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Why Apple Should Stop Censoring Apps

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the dept-line-redacted dept.

Censorship 144

An anonymous reader writes "ReadWriteWeb makes the case that Apple should stop censoring submissions to the App Store. The company made headlines last week for banning an app showing the locations of drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The article says Apple should restrict its bans to apps that have terrible functionality or a poor UI, and 'get out of the business of censorship.' Quoting: 'Last year in Syria, antigovernment activists began using an iPhone app to disseminate news, maps, photos and videos about the conflict in a country that doesn't exactly rank highly for its press freedom. Mobile tech in the hands of Syrian dissidents proved enough of a nuisance that the government banned the iPhone in late 2011, presumably to quash content that the regime found, um, objectionable. This example raises a few questions. First, why are pins on a map more objectionable than photos and video clips from a war zone? Why does content that effectively agitates for one government to be overthrown make the cut, while content that may make another government look bad (depending on one's own perspective) doesn't? Is Apple taking sides in international conflicts? Perhaps more disturbing is the notion that, were Apple to apply these standards consistently, apps like the one used by Syrian dissidents — and perhaps some news apps — would be barred from the App Store as well.'"

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No. (5, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240091)

Is Apple taking sides in international conflicts?

Um, no. Apple is taking sides based on the PR it might get. They banned the 'shake the baby' app for exactly the same reason. They're not going to stop doing it, either, because 'image' is a big part of their marketing strategy.

Re:No. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41240123)

Image is 100% of their marketing strategy.

What Apple should be afraid of is the day they become an unhip cliche.

Re:No. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41240201)

and image is the exact reason that Linux has failed on the Desk Top. Not everyone wants a Neck Beard.

It's easy to make up BS as an AC

Re:No. (3, Insightful)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240833)

Not just image, but even an easy distro like Ubuntu requires command-line tweaking to get it to work properly.

The problem is, and XKCD nailed this, was that the OS doesn't matter. Everyone's using the Interwebs for Facebook, LOLCats, YouTube, and porn. So you want the computer that'll deliver the goods with the least amount of fucking around.

The cheap solution is Windows. That's the default OS on most computers sold. Reboots are acceptable for 99% of users.

The heavily-marketed "just works" solution is Apple's walled garden. Most people don't care about the open or closed nature, "wait, I can get the stuff on the list and it won't break if I've installed an new program? Yeah, I can afford the Mac Tax, gimmie." I know, it only works on their special parts, and nothing else. Their users don't care about DRM, or the shift of computers from creative to consumptive devices.

Any flavour of Linux requires a lot of tinkering. That's great if the tinkering is part of your hobby, or if you want to actually own your machine. (I've had the touchpad break when installing SMPlayer, FFS.) Linux is a pain in the ass to use, end of story. Once it's working, it's great, but to get it to that point requires a massive amount of patience.

Re:No. (3, Interesting)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240899)

Agreed wholeheartedly! I run nothing but vanilla Debian (testing on my workstations, stable on my servers) but am the exact opposite of a Linux evangelical. Tweaking the OS is part of my hobby and I get a happy glowing feeling when my computers act like well-oiled machines. I also acknowledge that I represent about .1% of actual users and that most people just want it to work. Would a gear head ever buy a brand new car with an automatic transmission and the hood welded shut?

Re:No. (1)

Keen Anthony (762006) | more than 2 years ago | (#41242465)

Gear/petrol heads are as diverse as computer enthusiasts are. I might buy a sealed up automatic, depending on the car. I'd have to really trust the car and feel more confidence in the brand's technicians than in myself. I would buy an automatic Ferrari Californian easily, or a Lamborghini Aventador. Many of gear heads aren't tinkerers. I myself am a driver, and I like exotic super cars. My father is into old American muscle and hot rods. He likes the idea of building a car, and I just want to a really great road to drive on. I would never go tinkering around under the hood of a Lamborghini or a Ferrari or a Bugatti. I would, and do, for BMWs and Hondas however, but I have the tools and know-how for older BMWs and a Honda is just a Honda. Some guys love taking Honda Civics and Ford Focuses and turning them into street racers. To me, they're the metaphor for the typical gaming PC enthusiast, even down to the glowing lights under the chassis. They create some awesome machines - both PC enthusiasts and car tuners. I, like other super car lovers, want the specific native experience each car offers. It's fun talking about Ferrari vs Lamborghini, but it's not fun (for me) trying to find a way of blending the two experiences. So, as primarily a Macintosh guy, I prefer my Mac experience enough that having a totally closed system that doesn't give me much customization isn't a problem. That's not to say that the Macintosh way is always the better way. Frequently it isn't.

Re:No. (2)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#41243041)

Their users don't care about DRM

Until it bites them, then they start to care. That said, DRM isn't very malign yet, and has bitten just a tiny minority.

Re:No. (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240243)

No, it's not. They could not maintain their success for so many generations of products if they didn't have a strong platform to build on. Face it, if image were really all there was to it, then many Android phones would be 'fashionable' just because s'not Apple. We stopped living in that world years ago when Android became a viable alternative to iOS.

Re:No. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41240253)

If those hideous brown Louis Vuitton bags can remain a status symbol after decades of sale then so can Apple iCrap.

Re:No. (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240551)

I didn't realize tens of millions of people bought Louis Vuitton bags.

