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Building Censorship Walls - A Question For Journalists
Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 10:46 AM EDT

China has issued a paper defending its censorship of the Internet. John Oates of The Register describes its eerie language:
The paper claims: "Chinese citizens fully enjoy freedom of speech on the Internet. The Constitution of the People's Republic of China confers on Chinese citizens the right to free speech. With their right to freedom of speech on the Internet protected by the law, they can voice their opinions in various ways on the Internet....

But the limits to this freedom would cover almost everything. The paper warns: "Citizens are not allowed to infringe upon state, social and collective interests or the legitimate freedom and rights of other citizens. No organization or individual may utilize telecommunication networks to engage in activities that jeopardize state security, the public interest or the legitimate rights and interests of other people."

And that's not all. There are separate laws against disseminating vulgar or pornographic material, anything that may subvert state power, undermine national unity, infringe upon national honour, advocating heresy and spreading information that infringes upon the legitimate rights and interests of others. Gambling, propagating heretical or superstitious ideas, spreading rumours and disrupting social order are also banned

Here, of course, in the US the government couldn't do that. There are, evidently, Constitutions and then there are Constitutions. But I have a question. Given the censorship of content for applications for the iPad and now Microsoft's phone, what are the implications for journalists?

Let me show you what Microsoft won't allow. Microsoft has outlined the rules for its new Windows Marketplace for Windows Phone 7 in a 28-page PDF document, and Mobile Burn made a list:
Content that's not allowed includes anything with sex/nudity, anything that generally falls under the category of pornography, or apps that depict or suggest prostitution. Illegal activities, such as games and apps that promote illegal gambling or drugs, are also not allowed. Microsoft is also putting its foot down on violent games. Applications with "realistic or gratuitous violence," will also be rejected.
What is the difference to the *public* between this and censorship in China? The end result is much the same. (Well, they are unlikely to plunk you into a restorative camp for overindulgence in gaming on the Internet.) There is a difference to *journalists*, in that it's done by private companies, and they can't put you in jail for mentioning the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 or whatever is the verboten topic du jour. I don't minimize that difference. But my question regarding journalism remains.

Many journalism entities are creating applications for either Microsoft's phone or Apple's iPad or iPhone. Here's Wired's new app for the iPad, which apparently flew off the shelf immediately. And in fact some imagine the iPad will save them by artificially creating scarcity and forcing payments.

Some still don't grok the Internet. The New York Times just forced Apple to remove a news reader app, Pulse. On what grounds?

The Pulse News Reader app, makes commercial use of the and RSS feeds, in violation of their Terms of Use*. Thus, the use of our content is unlicensed. The app also frames the and websites in violation of their respective Terms of Use.
Unlicensed RSS feeds. Are they kidding? Nope. They claim copyright infringement. Nobody has heard of fair use at the New York Times? Are they actually suggesting that the RSS feed, which they totally control as to how much they publish from the article in the feed, can't be read unless you get it from them directly? Do they understand what an RSS feed is? What it's for?

I understand the issue, from the standpoint of Apple or Microsoft, actually, and they are private companies. And I realize that news outlets are dreaming big dreams about paywalls. Even the New York Times is going to try it, and of course the essence of that is wall building, to keep non-paying visitors out. Not that the plan will work, in my view, since news has never paid for itself.

But news is not a game. It's foundational to a democratic government's ability to function as intended. I see a German magazine association is calling Apple out regarding censorship, but I have yet to see any US news entities protest. Should any journalist or any news entity create applications for Windows or Apple when doing so requires accepting censorship by private companies that in the US the Constitution would bar the government from implementing? If you say yes, they should, then should they do two different versions of articles, one for the apps store for the millions of people who use only such apps to read their articles and one on the Internet uncensored for the rest of the world? How long do you think that would last, two different articles? And what about the future? Will there always be paper versions of the New York Times? Will journalists self-censor so as not to have to write two different versions?

I'm sure these are the right questions. And the time to answer them is right now, because avoiding compromise is always better than fixing it after the fact.

Update: A poignant anecdote about China from James Fallows in The Atlantic.


