lion's Gatekeeper is insufficient, and that Apple should lock down Macs in the same way? If not, what's the difference?

It's true that Apple's is a bit draconian, but that's because they care about protecting their users.

I hear the TSA's marketing department is hiring.

I think it's up to Apple whether they want to make updates to their OS that lock it down like iOS.

I think it would be a clear mistake for them to do it now.

I also think eventually there is little doubt they will do it but we're at least 3-4 years away from that.

What does "should" even mean here? For Apple's best interest or your's and mine? Clearly Apple should buy us all ponies for xmas, it's not like they can't afford it. Man, who doesn't want a free pony?

>I also think eventually there is little doubt they will do it but we're at least 3-4 years away from that.

I certainly hope not. I'm fine with them "locking down" phones and tablets. These are appliances and I can't put Android on my toaster either (well, maybe it's possible). But a computer is something totally different. They can have it locked down by default but they have to always provide a way for power users to do whatever they want. The day they lock down Mac OSX the way their appliances are locked down is the day that every developer who uses them now to have a unix with a decent UI is going to leave.

I support Apple's right to offer you that choice as long as they're not using a broken patent system to take away my choice.

Clearly suing obvious copycat products is what broke the patent system.

If it looks legitimately and works legitimately it will pass the App store review and steal your data on iOS too. This already happened. And it is impossible for the App store reviewers to find all apps that do this. Even if they had the source code they would still need very skilled people to find malicious apps if someone tried to hide the maliciousness. This problem will never be solved. Even with a review process.

Weird that I agree with all three parents at once (no pun intended).

Grownups can make their own life choices to some extent, but society everywhere forbids certain behaviours and activities.

An OS with a software distribution platform that tries to prevent the average user from making mistakes, and that attempts to prevent malicious activity while avoiding being overly restrictive seems a good model.

Not a bad shout for government as well.

App store == France, Marketplace == UK, Play == US?

Or something like that.

I'd love to live in a world where winning arguments are met with seeing your enemies driven before you and the lamentation of the womenfolk instead of moving goalposts but here we are.

"grownups are allowed to make their own choices"

Apple didn't force anyone to buy an iphone. It's always been a curated app market. Grownups should take responsibility for their decisions. If you want a wild west app market you should not buy iOS products and that has always been the case.

> Apple didn't force anyone to buy an iphone.

After Apple has sued the top three Android OEMs in the US (Samsung, HTC and Motorola) and more competitors overseas that statement rings more than a little hollow.

Are Android phones not on sale in every telco store and kiosk where you live? Seems like a strawman argument. We all have choices:

You can buy Apple and use the iOS app store, you can buy Apple and jailbreak, you can buy dozens of different Android phones and use a number of different Android stores many of which are curated beyond what Apple does, you can buy WP7 and use that store (also heavily curated), you can buy a Blackberry and use that store (also curated), etc.

Everyone knows why Samsung got sued, even Google told them to change their design. Motorola sued Apple first and Apple sued HTC first. Nokia sued everyone before any of that but somehow only Apple is the big bad that's taken away everyone's ability to buy non-Apple phones.

How many malicious apps were in the Android store? A few? A dozen? Thats a pretty good ratio out of the hundreds of thousands available.

On a similar line of argument: "How many blocked apps were in the App Store? A few? A dozen? Thats a pretty good ratio out of the hundreds of thousands available."

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

The free bird leaps on the back of the win and floats downstream till the current ends and dips his wings in the orange sun rays and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage can seldom see through his bars of rage his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with fearful trill of the things unknown but longed for still and is tune is heard on the distant hillfor the caged bird sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze an the trade winds soft through the sighing trees and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill of things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom.

Maya Angelou

> How many blocked apps were in the App Store?

An oxymoron?

Part of the problem with the app store is a chilling effect - people don't even try to make controversial apps if they run a large risk of being blocked.

Perhaps you could look at the number of apps in Cydia, since the primary reason to put an app on Cydia is that it does something that would be blocked in the App store. I couldn't find an actual figure but simple searches on the Cydia store show > 35,000 results. I'd say that's much higher than the number of truly malicious Android apps that made it into Google's store and lasted any length of time there.

How would you know how many apps were blocked, if they never showed up in the store?

I actually would've thought the MS Windows Phone App Store would be even more fertile ground. Not sure how stringent their policies are, but a quick Google search only turned up a rejected Twitter content scraping app which was rejected.

Not to mention if anybody needs more apps, its the Windows Phone App store.

The WP store is a little more relaxed than the iOS app store - but - it still doesn't have any way to sideload any apps, which means it's still up to Microsoft, a single central entity, to decide what apps you can install on your device. The same is true for any Metro apps.

Does the WP SDK give you the ability to sideload apps?

At the very least, WP is different from iOS in that their SDK is provided for free (using the express edition of Visual Studio).

No it doesn't. You have to register your phone as one of three with your developer program account which is 79$ per year. The difference to iOS is that your phone is then unlocked for every other developers app signature.

Yeah, as far as I know, the Windows Phone Store certification policies are pretty lax (not sure if that’s reflected in their official terms or their implementation of them; I’m guessing it’s the latter). The only times I hear of apps being rejected or pulled seem to in cases of trademark infringement; and, even-then, only if the infringed-upon company requests them to do so..

I saw this play-out with Vimeo apps not too long ago. Prior to the company launching their (really nice btw) official app there were a few a third-party clients which used the Vimeo name and logo; since then, they've all rebranded or disappeared (I’m guessing at the request of Vimeo to avoid confusion).

Other than that, pretty much everything else seems to fly (I’m guessing security issues and serious bugs that come-up during review aside). This is all anecdotal (I don’t work at Microsoft or review apps for certification) but I’d be pretty shocked if they blocked an app like this.