Re:No. (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240581)

I believe image is 100% of most companies' marketing strategy.

Re:No. (5, Informative)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240235)

Exactly.

Apple isn't trying to fight for any particular ideals of freedom. They're fighting to fill a walled garden that people will pay money to use. Things that offend the American right-wing militants will get banned. Things that offend the American left-wing socialists will get banned. Things that piss off people with "complex standards" will get banned. Things that piss off people with "common sense" will get banned.

All that is left is apps that appeal to the middle-of-the-road masses, because that's where Apple's money comes from.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41240351)

well said.

Re:No. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41240437)

Oh, and I'm sure if we examined your life we'd find a shining example of common sense and complex standard, right?

Will you geeks ever stop with this "I'M TEH SMARTERZ THAN EVERY1 ELSES!!!!" bullshit? Because that's what it is: BULLSHIT.

Seriously, you sound like a babbling psychopath.

I've met hundreds of geeks like you over the years, spewing the same crap you are, and without exception outside of some moderate computer skills they were absolute pig ignorant dunces. Oh, they *thought* they were smart, armed with some herd mentality ideology they gobbled up from one echo chamber or another. That just made them all the more hideous and utterly impossible to be around for any sane person.

Re:No. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41240973)

Oh, and I'm sure if we examined your life we'd find a shining example of common sense and complex standard, right?

It's a subjective matter to begin with, so in my opinion doesn't much matter what others think. But what does this have to do with people demanding censorship? That's okay because you believe he won't be a shining example of "common sense and complex standard"? What exactly was the point of your comment?

That just made them all the more hideous and utterly impossible to be around for any sane person.

Well, I don't know what you mean by "sane person." You're acting just as arrogantly as the people you're insulting right now. If we examined your life would we find a shining example of a sane person?

Are people who oppose the TSA sane? What about those that oppose censorship? Anyone that you don't like isn't sane? Honestly, I have no idea. Maybe anyone who doesn't think things should be banned just because they offend someone isn't sane to you.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41241677)

> All that is left is apps that appeal to the middle-of-the-road masses, because that's where Apple's money comes from.

It certainly doesn't come from the open source linux communist beard hippies.

Re:No. (3, Insightful)

tooyoung (853621) | more than 2 years ago | (#41241913)

How is this different from other stores? My local grocery chain doesn't stock Playboy in the magazine section. McDonalds doesn't offer Pepsi products. Target doesn't sell Walmart generics. Barnes and Noble doesn't carry my novel. It seems pretty common for stores to limit products that they sell based on all sorts of criteria. I assume you have the same disdain for their censorship and mourn the spiral to mediocrity they create.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41242185)

I assume you have the same disdain for their censorship and mourn the spiral to mediocrity they create.

Not censorship if they never had it to begin with. It's censorship if they later remove it.

Re:No. (3, Insightful)

grcumb (781340) | more than 2 years ago | (#41242311)

How is this different from other stores? My local grocery chain doesn't stock Playboy in the magazine section. McDonalds doesn't offer Pepsi products. Target doesn't sell Walmart generics. Barnes and Noble doesn't carry my novel. It seems pretty common for stores to limit products that they sell based on all sorts of criteria. I assume you have the same disdain for their censorship and mourn the spiral to mediocrity they create.

The fact that other businesses exercise arbitrary logic does nothing to change the validity (or lack thereof) of the writer's contention that Apple is censoring based on a particular ideological stance. You've just indulged in an appeal to popularity (i.e. 'everybody does X, so it's not wrong' - which doesn't sound so great when you apply different values to X, like slavery, rape or drunk driving).

Now, to look at each of the examples: Exclusivity doesn't seem to be driving Apple's thinking here, so McDonalds doesn't apply. Space is not an issue, so (brick and mortar) Barnes and Noble isn't pertinent. Sales numbers are not the criterion in question here, so B&N online doesn't apply either.

That leaves us with the Playboy example. But the problem is that Soldier of Fortune would be a closer analogy, and to abuse it a little further, the problem is that Apple does stock Soldier of Fortune, but does not stock the Human Rights Watch publication that publishes nothing but the places where violence occurs.

The disdain for Apple's behaviour therefore, isn't just that it's censorious (though it is), nor that it's inconsistent (though it is). The complaint seems to arise from the perception that Apple's behaviour is being driven by a particular ideology that simply refuses to acknowledge anything that might reflect poorly on the US government and its foreign policy.

Draw what conclusions you like about that, but don't do so based entirely on false equivalency.

Re:No. (5, Insightful)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 2 years ago | (#41242793)

My local grocery chain doesn't stock Playboy in the magazine section. McDonalds doesn't offer Pepsi products. Target doesn't sell Walmart generics. Barnes and Noble doesn't carry my novel.

There's a few differences.

First, in the physical world, shelf-space is limited. A store can't carry everything because there isn't room. Thus, Barnes and Noble doesn't carry your novel because they'd rather stock their shelves with something they believe will sell. Needless to say, this isn't a factor in the digital world.

Second, companies will often make "exclusive" deals. McDonalds doesn't offer Pepsi products because Coke offered them a better deal in return for not carrying Pepsi products. Other political factors also are involved--remember back when Pepsi owned Burger King and Pizza Hut? All the Burger King and Pizza Hut restaurants carried only Pepsi products because that's what the owners wanted. This isn't the case with Apple's Store, either. There are no exclusives.