Building Censorship Walls - A Question For Journalists | 188 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Building Censorship Walls - A Question For Journalists
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 11:14 AM EDT
Australias just about to do the same thing under the same premise that it is
good for the country to let the government choose what people can learn. I think
censorship is the root of all evil.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reminds me
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 11:22 AM EDT
Reminds me of this other news of today, "White House reporter retires over
Israel remarks",

[ Reply to This | # ]

Building Censorship Walls - A Question For Journalists
Authored by: Carlo Graziani on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 11:25 AM EDT
Well, if Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and friends are going to interpose themselves
between news sources and their customers, perhaps they should be regulated as
"common carriers", analogously to the common-carrier category in
telecom regulation. That is, roughly speaking, they get to profit from traffic,
but get extremely limited say over the content that they convey.

Not that this will ever happen --- the very suggestion of such a regulatory
takeover of the industry would provoke an epidemic of brain aneurisms and
apoplectic seizures among the armchair libertarians that infest silly valley.
But it strikes me as an interesting analogy, anyway.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Building Censorship Walls - A Question For Journalists
Authored by: Tilendor on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 11:26 AM EDT
I think such groups, (newspapers) should refrain from making
apps for platforms that censor.

Keep in mind that they all have internet access and that it
isn't censored(as far as I know).

The crux is that some organizations will make apps, which
integrate better than web pages, which gives an advantage to
those choosing to be censored. It gives them an incentive
to be censored.

Thats not cool. Its not free as in free speech. When a new
forum for discourse arises, I feel that it should fall under
the free speech acts the same as others. Its an odd
situation when a private company can make a large completely
controlled forum like that. But its happening more often.
We need to make sure that our rights keep pace.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Knowledge is dangerous especially in others
Authored by: Winter on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 11:30 AM EDT
Censorship is usually defended by arguing that some opinions and knowledge is
dangerous to "common people". They "cannot evaluate" this
knowledge and come to the "wrong" conclusion. Conclusions that are bad
for the "common interest".

In China the argumentation is:

- Some people get MUCH more out of the Chinese economy than others (eg, horrible
and widespread corruption)

- There are ethnic tensions due to discrimination and repression

- There is no rule of law in China

- There are many small uprisings all over the country

The state seems to fear that when people get to discuss these subjects, they
might start a coordinated action to change the hierarchical structure of China.

I think this fear is well founded.


Some say the sun rises in the east, some say it rises in the west; the truth
lies probably somewhere in between.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: athelas on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 11:35 AM EDT
Please summarize the correction in the comment title

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic
Authored by: athelas on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 11:37 AM EDT
Nothing relevant permitted here, please use HTML for clickable links.

[ Reply to This | # ]

News Picks
Authored by: athelas on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 11:40 AM EDT
Put the title of your pick in your title so people know what you're talking

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: athelas on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 11:41 AM EDT
Keep the COMES coming.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Who owns the printing press?
Authored by: dbc on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 11:52 AM EDT
In China, government censorship controls what you can print. Here, with the
first amendment, the person that owns the printing press controls what you can
print. Note that historically, news organizations have owned there own presses,
and their own distribution chains. But now they have outsourced
"printing" and distribution to Apple and others -- and don't like the
restrictions. Well, what did they expect? When you outsource, you risk losing
control. The newsies need to wake up and develop their own technology and their
own distribution channels. When you stop buying your own presses, and stop
buying your own ink, you have to expect that the person that does that for you
wants some say in how they are used. Now, I'm not sure Rupert Murdoch has the
vision to create a new news distribution technology that will get traction with
users, but someone in the news media needs to take this on for the good of the
fourth estate and the health of public discourse.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The right question, but not the whole question
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 12:12 PM EDT
Journalists don't get technology. Would they allow the government to tax every
reader, denying the right to read unless the tax is paid? Not if you framed the
question that way. But journalists and news organizations seem perfectly happy
to produce proprietary content that forces every reader to pay to read. Pay not
the author or the publisher but some third party; e.g. Amazon to read on the
Kindle or Microsoft to view Sliverlight or read a MS Word document. It seems
journalists are perfectly happy to allow technology companies control of access
to content in a way that they would never consider proper for a government.