Anyways, it looks pretty cool, maybe if iOS certification doesn’t go over the dev can port it to WP. For simpler apps (no offense here) I’ve heard it’s fairly quick work and involves a lot less on the testing/optimizing for 1,000+ device SKUs (Android) front.

This is not the first time that Apple has rejected an app on purely political grounds. This may be the first time they've removed something and offended liberal/libertarian sensibilities, but a couple clear examples from a while back:



There's also the "phone story" app that was intended to raise awareness of human rights abuses that go into manufacturing devices such as the iPhone itself.


"Phone Story was pulled from the iTunes App Store on Tuesday September 13 at 11.35am, only few hours after its official announcement."

And this illustrates exactly why I haven't taken most of the attacks on Apple seriously up to now.

Hatred an bigotry aren't "purely political". The fact that certain sick fucks leverage those sentiment for political gain doesn't change that. You can ban apps that are hateful and bigoted for that reason only, without it being a political statement.

This is very different from the drone strike app, which is not objectionable in any way if you remove the political dimension.

I was actually remarkably offended when they removed the former app. Exodus is wrong and ex-gay conversion violates APA guidelines, but that doesn't make the app inherently bigoted, which is a remarkably weighty term that I'd prefer leave reserved for people like the Westboro Baptist Church.

Exodus claims to 'provide support' for people who want to 'recover' from homosexuality. Predatory? Misleading? Sure. Immoral? I'd say so.

But unlike homophobes, I don't agree with censoring speech that I disagree with and forcing my beliefs on other people.

I'd much rather let the app stand, have it receive 1-star ratings, have alternate competing apps (ie, from pro-gay groups) come up in the search results, etc.

Why? Because I'm certain I'm right and that ex-gay conversion is wrong, and I'm certain that, if the truth and the lies are laid out side-by-side in the plain light of day, eventually, the truth will prove itself.

"Predatory? Misleading? Sure. Immoral? I'd say so.

But unlike homophobes, I don't agree with censoring speech that I disagree with and forcing my beliefs on other people."

Does this even follow? "Predatory" and "misleading" should be enough to remove the app in the first place -- you don't need to assume they removed it because they disagreed with its politics.

One man's "predatory and misleading" is another man's gospel truth. Putting the authority to decide who is right and wrong on these matters in the hands of a single, all-powerful arbiter is just begging for abuse.

"Putting the authority to decide who is right and wrong on these matters in the hands of a single, all-powerful arbiter is just begging for abuse."

For all of society yes but for one company's store, that's just how the free market works. Walmart like Apple and many other merchants decided they didn't want to sell porn in their store. If you're offended by this decision of theirs you are free to take your business elsewhere.

That argument is getting old. I can buy some things from Walmart, and the things they don't sell from some other store. In the mobile apps world this is not possible.

Apple has a monopoly on iOS app distribution, and that makes their behavior so worrying. And of course it has enboldened Microsoft to follow the same model, something they probably would have never attempted on their own.

I'm offended by that decision for the exact reason of the slippery slopes that such things invariably lead to as the original article clearly demonstrates.

I'm not taking my business elsewhere because they won't put porn in their store, I have already taken my business elsewhere because I KNEW beforehand that it would ultimately lead to censoring arbitrary stuff for all the wrong reasons.

Turns out I was right.

Or rejecting apps by pulitzer prize winning political cartoonists for "Ridiculing Public Figures" - http://www.tuaw.com/2010/04/15/when-youre-good-enough-for-a-...

Jobs responded to that case at D8 conference. He said it was a mistake ("We had a rule: you can't defame people. We thought it was sane to have such a rule, but the problem is that political cartoons, by definition, defame politicians. So, we made an exception for political cartoons") and they soon changed their guidelines to let the app in, but the developer never bothered to re-submit the app.

That app isn't defamatory though. Caricature isn't defamatory without associated symbolism or represented actions to make claims about the individual represented. Drawing a silly picture isn't enough, you would have to draw a picture of someone doing something negative that they do not do, in a way that implies to the viewer that this person really does this thing and that you are not just joking about it.

Well that's the problem eh, you can't do censorship without bumping into hypocrisy (be it on the left or the right side).

    UPDATE: NYT is reporting Mr. Fiore has been "encouraged" 
    by Apple to re-submit. So the lesson here? Win a 
    Pulitzer, get a 2nd chance at the App Store.
Cute. Also this part, so very clearly underlines the reason why so many people start screaming about slippery slopes as soon as censorship enters the picture (even though the article's author does not seem to realize this):

    Look Apple, I supported some of your bans in the past 
    -- like your ban on sexy junk apps -- but political 
    cartooning is *slightly* different.
First they came for the "sexy junk" apps, but I didn't speak out ...

That said, why has simplistic stuff like this to be an App? You could implement that in an email newsletter, a Twitter account, an RSS feed. An old-fashioned web site.

> politically motivated rejection

Probably that is the reason. But when I first heard of that App I did think of "torture porn". You practically track the death of people. How is that App used? Imagine being at lunch and you get a new notification. What do you do with that kind of Information? Why do you want that? Certainly not to grief, because it would desensitize you. I imagine the people who would install it (and leave it installed) would be from the opposite side of the spectrum and militaristic nuts: "Hell yeah, another 7 terrorist brownies taken down!"

  How is that App used? Imagine being at launch and you get
  a new notification. What do you do with that kind of 
  Information? Why do you want that?
I for one would want that because we're so separated from our actions that even those of us who are appalled by it don't think about it daily. I say _our_ because we as a people could put the screws to our government if enough of us actually cared. As to what you do with it, I think the intent is to start a conversation then and there. Tell other people what just happened, tell them to install the app. If that happens enough times I think it might jar something loose in the social consciousness.