Third, "Store Brands" are usually repackaged versions of other known products. "Charles Shaw" wine (infamously known as "Two-Buck Chuck") can be pretty good wine--it's the same wine that sells for $20 a bottle. But does a famous wine-maker want their wine to sell for that cheap? Nope. Bad for the image. So rather than "discounting" their wine, they sell it to Trader Joe's who relabel it as "Charles Shaw." They make money on the bulk purchase and they keep their fancy name. Needless to say, this certainly doesn't apply to Apple's Store, either.

Finally, the issue I have with Apple's Store is that it's the only one. While your grocery store doesn't stock Playboy because they want to "Think of the Children," I can buy Playboy at the local liquor store or magazine stand or various other places.

That's where the store analogy starts to break down. Apple runs the store. They're also the mayor of the town. They've decided that anybody who wants to run a store in their town has to pay them a 30% tax. The mayor will decide what kind of stores will be in his town. And if you don't like it, you can move out of town.

Re:No. (1, Insightful)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#41243623)

First, in the physical world, shelf-space is limited. A store can't carry everything because there isn't room. Thus, Barnes and Noble doesn't carry your novel because they'd rather stock their shelves with something they believe will sell. Needless to say, this isn't a factor in the digital world.

Well, I'm pretty sure if I wrote a game, Valve won't sell it on Steam, which is a perfectly virtual marketplace - adding my game would consume little on Valve's servers.

Hell, I know they're also being picky because there's a campaign to get a game ported to PC and distributed by Steam (it's on PS3, Xbox360, iOS, Android, and Mac, but not on PC and Valve for some reason won't talk to the developer to put it on Steam).

Anyhow, the other thing is well, you can bet Apple's actually sitting pretty - considering Androids are outselling iOS 2:1, iOS users though are buying apps and spending money on the whole ecosystem. (They're also using a LOT more data - Mobile Safari is still getting way more traffic than any mobile browser out there... [arstechnica.com] so unless every Android user is using a different browser that fakes desktop user-agents...).

Apple's making money, developers are making money (compared to Google Play for the most part - there are a few devs making more money off Android than iOS), the question becomes - if Apple decided to be a free-for-all like Google Play, will they and developers earn even MORE money?

And that's the real question that needs to be asked. Apple's about making money. If opening up the App Store means Apple can sell even MORE iOS devices (iTunes makes very little money for Apple, so app sales really don't factor in) than they do now, then yes, it makes sense for Apple to open it up. If however, it does diddly, it's not worth it.

Re:No. (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#41243059)

That's only one problem. Once you get into that route, you must weight it very well how many people you are willing to annoy, and how many people you'll nanny. If you banish too many oppinions, there won't be much people left, and if you banish too little oppinions, there will be too many people offended. Nobody seems to be able to weight it right for a long time. For a while it always looks like a simple task, but it gains complexity with time.

That's in fact a great receipt for a ninche player. But I bet Apple doesn't want to be a ninche player.

Re:No. (2)

Namarrgon (105036) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240481)

Apple is taking sides based on the American PR it might get. The rest of the world (arguably the larger portion of the market) is probably a lot more interested in a list of US drone strikes.

Intentionally or not, their image-centred policies may be causing them more harm than good.

Re:No. (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240605)

And if the app were go abroad and ever passed on information to foreigners which was under government quarantine that would be espionage. They would need to be insane to provide that app outside the United States under almost any circumstance.

Re:No. (1)

cob666 (656740) | more than 2 years ago | (#41241105)

And if the app were go abroad and ever passed on information to foreigners which was under government quarantine that would be espionage. They would need to be insane to provide that app outside the United States under almost any circumstance.

Seriously? The application that was banned was relaying information from the U.K.'s Bureau of Investigative Journalism. [thebureaui...igates.com] The source data is ALREADY coming from outside the United States.

Re:No. (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#41241221)

And in the joyous world of American criminal law, that doesn't matter. You take information that the government thinks is harmful, and you make it accessible to people the government thinks is harmful, in a way that the government thinks is harmful, and you're in for a lot of trouble. Sure, you might come out of it just fine in a decade or two, but in the mean time you're branded a traitor by the media, blackballed from your industry, and will almost certainly be placed on every watch list in the country. Thank you, USA PATRIOT Act, for keeping us "safe"!

Re:No. (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#41242421)

Section 3 of the espionage act makes it a crime to convey false reports for the purpose of disruption. So for example if the U.K.'s Bureau of Investigative Journalism got something wrong and had anti-American motivations (which they might of)....

This is not something you do casually. You want to publish this stuff you don't write an app, you have your legal team examine each word and think carefully about it. In most cases you ask for a military review.

Re:No. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41240831)

Is Apple taking sides in international conflicts?

Um, no.

Selective censorship IS taking sides, independent of the reasons behind the decision.

Re:No. (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 2 years ago | (#41242271)

And, there is not anything necessarily wrong with taking sides. One would hope they would, in fact.

However, censorship is a stupid and ineffective way to do it.

This is a problem with consumers, not Apple. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41240121)

Apple should be free to censor apps however they wish. But consumers should also be sensible enough to stop buying products and services from Apple, if Apple chooses to partake in such behavior.

This problem would resolve itself if Apple customers acted responsibly, and stopped funding Apple's activities completely.