It seems journalists are also perfectly happy to allow corporations control over
the production of new content. Would a journalist accept a tax on printing
presses? I doubt it. Are they perfectly happy with a world where everyone must
pay, say, Franhaufer, the MP3 patent holders, every time anyone wants to produce
audio content? Are they perfectly comfortable having everyone pay Microsoft for
the right use Microsoft Word every time they want to write a letter to the
government or an essay for school? It seems they are. I certainly haven't
heard any complaints when it comes to school requirements for essay submissions
or government comment submission requirements. Note the lack of outcry over
whether the video standard for the web, the video codec to be used in HTML 5, is
or is not to have a corporate gatekeeper that charges a tax on every video

The technology clueless might argue that the above costs are inherently integral
to the production or consumption of information just as the cost of paper is
integral to the production of a newspaper. Of course this is entirely wrong.
There is a huge difference between costs that are due to physical requirements,
like the need for paper or electronic wiring, and the costs due to monopoly.
This is true whether the monopoly cost is the result of legal fiat, as in the
case of software patents, or the result of closed data formats such as the cost
of having to purchase Microsoft software to produce (publish) or consume (read)
proprietary data formats. Physical costs cannot be avoided. The costs of
closed data formats and government granted monopolies siphon the lifeblood of
free society, a free press and the freedom to speak, and listen, to no good

Karl O. Pinc <>

[ Reply to This | # ]

difference to "public" between this and censorship in China
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 12:33 PM EDT
PJ asks
What is the difference to the *public* between this and censorship in China?

One huge difference, is that there ARE alternatives to either Apple's or
Microsoft's platform. In China, you don't get an alternative ... at least
no alternative that is legal in China.

Lets say you had two or more competing chains of news-stands.
One chain refuses to carry any skin-mags or related materials,
while the other(s) have no such restrictions. Is this censorship
on the part of the restrictive chain? Maybe so, but is it a restraint
of free-speech rights? I think not. Would it be right to force the
chain that hated pornography to carry skin-mags?

If as in China, there are no legal alternatives, then that is
unconscionable censorship. If as in this situation, there
ARE other legal alternatives, then that is indirectly your choice
who you do business with and what products and services you buy.

If there were a chain of organic grocery stores, that carried
no GMO produce at all. Suppose ADM (megacorp) came by and
insisted that this store chain carried some of ADM GMO produce
in their store? Why is this any different from the Apple
or Microsoft situation?

Or lets say there is a radio station that only has family-friendly
programming and commercials on it. Some entity comes along
with big bucks, and wants to force programming that this station
finds un-acceptable onto it. They say that they have certain
free-speech rights and that the station must accept their stuff.

The Boy Scouts of America have a requirement that you
believe in God. There was a legal challenge by atheist Scout wannabes
who wanted to force their way in while denying God. The Boy Scouts won.
The atheists are free to start their own Atheist Scouts of America if they
want it badly enough.

I think the bottom line, is that as long as you have a choice ...
you don't have too much room for complaint if entities or organizations
have standards and restrictions and enforce them. It is when you have
no choice ... that you really have cause for action.

[ Reply to This | # ]

In a related note, have you read a Microsoft EULA lately?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 12:55 PM EDT
For Microsoft Office, for example? You can get the EULA separately to the
product. It makes for interesting reading. Choice highlights:

"The software is licensed, not sold. This
agreement only gives you some rights to use the software. [...] you may use the
software only as expressly permitted in this agreement.

You may not:
* work around any technical limitations in the software;
* use the software in any way that is against the law;
* rent, lease or lend the software;

The first user of the software may make
a one-time transfer of the software, and this agreement, directly to a third

Now, Blizzard vs MDY (WoWGlider) ruled that a "this software is licensed,
not sold" EULA can strip your Section 117 rights to create a RAM copy. So
just loading into RAM to *use* it is a copyright violation unless it's in
conformance with the EULA.

So if you fix Office for them (say, interoperability), or borrow it from its
licensee, or buy a 2nd hand copy (which the current licensee has no right to
relicense to you), or use it in any way that's "against the law"
(WHICH law?) then you're guilty as charged and Microsoft can sue you for
infringing the copyright in a product that you (erroneously) believed that you

This isn't hyperbole or my opinion, it's the explicit ruling of the District
Court of the Central District of California, pending appeal.

If you don't like the Microsoft example, that's just because I had that EULA
handly. Substitute Apple. Or Abode (remember Dmitry Sklyarov?). Or... SCO.

[ Reply to This | # ]

apps that depict or suggest prostitution
Authored by: ChrixOne on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 12:59 PM EDT
I wonder if that includes certain reviews in the computer press or shamefaced
apologias for the ISO process?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Building Censorship Walls - A Question For Journalists
Authored by: bugi on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 01:01 PM EDT
I agree that privatization of censorship is a Bad Thing.