It sounds better than sticking my head in the sand and pretending it's not happening. As for being desensitized, are you serious? _That's_ your argument against raising awareness of drone strikes? We're already desensitized to the violence we perpetrate on others. It doesn't even make the news if it has to compete with the latest celebrity gossip.

Stifling of political opinions by a media corporation is no less censorship than actions undertaken by a government. You can check the dictionary, there are plenty of non-governmental definitions.

This isn't the first time Apple's removed an app for political reasons:


Now, I happen to agree with the politics in that case, but it also illustrates the broader point: A curated app store is inevitably entangled in politics. Approving an app can be just as political a decision as rejecting it.

I can understand Apple wanting to keep its market place "clean", but at the very least, iDevice owners should be able to opt-in to seeing apps like this. Why can't it just be flagged "adult" or something, and you can then opt-in on your device to seeing apps flagged as such?

Why does Apple think it is suitable to make these decisions on your behalf, iDevice users? Are you happy with this?

Personally, I'll be sticking with my HTC device running Cyanogenmod.

I believe the following parts of the iOS App Store Review Guidelines answer your question:

* We have lots of kids downloading lots of apps, and parental controls don't work unless the parents set them up (many don't). So know that we're keeping an eye out for the kids.

* We will reject Apps for any content or behavior that we believe is over the line. What line, you ask? Well, as a Supreme Court Justice once said, "I'll know it when I see it". And we think that you will also know it when you cross it.

* This is a living document, and new apps presenting new questions may result in new rules at any time. Perhaps your app will trigger this.

* Lastly, we love this stuff too, and honor what you do. We're really trying our best to create the best platform in the world for you to express your talents and make a living too. If it sounds like we're control freaks, well, maybe it's because we're so committed to our users and making sure they have a quality experience with our products. Just like almost all of you are too.

The mobile platform is looking more and more like the central computing platform of the next decade at least and it's way too important to allow one company's Romper Room sensibilities to determine what is and is not expressible in this new medium. I don't want to live in a digital Disneyworld.

"Protecting the children" is always the scoundrel's excuse for pushing censorship and control over the line of a sensible balance.

None of that answers my question.

Why can't adults opt in to seeing adult apps?

There are literally hundreds of millions of non-iDevice smartphone users who don't live with these restrictions and who are not being harmed at all. Is there something special about iDevice users that means they need extra protection? Of course not.

"Why can't adults opt in to seeing adult apps?"

Because Apple made the iPhone and they own the iOS store and they decided they could make more money with it this way.

"There are literally hundreds of millions of non-iDevice smartphone users who don't live with these restrictions and who are not being harmed at all. "

This is called assuming your conclusion. There are certainly standards at Google Play and Amazon's Android app store, not every Android user can sideload apps and the idea that no one has been harmed by uncurated stores is strictly false in general and in specific cases like this basically unknowable.

'Because Apple made the iPhone and they own the iOS store and they decided they could make more money with it this way.'

That's a statement of fact, but does not answer the question of why.

I think it does, they are saying that even an adult-only opt-in is flawed because thats the same as the child restrictions, it's often not set up.

The last point is probably why a lot of parents buy iPhones for their children.

As for the app in question, I find nothing objectionable about it, im sure the same information is available through Safari, but i suppose the same argument applies to adults wanting to see this content, stop whining about not having an app to do it and just look it up online.

Opt-in is quite obviously not the same as opt-out (via restrictions) so it's dubious to compare the two. The parent poster was asking for a way to allow iOS users a way to voluntarily and explicitly enable content that may be deemed objectionable by some. It's not the same as restrictions, because the device is passively not going to allow those types of applications.

It is effectively the same. Unless the parent sets up parental controls (which they aren't going to do) there's nothing stopping the kid from opting in.

You're making unfounded conclusions about a hypothetical feature Apple hasn't implemented.

I can think of at least one way to make it difficult for a kid to opt-in (I'm sure there are others): require the opt-in to be done online and require re-authorizing the credit card associated with the iTunes account. If it's good enough to get an email account out of a COPPA jail, it's good enough here.

The first point seems to cover it: Kids will just opt-in too.

Then ask for a password, credit card number, whatever.

I'm not sure how a password can validate a person's age and I had a credit card long before I was 18.

The whole issue is a complete red herring anyway. Safari is accessible by default, and gives children access to a universe of objectionable content that the App Store could only dream of.

If "parents don't bother enabling parental controls" was an actual excuse, they couldn't ship a web browser!

"I had a credit card long before I was 18"

And this is a different problem that also needs to solved.

Why? It was a great way to learn financial responsibility and start building a credit history. I have never gone a month without paying the balance off in full, so it seemed to serve me well.

People jumping into credit late in life as an adult without any teachings on how to properly manage their financials is the greater problem here.

Why? Because one needs to be 18 to legally sign a contract.

If you had a credit card before 18, that means you were added on your parents account as an authorized user and you were piggybacking off of their credit history.

The greater problem here is that credit cards exist in the first place.

How is it a problem that credit cards exist? Credit cards are incredibly useful for two reasons, IMHO.

1. It's like having a proxy between your actual accounts and your purchasing. A stolen credit card is annoying and easy to rectify. A stolen debit card is terrifying.

2. Sometimes in life, an expense arises that exceeds both income and savings. When this happens, we either pay with credit (of some kind), we don't meet our financial responsibilities, or we go without. Sometimes the best option is to go without. When that is not possible, the credit card is a good answer. Pay off your balance responsibly and as quickly as possible and either save more in the future or be prepared to pay interest again.

+1 for stolen debit card. Aside from fraud liability agreements, in the absence of them, it creates an upper bound on the damage that can be dealt.