Re:This is a problem with consumers, not Apple. (1)

lsllll (830002) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240215)

Yup. The magic keywords in your sentence were if Apple customers acted responsibly . I know many Apple users and the last thing they're worried about is acting responsibly in choosing the company they're going to trust their digital life to. They range from kids and teenagers to doctors and lawyers. They just want something that works all the time (which Apple products do) without much hastle.

What really scares me, though, is that you put me in front of an Apple laptop and I suddenly don't know WTF I'm doing, even though I can work the innards of Linux with little problem. I am pretty glad that I'm enough computer savvy to have the option of not using Windows or iOS.

Re:This is a problem with consumers, not Apple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41240509)

Enough computer savvy? Ok. In any case, Apple laptops don't run iOS. I guess what it really comes down to it you're somehow glad that you're "enough computer savvy" that you don't know how to use non-Linux machines.
 
Congratulations!

Re:This is a problem with consumers, not Apple. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41240571)

You could open a terminal in OS X and get at the BSD Unix shell. Oh, and the laptops use OS X, not iOS.

You should be scared. My friend's 2 year year old daughter can pick up an iPhone and get to the video and photos she likes to see. She learned this simply by watched her Dad use it. No one actively taught her to do this. I've seen this a dozen times by now.

You geeks are so disconnected from reality it's like you have dementia. The majority of people don't care about being computer savvy to the point of working the innards of Linux, and that's perfectly OK. There's a hundred professions out there you don't know shit about. Should your vet be giving you crap and insulting your intellect because you can't work the innards of a dog or cat? Should the local auto mechanics call you an idiot because you can't take apart and rebuild your car's engine? Should the local contractor shit on you for not being able to add your own addition to your house?

Geeks need to the the godamned hell over themselves, and maybe people will stop hating their ugly guts.

Re:This is a problem with consumers, not Apple. (0)

lsllll (830002) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240891)

You could open a terminal in OS X and get at the BSD Unix shell. Oh, and the laptops use OS X, not iOS.

Got me there. I should've said OS X. And I know about the command prompt on OS X.

You should be scared. My friend's 2 year year old daughter can pick up an iPhone and get to the video and photos she likes to see. She learned this simply by watched her Dad use it. No one actively taught her to do this. I've seen this a dozen times by now.

I never said the I couldn't watch someone do something on a Mac and be able to learn it. Read below

You geeks are so disconnected from reality it's like you have dementia. The majority of people don't care about being computer savvy to the point of working the innards of Linux, and that's perfectly OK. There's a hundred professions out there you don't know shit about. Should your vet be giving you crap and insulting your intellect because you can't work the innards of a dog or cat? Should the local auto mechanics call you an idiot because you can't take apart and rebuild your car's engine? Should the local contractor shit on you for not being able to add your own addition to your house?

When did I give the Mac users shit about not knowing the innards of Linux? I didn't even say that the majority of people care about being computer savvy. In fact, I mentioned the opposite, that they "just want something that works all the time (which Apple products do) without much hastle."

Geeks need to the the godamned hell over themselves, and maybe people will stop hating their ugly guts.

What I believe is that Mac users (which apparently you are one) need to get over yourselves and hating everyone else's guts. Just read back everything you wrote. It's nothing but hate. You should try and relax a little!

The point I was trying to make was that the graphical interface on Macs is not that intuitive, as Apple users would have the rest of the world believe. There is still a learning curve, whether you're shown how to do something in OS X or whether you have to figure it out on your own. Put me in front of a graphical interface on the Mac and for me everything seems out of place and not intuitive, including how to control the look and feel of my experience and colored minimize/maximize buttons. Add to that the fact that I hate Apple as a company and thus I have no desire to purchase any of their products. That's all.

Re:This is a problem with consumers, not Apple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41241283)

If you have a problem with any of largely accepted GUI'd OSs than you're not a geek.
 
And I really call bullshit about how you knew about OSX's "command prompt." First off, the only OS that calls it a command prompt is Windows, which you claim you know nothing about. Secondly, anyone who knows anything about Unix shouldn't be lost in any other Unix when it comes down to a terminal session. I'm starting to think you're a Johnny-Come-Lately Linux hipster who really doesn't know Linux either. No surprise there.

Re:This is a problem with consumers, not Apple. (1)

EGSonikku (519478) | more than 2 years ago | (#41241953)

Right, there are TONS of things you could say that would make me believe you in regards to hating Apple. But calling OS X not intuitive just marks you a troll. Intuitive, easy to use, and pretty are all it is. Also overpriced, and not th greatest for gaming. Go for those talking points next time, cause so far you're talking out your ass.

Re:This is a problem with consumers, not Apple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41242057)

There's nothing intuitive about it until you've used it long enough.

Re:This is a problem with consumers, not Apple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41242709)

$19.99 for OS X Mountain Lion is overpriced? I've seen FTP clients that are charging >$50 for a single licence, and we're talking a whole desktop OS here. Microsoft are only just starting to catch on that you can't charge three figures for an OS, after decades of exorbitant prices.

Re:This is a problem with consumers, not Apple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41243477)

$19.99 for OS X Mountain Lion is overpriced?

Yes, because 95% of computer users can't run it without buying a new computer.

Microsoft are only just starting to catch on that you can't charge three figures for an OS, after decades of exorbitant prices.

