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Apple Shields Our Eyes From Bikinis

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Hypocritical new rules turn App Store into 17th-Century New England.

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For ages, identifying obscenity meant holding the work up to a nebulous definition. Like beauty, what was regarded as obscene depended on the eye of the beholder -- leading to much confusion and even more contention. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart coined the phrase "I know it when I see it" as a catchall for any work without officially ascribing a list of forbidden subjects written in stone.

While no organization has single-handedly defined such a subjective premise successfully, that matters very little to Apple (AAPL). The company has pulled more than 5,000 apps from its App Store and revealed a shockingly puritanical set of rules to one of the developers.

The matter came to light when developer Jon Atherton contacted TechCrunch after Apple removed his program, Wobble iBoobs, from the App Store. This, after the app was downloaded and installed 970,000 times over the course of six to eight months.

Atherton forwarded the form email which he and 4,999 other developers received:

The App Store continues to evolve, and as such, we are constantly refining our guidelines. Your application, Wobble iBoobs (Premium Uncensored), contains content that we had originally believed to be suitable for distribution. However, we have recently received numerous complaints from our customers about this type of content, and have changed our guidelines appropriately.

We have decided to remove any overtly sexual content from the App Store, which includes your application.

Thank you for your understanding in this matter. If you believe you can make the necessary changes so that Wobble iBoobs (Premium Uncensored) complies with our recent changes, we encourage you to do so and resubmit for review.

Sincerely,
iPhone App Review


Although it's another case of "censor everything to protect the children," removing apps that are "overtly sexual" is understandable -- albeit curious as to how they would pass the approval process in the first place. But Wobble iBoobs, aside from the name, isn't really "overtly sexual" at all. Yes, the app allowed the user to assign different sections of a picture to jiggle when the iPhone was shaken, but it didn't provide any pictures of its own. Every photo was loaded by the user from another source -- say, iPhone's uncensored Safari Web browser.

Confused over the new policy, Atherton spoke to an Apple rep to clarify the company's stance on the issue and was told a ridiculous set of rules that every app must now follow. He posted it on his website along with some commentary:

1. No images of women in bikinis (Ice skating tights are not OK either)

2.
No images of men in bikinis! (I didn't ask about Ice Skating tights for men)

3.
No skin (he seriously said this) (I asked if a Burqa was OK, and the Apple guy got angry)

4.
No silhouettes that indicate that Wobble can be used for wobbling boobs (yes -- I am serious, we have to remove the silhouette in this pic)

5.
No sexual connotations or innuendo: boobs, babes, booty, sex -- all banned

6.
Nothing that can be sexually arousing!! (I doubt many people could get aroused with the pic [linked] above but those puritanical guys at Apple must get off on pretty mundane things to find Wobble "overtly sexual!")

7.
No apps will be approved that in any way imply sexual content (not sure how Playboy is still in the store, but …)

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