Credit cards are a short-term loan which doesn't require approval for every stupid minutiae. Ever signed a loan? Takes a bit of setup. Imagine doing that while paying for fast food. Pain in the ass. Take it for what it was meant to be: a loan system. Saying "credit cards exist is a problem" is like saying the concept of loaning money is bad, which I will handily point you to for-profit startups and non-profits that all either make or use loans to bring about positive change.

> The greater problem here is that credit cards exist in the first place.

Perhaps in the recent age of debit cards, but credit cards filled a massive void in the usability of cash. And it is often still more convenient to manage your money transfers after the fact.

I just don't get the negativity. They're a great tool when used appropriately. You can't really fault the tool if people use it inappropriately.

Depends a lot on what you mean by credit card, stuff like Visa Electron is called a credit card by visa but it is actually a debit card that is impossible to overdraft.

Is it really Apples place to police that?

Probably not, but their views are their own to make.

I think I missed something. I'm pretty sure I knew what death was before I hit puberty. Does this app include photos of the result of the strikes? Is there supposed to be a "talk" you have with your kids around age 12 or 13 where you explain what drones are and reveal for the first time that there is a war in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

Many places encourage the kids to pledge allegiance to the country carrying out those strikes. It seams like that talk should happen before they're taught the pledge.

If they have a parental control feature, recognize that it's not usually turned on, so set app store policy assuming parental control isn't on, but that style of protection is desirable ... why don't they just default parental control to "on"? Or at least make it a device-setup-time prompt?

Of the "iOS' walled garden is anticonsumer" concerns - the one that's in regular demonstration is Apple's refusal to allow adults to indicate that they really are grown up enough to be exposed to content regarding politics, religion, war and, yeah, even sex.

"...parental controls don't work unless the parents set them up (many don't)."

This is still the problem. You don't know whether the kid or the parent opened the box and set the phone up the first time.

If my kid someone ordered a cellphone without my knowledge and got it shipped to my house and opened it and set it up, I have a lot bigger problems than him finding sex or "wrong" political opinions on that phone.

While I know some people at HN would still be mad if the App Store defaulted to "kid safe," it's a fix with much smaller side-effects than outright bans. Assuming "to protect the kids" is really the motive.

Now suppose that clueless suburban soccer mom got her kid an iPhone and doesn't [want to] know anything about configuring this device. Box arrives, she hands it to the kid.

Yes, this parent has problems. And it's this situation that Apple thinks they're watching out for.

Then the kid stumbles across adult material on his new fancy phone, and is apparently scarred for life.

Oh wait, this already "happens". The phones come with webbrowsers.

So set it to "child-safe" mode by default, and require a credit card or other age-verification mechanism to unlock it.

I really don't understand what problem Apple is trying to solve.

Cynically, I'd say Apple is (successfully, judging by the commentary here) solving the problem of finding reasonable-sounding justifications of their app store approval process (and the inevitable arbitrary decisions that come with it).

They're trying to avoid the situation where they have to stand up to a morality-in-the-media-type group and defend someone else's freedom of expression.

Allowing the web is PR-defensible: "it's the web". But when it comes to things you explicitly review and choose to allow in your store, you're forced to either stand up for adults' right to that content, or you preemptively censor yourself and your suppliers. (a la Walmart)

Wow, I thought you were joking and making it up. But it turns out these are actual store guidelines, and they are written in this style.

BS argument through and through.

1st* You need an Apple ID with a credit card to use the App Store. Ergo, adult work. Ergo, parental controls can be integrated into the credit card screen by the simple checkbox "Is the user of this account an adult?"

2nd* Supreme Court Justice is given the authority by the state to decide on immense matters after years of honorable (which is their title, by the way) service. Nice attempt at equating that with an app review team, whose job, according to an Apple employee, is to look "at things that may or may not be dcks all day long."

3rd Blabla.

4th* More blabla with qualifiers to look like one of us.

> You need an Apple ID with a credit card to use the App Store. Ergo, adult work. Ergo, parental controls can be integrated into the credit card screen by the simple checkbox "Is the user of this account an adult?"

I'm pretty sure you don't, at least beyond the first-time setup of the account. My son has an iTunes account and we "fund" it through iTunes gift cards. There is no credit card attached at all. Once his gift card credit is used up, no more purchases for him.

Isn't safari only a few clicks away anyway.. after all the web is darker than any app store.

You don't need a credit card to open an iTunes account. Select None for payment type when creating the account after switching country and purchasing a free app. Then use gift cards from the target country, which can be purchased here and there. http://lancewiggs.com/2010/04/13/how-to-have-a-us-itunes-acc...

Not to mention Visa gift cards.

If parental control is truly the main issue, face detection algorithms that also assess your age could be a solution [1], but then again, it seems like Samsung is owning the patent for this [2]. Oops!

Sources: 1. http://www.sync-blog.com/sync/2012/04/how-old-do-you-look-fa...

2. http://www.google.com/patents/US8218080

The review guidelines have a surprisingly human tone to them.

They certainly do: simultaneously arrogant, condescending and vague.

I didn't say they were friendly. They just don't sound like typical legal boilerplate.

Yes, many (but not all) of Apple's developer documents do, especially developer release notes for new and/or experimental features.

Properly written that way to make you feel connected to a human - and not some cold, no feeling facistic reviewer.

I don't know, I read it in the voice of GladOS.

How do those last two points have anything to do with his question?

"Why can't it just be flagged "adult" or something, and you can then opt-in on your device to seeing apps flagged as such?"

Presumably they think they will make more money by excluding those apps for now.

"Why does Apple think it is suitable to make these decisions on your behalf, iDevice users?"

Because that's the way stores work. The owner of the store decides what goods to sell in his store. A clothes designer has no guarantees that Neiman Marcus or Nordstrom's or Macy's or Walmart will carry any or all of their products.

"Are you happy with this?"