Apple caught on only a couple of years ago that you can't do that and even then still 95% of computer users couldn't run it without buying a new computer.

Re:This is a problem with consumers, not Apple. (1)

methano (519830) | more than 2 years ago | (#41242345)

A little rough on the poor guy, but basically well said.

Re:This is a problem with consumers, not Apple. (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240763)

What really scares me, though, is that you put me in front of an Apple laptop and I suddenly don't know WTF I'm doing, even though I can work the innards of Linux with little problem. I am pretty glad that I'm enough computer savvy to have the option of not using Windows or iOS.

So is there something specific or are you just completely baffled by OSX? It's not really much different to any of the other unix-like OSes out there so i don't see how you can be so confused by it if you are as computer savvy as you claim to be.

Re:This is a problem with consumers, not Apple. (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240791)

You're an idiot is what you are. MacBooks don't run iOS and if you struggle with it, you're a computer noob.

Re:This is a problem with consumers, not Apple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41240247)

And Google has killed apps on users phones

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9213641/Google_throws_kill_switch_on_Android_phones [computerworld.com]

If apple customers stopped funding apple, they wouldn't be apple customers

Re:This is a problem with consumers, not Apple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41240283)

Why do you bring up Google? The GP never mentioned Google, and never suggested that they're a better (or less-worse) alternative to Apple.

Re:This is a problem with consumers, not Apple. (1)

EGSonikku (519478) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240349)

I'm guessing because of the "OMG! Stupid iSheep should just switch the Android ZOMG it has teh Linux!!1 posts"

Re:This is a problem with consumers, not Apple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41240363)

He mentioned censorship. Google have thrown that switch. Apple have never deleted an app from a users phone. As far as I know...

VLC was banned from the app store due to GPL violations/incompatabilities, yet those that downloaded it to their iDevice still have it and it's still functional. That's why I mentioned google. That and the fact that the comment was thinly veiled attack at apple without base or balance. Basically it was a subtle troll.

Re:This is a problem with consumers, not Apple. (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240735)

VLC was banned from the app store due to GPL violations/incompatabilities

Apple has no problem with open source apps on their store.

The reason VLC was pulled was because one of the contributors to the main code base (who also works for a rival phone company) complained to Apple which resulted in the app being pulled.

Re:This is a problem with consumers, not Apple. (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240593)

If customers need to act responsibly, then they should know how the competition works as well. Objectivity is a virtue.

Re:This is a problem with consumers, not Apple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41240433)

The article says Google removed MALWARE INFECTED apps that users downloaded from Android Market. It also goes on to say Google did this only once before. Are you in the habit of linking articles, based on the headline, without reading them?

Re:This is a problem with consumers, not Apple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41240641)

No but I am in the habit of pointing out fallacies

Google censors apps. Not very well, but they do

http://www.csmonitor.com/Innovation/Horizons/2012/0202/Google-Bouncer-tasked-with-taking-on-Android-malware [csmonitor.com]

yeah it's Malware again, but Google does it. They are not an honourable company anymore than MS or Apple are.

Now you made me bring MS into it!

Re:This is a problem with consumers, not Apple. (1)

EGSonikku (519478) | more than 2 years ago | (#41241967)

Why are so many malware infected apps getting on the store in the first place?

Re:This is a problem with consumers, not Apple. (1, Insightful)

Kethinov (636034) | more than 2 years ago | (#41241385)

No, this is a problem with Apple.

You're right that Apple should be free to censor their app store however they want.

But everyone in this thread seems to be ignoring the fact that users should be free to install whatever apps they want on their device. Not permitting users the ability to sideload apps is the real censorship that we should be raging against.

Make it a web app (4, Insightful)

the computer guy nex (916959) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240141)

No reason to need a native app for pins on a map.

The only reason to make it a native app is to get the exposure from the App Store, which is the exact reason apps like this get denied.

Re:Make it a web app (1, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240727)

There is also the security model of the app store: the app is digitally signed by Apple, which helps provide some confidence that it was not tampered with by a third party. For someone living under a repressive government (or even in some American high schools), having your TLS connection be tampered with is common -- so how could such a person know that they are seeing the real locations of those strikes, and not the picture that their government wanted them to see?

Of course, this whole situation could be avoided by allowing users to download software from other app stores. Not that Apple is willing to give up on the vice grip it has on iOS users.

Re:Make it a web app (2)

Plumpaquatsch (2701653) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240991)

No reason to need a native app for pins on a map. The only reason to make it a native app is to get the exposure from the App Store, which is the exact reason apps like this get denied.

Actually, having the app denied is probably the best thing that ever happened to the project, because that way they get a thousand times the public exposure they'd get from just the app on the App Store. We certainly wouldn't be talking about it now, just like Slashdot has never mentioned them before.

Come to think of it - where is the proof that the app wasn't denied to give it that exposure?

it's APPLE (1, Insightful)

kenorland (2691677) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240205)

There are lots of things Apple should do. But it's APPLE. They will do whatever it takes to maximize their profits and profit margins, and if that takes censorship or lying they will do it, just like they have no qualms about misusing the patent and trademark systems.

Re:it's APPLE (1)

the computer guy nex (916959) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240315)

Actually, if you bothered to RTFA, Apple is lowering their profits and profit margins by censoring.

Please tell me how not selling apps maximizes profits? Tell me how spending the man hours to censor increases margins?