However, to maintain perspective, consider what motivates
it. I think it's unlikely that it's motivated by the
Puritanical values it resembles. Instead, it's motivated by
two things: minimizing excuses for acquiring underage users;
and minimizing the providers' legal exposure.

Regarding the first, as apps become available on more
devices, they will be used more and more by kids -- as long
as parents don't have an excuse to veto.

The second: Defending oneself is expensive, even against
meritless charges. It's also a gamble, regardless of merit.

The solution: Divorce content from the distribution and
display medium. To do so there must be a standard format
that all can implement. If you must, separate content by
categorizing it, much as in the past a subscription to Time
didn't carry with it an insert from Penthouse.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Yes they understand, but you apparently don't.
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 01:34 PM EDT
<blockquote>Are they actually suggesting that the RSS feed, which they
totally control as to how much they publish from the article in the feed, can't
be read unless you get it from them directly? Do they understand what an RSS
feed is? What it's for?</blockquote>

Their copyright, their choice. Simple. Just because you put something on the
web does NOT mean people are free to take it and e-use it in any way they wish.

RSS feeds do NOT imply anything in terms of what you may do with the content,
you need to read the license and terms of use to determine that. We use an RSS
feed to autmatically push patches out to an application, they are NOT always
used for distributing news. RSS is just a protocol, a message format, nothing
more. Read the terms and conditions of use set by the publisher, if you accept
them, use it. If you don't accept them, don't use it. Surely thats not THAT hard
to get is it?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Say what you will about MS and Apple
Authored by: basher20 on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 02:24 PM EDT
there is one monopoly that they do not control, and it is the one that matters

The monopoly to which I refer is the state monopoly on the use of coercive

In many countries, the people, by means of constitutions, customs, and
traditions, have placed controls on their governments on how they can exercise
that legtimate state right. China, in this very proclimation, reveals itself to
not be one of those countries.

No matter what your feelings about crimnal copyright statutes (I think they're
absurd) Microsoft can't seize your bank account or imprison you directly. They
have to go therough the due process of law under a state-sanctioned and,
theoretically at least, impartial authority.

<snark> although given their reputation for security holes, perhaps a
Microsoft Prison is not something to be feared very much </snark>

[ Reply to This | # ]

Groklaw censorship
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 02:57 PM EDT

> Content that's not allowed includes anything with ...

Microsoft is perfectly within its rights to control what is on its _own_ site.

China is restricting the content available from _other_ sites.

In much the same way as Microsoft PJ applies censorship to Groklaw. No
expletives or bad words are allowed. I also doubt that PJ would allow links to
pornography or similar material.

How is MS different than this ?

[ Reply to This | # ]

So Where does the Money Come From
Authored by: ralevin on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 03:12 PM EDT
These are good questions and interesting comments, but there is still this basic
question of where the money comes from to pay for the news gathering. The NY
Times Co. had over $2 billion in costs in 2009 (from Yahoo Finance, ticker =
NYT). That's not going to be covered from a tip jar.

These are for profit companies. If news gathering doesn't make a profit than it
will become a hobby, and many more things will never be reported.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Building Censorship Walls - A Question For Journalists
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 04:53 PM EDT
This site, a "journalistic enterprise", censors and/or removes content
for "colorful" language, slanderous content, and links to sources of
information that either may pose a liability for linking or you simply do not
want to support their ideology. PJ and crew exercise editorial control over the
site, or in Apple's terms you "curate" the site. You choose what kind
of material is in your "walled garden". Does that make you evil or
against the 1st amendment? No.

Apple "curates" or edits their walled garden by exercising control
over the the approval of application's provided through the app store to display
content and not the content itself.

Think of it in terms of magazine or newspaper. If your app is for publishing
reputable news, like the Times or the Post, the app will be approved. I am
pretty sure both of those publications have several articles every day that
cover prostitution, slander, graft, and all sorts of topics on the naughty list;
but, they are NEWS articles about the topics, not the primary purpose of the

If you app is primarily used to deliver questionable content you can expect the
app to be rejected, just like a store may not choose to sell Hustler magazine.
The publisher is free to sell Hustler, you are fee to buy it, but no store has
to offer it for sale.

Finally, all of apples devices have one of the best mobile web browsers in the
business. There are also several RSS Readers available too. There are no
filters, no net nanny's or anything. You can access the full web in all of it's
glory or depths of depravity. So, if the NEWS you want to consume does not have
an approved app, you can always read it on the web just like now.