I'm happy the iOS app store is curated, yes.

Well they do have iKamasutra in the app store, used to at least. A good app, by the way.

Apparently it ran into inconsistent reviewing too: http://techcrunch.com/2012/04/17/ikamasutra-a-tale-of-sex-lo...

The irony is that this news aggregator is being denied, yet someone could make a game called "Drone Wars" where you operate a drone on missions and Apple would have no problem with it.

Very true words, and this irony is what should really be the matter here. It's "objectionable content" to receive reports on death penalties issued by the US government, carried out by unmanned planes at some part of the world no one in the US really cares about? Well, yeah. Thanks, Apple, for keeping your sweet and "entertaining" app store clean of this ugly and objectionable thing called reality.

It's called freedom - freedom from objectionable things.

Perhaps the coder could make a game, which invites you to play at flying each drone attack as each one gets reported in, with lots of american flags and funny voiced terrorists to kill. Call it "Patriot Death Force" and have a heavy metal sound track and stuff.

That would probably get through fine.

Love it. I suspect if the app was based on real data it'd be blocked. Apple would let you attack the same spots though.

Thank you, Apple, for protecting me from a news aggregation/notification and mapping app like this one. I'll stick to my fart sound boards and purchasing currency for manipulative "games" with zero actual entertainment value any day!

Have you tried to submit a fart sound board lately? How was your success in doing so?

Your argument is invalid. The fart sound board market is pretty saturated, but there isn't any drone strike mapping apps.

Offending people's tender sensibilities should not be a reason to reject an app.

You build your billion dollar app store and you can run it the way you want.

Every comment you have made on this page has been in reply to someone's criticism of the App store's horrid policy.

Every riposte you have given has been that Apple have the right to choose their policy.

Yes, Apple may have a right to have a horrid policy. But that doesn't make the policy any less horrid.

The horridness of the policy is the whole point. You have therefore missed the point every time, with every answer.

I'm not missing the point, I'm contesting it. You're assuming the conclusion that the policy is horrid. No, that's what is under debate. I'm fine with the policy of not approving this app.

I'm sorry you came here to here a dittohead fest where everyone echo'd your views and didn't get it.

I've heard developers echo your sentiment right up until it was their app that was rejected. Pride cometh before a fall.

Contesting the point would be to explain why the policy is not horrid, to the people who regard it as censorship and therefore horrid, by addressing the point.

You did not do that, you said "Build your own Apple then!".

This comment is the closest you ever came to defending the policy, by saying "I'm fine with it". But you're not trying to convince anyone else by providing any information or reasons. Rather, you're asserting that they can't possibly convince you.

And you have resorted to a low by attacking me personally as a "dittohead".

I've addressed why it's not horrid all over the place in this thread. The goods that store X sells are not chosen by the public or by committee or by anything else. They are chosen by whoever owns store X. That's how every store works and if store X doesn't want to sell pornography or political merchandise or whatever that's up to them. And if you think Apple is horrid for having the same policy as virtually every other store in history then by equivalence they are all horrid. That's obviously absurd so your claim is false. QED.

No, if Apple's policy is not to sell the drone app, and (let's assume) Google's policy is to sell the drone app, these are not the same policy by definition.

(Therefore you cannot claim that all stores have the same policy. This stuff is high-school level logic and I don't understand why you have difficulty with it.)

In which case I am perfectly free to find Apple's policy horrid, and find the hypothetical Android store policy commendable.

From the reddit comments -- I'm surprised nobody on Hacker News brought this up before reddit!

> Mobile app developer here... It was probably rejected because all it is is a web page wrapped in an app.

> > 2.12 Apps that are not very useful, are simply web sites bundled as apps, or do not provide any lasting entertainment value may be rejected

> Which this app clearly is. It's not even using the mapkit API. It's just a link to a web page.

Nope. As quoted directly in the article:

The Cupertino company says the content is “objectionable and crude,” according to Apple’s latest rejection letter.

Any user base who would give up a little freedom for a little security, will end up with a platform-specific app store.

Actually killing people is "objectionable and crude". Telling people about it, in an attempt to stop further killings, is anything but.

I think iOS is better than Android. I support the idea of a walled garden in principle (as long as it isn't a monopoly, and in this case it isn't. People can choose Android or others).

But the free flow of honest information is fundamental to democracy. This is stupid and gutless editorial censorship on Apple's part (unless there's some detail about this story that I'm missing). I hope someone higher up sees this, reverses the decision, and clarifies their internal standards on this.

Fucking lame Apple! Shape the fuck up!

@Rudism: ditto.

You support a walled garden, but not if it blocks information?

I'm sorry, but that's completely contradictory. The point of the wall is that it blocks things Apple don't approve of.

You can support an approach and also believe someone is doing it stupidly, or even unethically, all without being contradictory.

For example, do you support the right of a newspaper editor to pick and choose which letters to the editor get published? How about a restaurant's reserved "right to refuse service to anyone"? If you do, you still reserve the right in each of these cases to object to individual decisions, and to refuse patronage if an individual decision or a pattern of decisions offends you. All without contradicting yourself.

But that's exactly the problem with the benevolent dictatorship model. Sooner or later this kind of absolute power is used unwisely or outright abused and you have no recourse.

This is why almost every country in the world has abandoned monarchy. It's ultimately too error-prone and inefficient.

What you seem to propose as an alternative to monarchy is not democracy, but anarchy. No rules sounds great in principle...

Even Linux has King Linus. And Android has King Page, Queen Rubin and a host of Lords (Verizon, AT&T, Samsung, etc). Don't kid yourself.

Furthermore, we're talking about a product, a phone, not national governments or the sovereignty of citizens over them. Poor strawman.

> Even Linux has King Linus.