Re:it's APPLE (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41240443)

Maybe because Apple has deemed the profit they make from an "objectionable" app is less than the cost of dealing with the complaints they'd receive if they did approve it.

$0.30 per sale vs the profit of selling a new iPhone to someone who might've boycotted you platform due to objectionable content.

Re:it's APPLE (1)

Namarrgon (105036) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240637)

It's promotion, pure and simple. They sell more iPhones as a result.

Apple customers want to feel they're being looked after; protected from malware, objectionable content, and any other potentially poor experiences. They're willing to pay extra for that.

Re:it's APPLE (1)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240853)

Actually, if you bothered to RTFA, Apple is lowering their profits and profit margins by censoring.
  Please tell me how not selling apps maximizes profits? Tell me how spending the man hours to censor increases margins?

You really can't see how maintaining a positive image would result in potentially higher sales? Seriously?

Re:it's APPLE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41241059)

Actually, if you bothered to RTFA, Apple is lowering their profits and profit margins by censoring.

Please tell me how not selling apps maximizes profits? Tell me how spending the man hours to censor increases margins?

What the Fuck article did you read? This was an *opinion* piece. No where did they say apple is lowering profits, and
even it it implied it might happen there is zero fact or basis to back it up.

Re:it's APPLE (1)

LodCrappo (705968) | more than 2 years ago | (#41241271)

christ your comment is stupid.

Apple is clearly raising their profits by refusing to allow content that might make their little walled garden less appealing.

They could care less about profits of one or two censored apps, they are protecting the money train that *all the other* apps bring them.

How can anyone believe Apple would do anything for any reason besides profit? Do you think they because the most *profitable* company around by accident? Or because their crap is really that good? Wake up.

Re:it's APPLE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41240475)

There are lots of things Google should do. But it's GOOGLE. They will do whatever it takes to maximize their profits and profit margins, and if that takes censorship or lying they will do it, just like they have no qualms about misusing the patent and trademark systems.

It was GOOGLE that 'lent' some patents to HTC to attack apple. And it didn't work.

Fact check and fixing it for you

http://news.softpedia.com/news/Google-Lends-Helping-Hand-to-HTC-in-Legal-Fight-Against-Apple-220889.shtml [softpedia.com]

Re:it's APPLE (2)

Karlt1 (231423) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240479)

"There are lots of things Apple should do. But it's APPLE. They will do whatever it takes to maximize their profits and profit margins, and if that takes censorship or lying they will do it, just like they have no qualms about misusing the patent and trademark systems."

And how is this different from every single publicly traded company in existence?

Re:it's APPLE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41241333)

Apple could (with relative ease) allow porn apps on the app store - imagine a Reality Kings app, a Shemale Yum app, a Brazzers app, a Penthouse app, a Playboy app, a Barely Legal app, a Japanese Tentacle Rape Porn app... all of them either costing some amount of money, or offering some in-app subscription model, which Apple would get a 30% cut of...

These apps would sell like hotcakes (especially the Shemale Yum one, I've been to 4chan, you nerds don't fool me for a fucking second, you perverts), and generate a substantial amount of revenue for Apple. They already have "rating" systems in place for the apps, they could easily rate these apps 18+, and always require account password to download that class of apps; they could even trivially make the user set a PIN code on download of any 18+ app that would be required to access it - no PIN, no porn.

And yet, despite the fact that they could do it, they have chosen not to, because "porn distributor" is something they've chosen, as a company, not to do. They have chosen to intentionally limit their profits and profit margins, and I can absolutely guarantee you that they'd receive far more money as a result of allowing these apps to be sold on the store than they would receive complaints about them.

Clearly they won't do *whatever* it takes, because they have specifically opted out of selling things that would bring them more profits. So how do you explain this, in light of your assertion that "They will do whatever it takes to maximize their profits and profit margins?"

Re:it's APPLE (1)

EGSonikku (519478) | more than 2 years ago | (#41242049)

To be fair, a lot of porn sites default to an HTML 5 video player if it detects the Safari iOS user agent, such as http://xvideos.com/ [xvideos.com] , http://pornhub.com/ [pornhub.com] , etc.

Isn't this a bit conflicting? (1)

BorgAssimilator (1167391) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240257)

The article says Apple should restrict its bans to apps that have terrible functionality or a poor UI, and 'get out of the business of censorship.'

TFA explains the difference between quality control and censorship, but isn't it kindof the same thing? I understand that yes, there are differences, but why ban an app with a bad UI? Who decides whether it's good or bad?

It seems that if they're against censorship, they'd be against apple banning a third-party app (with no affiliation to apple other than being sold on an Apple market) just because it's not "quality".

Personally, I think apple should let the consumers decide what's good or bad, but it's their company, and it's their prerogative to make that decision.

Re:Isn't this a bit conflicting? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240531)

The article says Apple should restrict its bans to apps that have terrible functionality or a poor UI, and 'get out of the business of censorship.'

TFA explains the difference between quality control and censorship, but isn't it kindof the same thing?

No; barring an app because it doesn't work, or has a visually jarring UI that makes you want to claw your eyes out is quality control. Barring an app because it contains the word "Nigger" or exposes the bad behavior of certain Apple-friendly governments is censorship.

Now, as to whether or not Apple should be doing quality control for apps they did not create, on devices their customers paid for (notice I did not say "owned").