So, I don't think you can really compare state sponsored censorship where it is
a crime to speak, write, or read certain topics, to a company that does not want
have an adult toys section in their app store.

[ Reply to This | # ]

That comes from having a document superior to all other law
Authored by: Tolerance on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 05:50 PM EDT
All constitutions which set themselves up as a basic law are bound to fail
because mistakes can't be corrected. That's the main reason why Westminster
jurisdictions eschew such supreme documents, vesting sovereignty instead in a
parliament or monarch which can be arbitrarily replaced.

United Statesians are invited to consider what legal void would be left by the
extinction (in nuclear or civil war, say) by the entire executive, judicial, and
legislative branches of government. That said, the US constitution doesn't
attempt to regulate oppression by private persons in the same way it does by

More generally, the US constitution differs from those of (say) Europe or China
in two crucial respects.

First, it is short. The ghastly textual thicket of other constitutions comes
from micromanagement of those threats to society which the writers could see in
their time.

Second, there are explicit mechanisms for change. The most obvious is the
provision for a convention to change the Constitution itself.

I would note that it's never been used. You would need two-thirds of the states
to ratify such a proposition, and because a convention can't be restricted in
what it changes, it's politically impossible. (Mass hanging of lawyers, anyone?
complete prohibition of firearms? definition of right to bear arms not to be
infringed to mean exactly what the plain language says?)

More importantly, there is the Supreme Court. Because the US Constitution is
short, it clearly does not attempt to address all future threats, which is one
reason it provides for a Supreme Court. (I'm not talking about the power of
judicial review, established in Marbury v Madison, because that was never
explicit in the Constitution and it's arguable that decision was in error).

In my law school - not based in the US - it was pointed out that a legal fashion
around 1900 was for corporations to be granted the same legal rights as natural
persons. Which meant they enjoyed the same constitutional protections against,
say, arbitrary search and seizure.

Later that pendulum swung back and SCOTUS would assert that natural persons had
certain rights which legal persons did not. Now the pendulum is reversing again,
perhaps because of the lobbying power of corporations, but the point is that the
US Constitution is flexible. Today Apple might have the power to restrict apps
in the same way the Chinese government does. Next year, next decade, or next
century, it might not.

It depends on fashion. And that fashion, in the long run, will be decided at the
ballot box. In China, it won't be.

Grumpy old man

[ Reply to This | # ]

A strange attitude?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 05:50 PM EDT
Microsoft encourage (i.e. get money for licenses) games on the XBOX 360 that
include gratuitous violence, foul language, sex and total absence of morals.
Why do they decide a phone should have different rules?

I really don't understand businesses.


[ Reply to This | # ]

The US does it too
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 06:00 PM EDT

Here, of course, in the US the government couldn't do that.

Of course it can - and it does.

There is clearly a difference of degree between China and the US. The Chinese government censors opinions it doesn't like much more than the US government presently does. But if you think that the First Amendment still protects freedom of speech, you need to get your head out of the sand.

For example, two young men were arrested just four days ago on "terrorism" charges. The linked article reports that they had no contacts with known terrorist organizations, no concrete plans to commit any terrorist act, and no weapons (except "folding knives" which probably most people have). Their real crime was to talk big. By dressing that up as "conspiracy", the government will be able to put them in prison for years.

Then there's the case of the former world chess champion, Bobby Fischer. Fischer expressed some very unpopular political opinions. The Bush administration then revoked his passport - apparently without any judicial process, and without even notifying Fischer - and persuaded the government of the country where he was staying to arrest him. As he said on this video, "I grew up with the concept of the freedom of speech, you know, I'm too old, it's too late for me to adjust to the new world order."

Maybe your "Here, of course, in the US the government couldn't do that" was intended as irony. I hope so, though it didn't look it in the context.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why do we need an "app" to read a newspaper?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 06:11 PM EDT
Surely if the journos, subeditors, cyber-compositors, and other
sticky fingers around the office had half a clue about how the web
works, or is supposed to work, they would publish in a format that could
be read by anybody, anywhere. Subscriptions, pay-per-view, are a
separate question, and can still be done within a standard html model.
The device vendors by encouraging apps for this, apps for that, are
supporting the proliferation of a babel of paywalled ghettos.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Commercial considerations and censorship
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 10:18 PM EDT
Apple iStore is similar to a physical shop, the owner has the right to decide
what to sell. There is a misguided sense of entitlement : Apple is not an open
platform. Their EULA for developers explicitly says it's not an open platform.
If you want 'openness and freedom', stay away from Apple or Microsoft.