Once upon a time (a few years ago), King Linus and his nobles weren't terribly happy with many of the technical decisions the Android team made. How did King Linus exercise his sovereignty? Did it stop the Android team from doing what they wanted?

You're missing the point. Linux would never have gotten to the point of being useful for Android if Linus Torvalds didn't have a benevolent dictatorship.

Anyway, if you are truly for freedom, support Apple's freedom to do things its way and Google's to do things its way. You can follow whichever one you want. Or did you want to dictate to me and millions of others that they can't choose a walled-garden such as Apple's if that's what we want?

You want to shove your preferred freedom down our throats?

You want to shove your preferred freedom down our throats?

Not at all. Make yourself right at home in your cozy walled garden. Just stop using bogus patent suits to drive the products I want to buy off the shelves and compete on features instead.

My point is that whatever you want to call the governance model of Linux it isn't anything like a (non-joking) dictatorship. A real dictator could and would have stopped the Android team from leaving (i.e. made them do things his way or not at all). Linus not only didn't stop them from leaving, he couldn't.

When the benevolence is built-in, it isn't a dictatorship, it's something else. And something else doesn't support your argument about walled gardens, it undermines it.

With an Android phone I can limit myself to what's available on Google Play or I can patronize any of the third-party app markets or I can manually side-load any app I want. If I don't like a particular vendor's form factor or UI customizations I have many alternatives. Those of us unafraid of a little variety call this choice, not anarchy.

And in a world where a lot of people access the internet only through a phone these decisions carry a lot more weight than your choice of shoes or your car.

The ideal walled garden would be one that blocks spammy apps and malware - but not information. I think it's reasonable to support walled gardens in principle but be critical of some aspects of the Apple implementation.

I really despise the usage of a "Slippery Slope" claim, but I think that this really embodies the idea.

We have enough problems as is with anti-malware software throwing false positives, so who is to say that Apple can do any better? Likewise, "spammy apps" and "malware" are terms subject to definitions given by the curator. If we use past history as any indicator, then it seems Apple has already proven that the company has it's own definitions for these terms.

"I really despise the usage of a "Slippery Slope" claim, but I think that this really embodies the idea."

Huh? This does not parse.

Slippery Slope is a logical fallacy: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/slippery-slope.html

This is one example everyone should know: http://www.quora.com/How-can-supporters-of-gay-marriage-refu...

The logical fallacy here is the assumption that the guidelines imposed by apple won't lead to straight up draconian rules, which they almost already have. There is a reason why utopias do not exist.

Jeez louis, who's making that logical fallacy? Don't put your interpretation into other people's mouths. The moment Apple crosses a line, I'll bail. But I disagree that it has. It's just a fucking phone, for Christ's sake. And you can still do this app as a web app.

It's a question of two imperfect approaches. Google's "open" Android market (it isn't quite totally open is it?) is far from utopia too, no? All that malware sucks for non-technical users. Why not allow users the choice between both approaches? Or shall we follow your "draconian rule" and disallow this choice?

You should get an actual (and logical) understanding of "logical fallacy" and then review your comments above. Sigh.

One point to make: I didn't give you any downmods, because I can't and refuse to do so.

Let me see if I can explain this in more detail. I'm not saying the android market is perfect, nor am I saying that the iOS market is an ideal solution. My point is that the original statement:

> The ideal walled garden would be one that blocks spammy apps and malware - but not information

is a logical fallacy. Information is a very broad term, so the assumption that an overlord curator can perform their job in a non-invasive manner while magically defining what "bad" means is a road to hell. What we need is effectively the reddit of app stores; one curated by the community instead of a black box of employees. The tyranny of the democratic majority is still an issue, but it seems that this is a far more fair solution than what exists now.

It is an effort in futility to find the perfect end all solution, because that utopia can't exist. I would, however, rather have the risk of getting coal instead of diamonds instead of just what a company tells me is a diamond.

I respect you for your refusal to downmod.

But as to "logical fallacy"... as Inigo Montoya would say, You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

It's just a fucking phone, for Christ's sake.

There's a lot more at stake here than that. These kinds of devices are quickly becoming the primary or even the only means of accessing the internet for a lot of people.

Sure, in theory a well curated walled garden is the perfect solution. In practice, though, there will always be disagreements between what should and shouldn't be outside those walls. And this is just my opinion, but a walled garden run by a giant corporation will always be seriously flawed.

I support a walled garden, as long as there is always a door that I can open.

The door leads to the walled garden next door. What do?

I think that this kind of abuse is an irresistable temptation of a walled garden. If the garden's curators don't succumb to it themselves, the single-point-of-pressure is too much of a temptation to would-be government or external private sector censors.

When dealing with situations like this, we have a couple options. We can accept walled gardens and hope that the gardeners are made of stern stuff and love freedom.

Or we can reject walled gardens and demand ecosystems in which this kind of blocking can't happen, not just won't.

I prefer worlds where it can't. Trusting that it won't is setting up for disappointment IMO.

Exactly. Didn't some senator asked Apple to remove some app in the early days? When Apple acts like this with their store, it's almost irresistible for the Government to ask them to remove some other apps they don't like either.

Apple has never stated that the purpose of the appstore is to support democracy. And I think it would be hard to argue that the availability of apps (or lack thereof) in Apple's store, which is not even close to a monopoly, has any impact on democracy. I think what's really going on here is that Apple wants to avoid providing apps that might be politically divisive.

EDIT: qualifying availability of apps as within Apples' App Store

>I think what's really going on here is that Apple wants to avoid providing apps that might be politically divisive.

That's called "censorship".

Apple's store has an impact on democracy because Apple is very influential and other companies are likely to imitate their policies. Lots of young people are getting exposed to Apple's flavor of personal computer so, to them, censorship of software will seem normal.