I understand that yes, there are differences, but why ban an app with a bad UI? Who decides whether it's good or bad?

THAT, my friend, is a fair question. To me, as the consumer who paid for and thus owns my devices, I feel that decision should be up to me. My thought process is, "It's my toy, I'll fuck it up if I want to."

As you can probably guess from my aforementioned philosophic stance, I do not own any iDevices, nor shall I.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41240287)

pr0n!!!

Ban apps that break the law (1)

Qwavel (733416) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240321)

Users can decide which apps "have terrible functionality or a poor UI".

Getting Apple out of the business of censorship entirely - they should ban apps that are malware or those that they are forced to remove anyway because they break the law (e.g. hate laws).

The question of which countries' laws should be heeded (if we move beyond just heeding U.S. laws) is complicated, but I think it would have to be the app publisher's country.

Re:Ban apps that break the law (1)

farble1670 (803356) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240467)

The question of which countries' laws should be heeded (if we move beyond just heeding U.S. laws) is complicated, but I think it would have to be the app publisher's country.

actually, it has to be the lowest common denominator of the laws in all countries where the app is available. they aren't going to allow an app with full XXX action for all countries just because it's legal in the publisher's home.

Content Neutrality (1, Insightful)

accessbob (962147) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240327)

Given the ever-shrinking range of platforms on offer, it's time we had content neutrality rules. Verizon shouldn't get to interfere with how I use my bandwidth, and nor should Apple (or Google, or RIM, or Nokia).

Re:Content Neutrality (1)

Karlt1 (231423) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240527)

"Verizon shouldn't get to interfere with how I use my bandwidth, and nor should Apple (or Google, or RIM, or Nokia)."

You're free to use the included web browser to view in content you desire. So if someone can force Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Netflix to sell any content, then does that mean they should be forced to sell porn?

Re:Content Neutrality (1)

accessbob (962147) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240739)

You're free to use the included web browser to view in content you desire. So if someone can force Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Netflix to sell any content, then does that mean they should be forced to sell porn?

Only if the business acts as a controlled gateway to a very restricted market, which is the case with the current mobile platforms (and only if the content is legal). It is not for Apple to play at being the arbiter of morality and taste any more than it is for Verizon or AT&T.

Btw there is currently a significant performance gap between native and web apps, you can't compare the two.

Re:Content Neutrality (1)

Karlt1 (231423) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240795)

"Only if the business acts as a controlled gateway to a very restricted market, which is the case with the current mobile platforms (and only if the content is legal)."

Let's take this to a logical conclusion. Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo strictly control what is on their gaming platform. So if someone made a game where you get points for how many people you rape, should the platform vendor be forced to make the game available? Even though the act is illegal, the game isn't.

Re:Content Neutrality (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 2 years ago | (#41241483)

Only if the business acts as a controlled gateway to a very restricted market, which is the case with the current mobile platforms (and only if the content is legal). It is not for Apple to play at being the arbiter of morality and taste any more than it is for Verizon or AT&T.

But they're not restricting you from accessing and viewing porn on their devices - fire up any of the numerous porn-oriented tube sites online in the safari browser, and you will have a plethora of porn available, right there on your device. Snap some sexy pictures of your lady friend and you engaged in a romantic liasion. Record some video of the same thing. Download all kinds of fiction (including plenty burly-chested-men with heaving-bosomed women types of semi-erotic, erotic, and downright pornographic fiction available via the Kindle Apps and even the iBooks store), add all kinds of photos and videos as well if you want - the possibilities are quite diverse. You just won't buy the porn content from Apple, because Apple declines to carry apps that include (or directly sell) pornography in its store.

Why should Apple (or ANYBODY ELSE) be forced to sell something they don't care to sell in their store? You wouldn't argue that Best Buy should be *compelled* to carry porn because they sell DVD players... you wouldn't argue that Blockbuster should be *compelled* to carry porn because they rent other types of movies... each store selects the merchandise it's willing to sell based on the values of the company - and you know the restriction is there from the moment you buy an Apple device, there's no bait and switch happening; if you don't like those terms, the Android and Windows and RIM phones are still quite available, and some of them DO allow porn on their app markets, so perhaps one of those would be a better choice.

But your argument that Apple is somehow controlling your access to this content by declining to sell it in their own store space is a little foolish. There's no shortage of iphone and ipad-capable porn, and in fact, you can load all kinds of pornographic content on your iPhone, if you want to - you just have to buy it (or access it) at sites other than the itunes store.

Re:Content Neutrality (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240839)

You are not so free if you live in a place where your TLS connections are being tampered with -- which is, unfortunately, quite a lot of places. The App Store gives you a digitally signed program, so you have at least some assurance that it was not tampered with (there are no CAs involved; Apple's key is built in). That is the benefit of the App Store; the problem is that the key holder (Apple) has absurd, far-right policies banning applications that might offend anyone or which criticize politicians (and don't think for a moment that this is anything less than an enforcement of conservative values; yes, Democrats are conservative).

Re:Content Neutrality (3, Insightful)

Americano (920576) | more than 2 years ago | (#41241629)

You are not so free if you live in a place where your TLS connections are being tampered with -- which is, unfortunately, quite a lot of places. The App Store gives you a digitally signed program, so you have at least some assurance that it was not tampered with (there are no CAs involved; Apple's key is built in). That is the benefit of the App Store; the problem is that the key holder (Apple) has absurd, far-right policies banning applications that might offend anyone or which criticize politicians (and don't think for a moment that this is anything less than an enforcement of conservative values; yes, Democrats are conservative).