In China, any journalists who write an article that the Government doesn't like
immediately loses their job. If the Government REALLY doesn't like it, they'll
'disappear' or send to 're-education'. This creates a climate of
'self-censorship', and each journalist walks the thin line between journalistic
integrity and personal well being. They literally put their life on the line
when they write a story. To compare the policy of Apple iStore to the censorship
regime in China is both disproportionate, demeaning and disrespectful.

Journalism is not a pure commercial enterprise. If you leave it to the market
forces, all we'll ever see on the will be sports, gossip on celebrities, and
hate-filled rantings written by political extremists. Truth is necessary for
democracy to function, falsehood is however much cheaper to produce and much
easier to believe.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Choice - or lack thereof
Authored by: The Mad Hatter r on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 11:17 PM EDT

I recently had an argument with the Canadian Heritage Minister, James Moore. Now
James seems like a nice guy, but he doesn't understand why Creative Commons
licensing is important, nor does he actually understand the WIPO copyright
treaties (even though I quoted chapter and verse at him).

So yes, governments don't seem to understand censorship, or the damage it can
do. What we need to do as concerned citizens is hold the politicians feet in the
fire on issues like this.


[ Reply to This | # ]

News has never paid for itself
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, June 09 2010 @ 01:31 AM EDT
Maybe that's the point.
Here's a chance for an entire industry sector to start monetizing an item that's
become ever more expensive bait and wrapper around the real money maker:
With increased competition from other media in terms of ad-ops, the news
business needs to look at new streams.
Unfortunately, it seems they are looking in the rear-view mirror...


[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft sets itself up as the world's censor
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, June 09 2010 @ 03:51 AM EDT

Microsoft evidently thinks it has a mission to ram the opinions of the most prudish sections of American society down the throat of everybody in the world:

Content that's not allowed includes anything with sex/nudity,

Because a bunch of puritan bigots think nudity is "dirty"? Does that mean I can't write an app that provides an illustrated index to European sculpture because artists like Michelangelo, Praxiteles, and Bernini portrayed the naked human body?

Does it mean I can't provide an illustrated guide to European cities like Florence, where nude statues are prominently displayed in public places?

...or apps that depict or suggest prostitution

The provision of sexual services for money is legal in many countries (and in one US state), just like the provision of any other service by a willing provider to a willing consumer. Why shouldn't I develop an app, for sale in one of these countries, that has an index to providers of all kinds of services?

Microsoft is not an ordinary business. It has always tried to become a worldwide monopoly. It's perfectly acceptable for Sam Smith's store in Peoria, IL to decide not to carry certain products, but it's quite a different matter if a worldwide monopolist (or wannabe monopolist) makes such decisions.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Apple Doesn't Really Sensor Content
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, June 09 2010 @ 02:59 PM EDT
Another counter to the claims that Apple is censoring content is the fact that
Apple only controls the content that is available through their app store. This
is only one avenue for getting content onto the iP* devices. Apple also supports
rich web applications through HTML5, which developers are free to use not just
for Apple products but for any platform that supports HTML5. Google chose
exactly this route for getting their Google Voice application to run on the

Apple appears to restrict certain classes of content because they don't want
people holding them liable for officially endorsing potentially objectionable
content. People are still perfectly capable of accessing even restricted content
from an Apple device, they just can't do so with as part of an officially
sanctioned application. That hardly seems like a serious form of censorship.
It's more akin to a store selling only high-end clothing that meets a certain
standard of quality. The store doesn't control what people choose to wear into
the store or outside of it, so it would be silly to say the store is censoring
people's tastes in clothes.


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Building Censorship Walls - A Question For Journalists
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, June 09 2010 @ 06:27 PM EDT
A couple of things:
I believe the main problem that the NYT had was the guys were charging for the
app. They just tacked on all the rest to make sure it would stick. I might be
wrong, but that was the impression I got.
I don't see what the big problem is with apple's decision - They were never an
open company. Is this really a surprise? Microsoft is just aping them in the
hopes that some of that success will rub off.
Someone will release a device that is completely open to all content, then apple
and m$ can fade into their walled garden obscurity..... Just like AOL.

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  • Correction - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, June 09 2010 @ 09:03 PM EDT
    • Correction - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 10 2010 @ 10:59 AM EDT
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