I concede that it may be censorship. So is Walmart's decision not to sell certain CDs or Blockbuster's decision not to stock certain movies. Android Marketplace (or Google Play) has more apps than the Apple App Store (http://www.androidauthority.com/google-android-market-vs-app...). Clearly, Apple's policies have not been imitated. Apple's censorship has, in fact, become a point of differentiation for other markets, thereby drawing more attention to the issue. And I don't concede that young people will accept censorship of software because they're exposed to apple products. It's all conjecture but given that Android phones are cheaper and have more market share then iOS I find that last statement to be extremely speculative.

Newspapers are very influential, more so than Apple. Will you claim that they should print all letters to the editor, with no discretion?

How about Hacker News? Shall we lobby pg to remove the ability to flag an article, and let this place turn into Reddit?

Yesterday an article I liked had a healthy debate going. It was flagged as not fit for HN (It was political, about race not technology in any way) and it was taken off. I was initially annoyed but I agree with the decision. Isn't there a benefit to having distinction (HN vs Reddit), or choice as all the Android fans preach?

[Please read my other comments before you assume I agree with Apple's decision here.]

>Newspapers are very influential, more so than Apple. Will you claim that they should print all letters to the editor, with no discretion?

Newspapers have limited space and no filtering capabilities for readers.

>How about Hacker News? Shall we lobby pg to remove the ability to flag an article, and let this place turn into Reddit?

I have the choice to use my web browser to read sites other than HN (and I don't need to jailbreak my browser to do so).

And you don't have the choice to buy a different brand of phone?

Limited space is NOT why newspapers have editors. There's a reason the NY Times is so different from the Wall Street Journal.

As I just said in another comment, Even Linux has King Linus. And Android has King Page, Queen Rubin and a host of Lords (Verizon, AT&T, Samsung, etc). Don't kid yourself.

And to repeat, I think Apple's decision in this case is lame and cowardly.

A letter to the editor is similar to an app? How?

In the sense that private censorship isn't something we should be overly concerned with. This isn't government censorship, this is a private business making a business decision. Go into any store and start yelling at the customers like a street preacher. You will be asked to leave. Same thing at any party. That isn't ehrmagahd censorship.

Yep, censorship. Legal, profitable censorship. Caveat emptor.

"I think iOS is better than Android."

That might've been true during the first few versions of Android but I don't think that's the case nowadays. I sold my iPad 2 and bought a Nexus 7 and I don't really miss anything. I certainly do NOT miss not being able to sideload software outside of an app store, or the lack of customization.

In fact I feel that the interface in Jelly Bean is an improvement over iOS in many ways. And it has stronger cloud support, I particularly like how it sync with my online, public Picasa galleries and the like.

Why did you open with that sentence? Were you replying to someone or just trying to instigate an argument?

I was trying to show that even though I prefer Apple's product and even though I think the walled garden is a legitimate idea, I think in this instance (and many others) Apple is being stupid and cowardly.

Most people on HN, probably with good reason, assume that people take sides in a specific argument based on their Android-Apple loyalty.

[I don't distrust Apple's intent any more than I do any other profit-driven business (i.e. Google is included). Apple has many times owned up to their app rejection mistakes. See http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4454530]

If you're in the U.S. or many other countries you aren't in an actual democracy anyway. 1 vote != 1 vote.

I voted up your comment, but can you give me an example of a country that is a democracy by your definition? What is your definition?

[Jeez louis... why did this comment get downvoted? Shees!]

I read your comments where you mentioned Louis a couple of times before I realized you were probably saying (what I'd spell as) geez louise.

I kept clicking on the usernames of the people you replied to trying to find how you knew them as Louis. :)

ha! Thanks for setting me straight!

Only just saw this. I'm not sure specifically of any countries that are democratic by my definition. An issue that needs to be fixed, if they want to claim to be democratic, is to have proportional representation - so outcomes don't favour larger political groups; In Canada for example, there are many people who would vote for Green party don't, they vote Liberal say the Conservatives don't get more power. People don't feel safe voting for who'd they vote for because their vote won't count. See http://www.fairvote.ca/ ...

I hate when people cling to this middle school notion that a republic is not a democracy. An indirect democracy is a form of democracy.

Do you understand the difference between proportional representation voting vs. non-PR voting?

"Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. " - Wikipedia

A republic isn't by default a democracy. Non-PR voting doesn't allow all citizens to have an equal say because their vote doesn't count if they vote for smaller political parties; At minimum it's not taking away seats from other parties, and not showing the genuine support for smaller parties -- and the bigger political parties know this and is why they want to keep the system this way.

I figured s/he was making a more nuanced point, e.g. the influence of money in politics, not the one you are implying. Id you are right, I recind my upvote!

democracy is not as simple as 1 vote == 1 vote...

if you define "many other countries" as "all other democracies" your statement might be closer to the truth...

I think it's important to be reasonable in cases like this and realize that companies willing to undertake censorship like this on behalf of government will surely (and happily) do things like install payloads on your device without permission. It's really a very small leap to expect this.

Helping nations keep track of progress through their crimes against humanity is more IBM's business.

Apple is merely interested in the fall from grace, not the accounting.

Build an Android version, I doubt that the Play Store will block the app. And if it does you can have it one of the 1- other available stores.

They don't block any apps. They just remove the ones that do not abide by the rules. Also Google is pretty liberal itself and likes free information (Well, they are a search engine. of course they do) and I do not think they would remove it even if it would say "And this is why democrats suck" in big-red letters on every report. You are free to use the app or to not use it. It's your decision in the end.

Apple's dystopian system is working as designed. If you're going to take offense, let it be that they granted themselves the power to do this at all, not whether they got around to using it or for what. I just worry how many customers may not care what they opted into even if they knew.

The Cupertino company says the content is “objectionable and crude,” according to Apple’s latest rejection letter.

"We train young men to drop fire on people. But their commanders won't allow them to write F-U-C-K on their airplanes... because...? it's obscene!"

-- Colonel Walter E. Kurtz

This is a tempest in a teapot. Obviously the same content could be placed on a Web page containing an incarnation of Google Maps, with an updated overlay containing publicly available data about air strikes. Then iPod/iDevice owners could simply launch a browser and visit the site for the latest data.

It's obvious from the article graphic that the app is using Google Maps to display its data, so hosting it in a Web page would produce the same outcome, even the same appearance.

Indeed, given the move to so-called cloud computing and the public nature of the data being displayed, that's a more obvious way to accomplish the program's role -- put it on the Web and publish the page's address.

The creator stated push notifications as one of the main points of the application. Rather than being about getting raw information, this app is more about general awareness.

An issue easily solved by the user pressing "Refresh" on a Web page, or the provider designing a page that refreshes itself at 30-second intervals, and avoiding this entire brouhaha.

If the app was something other than an obvious and trivial Google Maps incarnation, this might be different, and I am in no way excusing Apple's paternalistic behavior, but it isn't as though the content is being suppressed by their decision.

It's better overall if this is a Web page -- it lifts the restriction of being an iOS app, it opens the source to anyone with a working browser. It's a more robust solution to what seems to be a non-problem.

I still think you're missing the point. The point was someone would be going about their normal day, and intermittently receive notifications of a disturbing event from the phone in their pocket. A webpage breaks this, as users have to seek out the information.

Again, this app is more a creative endeavor than a tool. The author is thinking of ways to make people more aware of something, forcing them to think about it during their day, not trying to give them raw information. (Granted, one must still decide they want to be forced to think about this during their day, as they have to install the app and allow push notifications.)

I'm also not making any judgements on Apple or the app itself. I'm just trying to explain what I think the creators' intentions are, and why a webpage is not suited for those intentions.

Why have meeting alerts? I could just check my calendar. Why have text message alerts? I could just check my inbox...

What's more, this incident likely created more interest than they would have ever had -had this not been rejected. Not saying rejection was their anticipated motive, but in retrospect, it did give the data visibility. So, in that sense, it is a likely positive outcome for their purpose.

Agreed -- and not unlike filmmakers who tune their film during editing to achieve an R rating, or better, who create some pre-release publicity around what rating the film should have.

Everything now is an app, distributed inside walled gardens. Censorship! Yay!

In other news: just make stuff like this as a mobile site.

This is a mobile site with a native wrapper- that's why it isn't allowed.

Mobile-wrapper apps are indeed allowed. This one was rejected specifically for "crude" content.

Whoa. Now Apple is providing censorship for our [corrupt] government. Sigh.

They go hand in hand, I'd say.

I think drone strikes are pretty fucking objectionable. Showing them on a map? Not so much.

Big Apple is watching [out for] you.

I typically support Apple's app store limitations, but come _on_ guys. This is almost as silly as the Mark Fiore situation.

Instead of calling this a political move, I'm wondering if they would allow an app that tracks murder victims across the US as they happen. My guess is that it would be rejected too for the same reasons, which are probably not political. This would simply be, as they said, crude. And IMHO, inappropriate.

Would either side of the "national drone debate" (if there is such a thing) object to this app?

Those opposed to it would like to know what's happening.

Those in favor would like to see how effective it is.

I can't see either side objecting, so I agree with you that it's probably the fact that it's about death that is the reason they were rejected.

Or an app that tracks crime, classifiable by type? That would be useful. As would thus app be to many journalists. This is a slippery slope.

Nice to know no iOS app can help out if some day drones start strafing my country (cue arab spring etc.)

One more reason to develop for the open web instead of someone else's platform.

Apple is literally preventing lifesaving technology from being deployed into the world. Due to this politically-motivated decision, actual real live human beings are being denied a simple tool that could allow them to literally avoid death.

If we aren't civilized enough to distinguish between combatants and foreigners (is has been clearly shown that we are not), we could at least have the decency to give the spectators to our fireworks shows a warning.

Hyperbole much? This isn't a realtime tracking app that shows a drone in flight as it launches a Hellfire missile towards someone on President Obama's hit list...

Unlike most of the posters in this thread, I don't think Apple's rejection of the app is political. Most likely, they want to protect themselves against future legal liability, since there is a risk that the US government (specifically the Department of Defense, or Department of Homeland Security) will question the legality of drone tracking programs if they haven't already.

This is a news aggregator. How can that be illegal in the US?

Interesting point, but if the US gov doesn't want that app in the app store, then Apple could just say "it wasn't us" instead of taking the heat.

"About two weeks later, on July 23, Apple told him was just too blah."

What is this supposed to say?

I came here to see if anybody else noticed this too.

The only thing I can think of is an oversight by a lazy copy editor, just like the occasional [TK] that slips into print.

Though this is becoming increasingly rare, both because the [TK] notation is losing popularity, and because having copy editors at all is also losing popularity....

Clearly not as desirable as just having the finished app approved, but a drones twitter account that posts every time the strike database is updated sounds like an itch worth scratching to me.

iOS privacy app returns as a web app

Bitdefender says that Apple removed the application, which previously was a paid product, from the iOS App Store in June, but hasn't given it a reason for doing so. A potential cause could have been that Clueful tried to auto-detect a user's installed iOS apps so it could then display information about them.


I can just imagine some bored senator turning an app like this into an indictment of how Apple supports anti-Americanism and dodges taxes.

Meh, it should be a web app anyway.

Is this information available on a web page somewhere?

What if this request was from the govt?

if you want the conspiracy side of this, wrong guy is in office.

I know people are getting killed in Afghanistan. Why would I want to know how many and when?

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