How absurd. Apple's policies are no more "far right" than they are "far left." Their policies are "adhere to the blandly inoffensive at all times."

You will no more find "Whack the Christ-Loving White Trash" app for the iPhone than you will find "Whack a San Francisco Queer." Both would be wildly offensive to differing segments of the population, and Apple would ban both, because they don't want any potential customers to be offended into buying a competitor's product. You'll probably find "Whack a Mole" and other inoffensive variants of that same game, though; and apps like Evernote, Netflix, and Facebook are pretty much entirely inoffensive in their functionality, and so may be safely sold. (Best Buy will sell you a DVD player... but they won't sell you porn, will they? Why do you imagine that is?)

This leaves you - the self-styled free-thinker demographic that just likes to get offended and cries "censorship" because somebody tries to keep their store bland and inoffensive, even though all the "offensive" content you want is a single click away in a web browser on ANY device. Fortunately for Apple, you're a fairly small market, and you would've bought a competitor's device anyway, so you're both irrelevant to and happily negligible in their business decisions.

Free the Apps (1)

pubwvj (1045960) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240383)

Well, you don't have to buy from Apple. You can Jailbreak your iOS device or just use other hardware. It isn't like this is 1984 with Big Apple telling you that you must buy an iPhone. Heck, you don't have to buy a cell phone either. Stick with a land line. Or not.

Me things some people have too much time to complain about too little.

Re:Free the Apps (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240793)

It isn't like this is 1984 with Big Apple telling you that you must buy an iPhone

No, this is more like Brave New World, where you are a social outcast if you do not choose to participate in the attacks on your freedom. I do not have Facebook, I do not have a smart phone and I do not even carry my dumb phone around, and I have to keep reminding people to email me if they want to invite me to something. Now, I am in a position where not being invited to parties is OK (grad school can really take up one's life) and I have little time for gossip, but I can understand that to be part of the mainstream of modern society, one must have certain online accounts / electronics / etc.

The problem is that we have not yet acknowledged that Apple's control over iOS requires them to behave ethically and responsibly; we are still clinging to the "greed is good" fantasy that says, "Well if they are making money, all is well with the world!" If Apple is going to control an important communications tool that the mainstream of society relies on, they are going to have to stop censoring political uses of that tool, period.

Re:Free the Apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41241775)

Nor fraternizing with useless eaters is not necessarily a bad thing...

Re:Free the Apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41242873)

Grandma - is that you?

Instead of Google being the worst job, Apple could (1)

justcauseisjustthat (1150803) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240465)

I remember there being a story about youtube sensors having the worst job in the world (in some peoples opinion), if Apple opened the floodgate they would have the same issue.

I think they should release Gatekeeper with iOS 6 (or as an update)!!

Counter question... (1)

Yaa 101 (664725) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240489)

Why do you think that Apple has a 100 billion cashflow and is the highest ranked business on the stock exchange?
There are many defense companies of which you would say, why are they rated lower than a consumer grade shiny mirror company?
Could it be that the consumer grade shiny mirror company is worth more to the 1% and the authorities than all the other defense companies?

Why would you think that is? You connect the dots.
If you found the answer then you would also have found the answer to why Apple is banning people to see where dronestrikes take place.

Re:Counter question... (1)

LodCrappo (705968) | more than 2 years ago | (#41241337)

While I applaud your suggestion of grand conspiracy, I think in this case it's likely Apple is simply rated so highly because they manage to sell stuff for a massive amount more than it costs them to make it. Apple is better at converting their customer's money into their own money than maybe any other corporation in the world.

Draw Mohammed's Face (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240547)

And your iPhone sets itself on fire. There's an app for that.

Insane (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240567)

The article is insane. Apple processes credit cards in exchange for applications it sells on its stores. It acts as reviewer, agent, payment processor and takes a percentage of proceeds. They are not common carriers of applications. There is not a court in the United States and I suspect in most other places in the world that wouldn't consider them liable for what is sold in the online Apple Store. They simply cannot adopt a policy of non-censorship.

I would like to see a more open process but total freedom isn't possible with their model.

Re:Insane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41242113)

This is the US. Kill all censors. Fuck the rest of the world.

3rd party apps stores are need and they should (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240645)

3rd party apps stores are need and they should part of the base software or are open to be installed without needing to do any hacking.

Re:3rd party apps stores are need and they should (1)

gagol (583737) | more than 2 years ago | (#41242535)

Gravy: Add flags to tag content as Mature, Violent, etc and have parental lock and preferences... Also please add "Im not a retard, show me more options" setting.

First (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41240703)

"First Apple rejected the application claiming it was 'not useful or entertaining enough"

I maintain that Apple should have remained within this line of reasoning, as the app is really not useful or entertaining enough. A.K.A. don't feed the app troll.

The content doedn't matter (3, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 2 years ago | (#41240843)

The app is basically a web page. It doesn't belong in the app store and should be used via safari.

Apple runs their store like many shops and decides what they want to sell. You can do whatever you want in the browser. Which is fine by me. We need to start pushing HTML 5 harder. It's pretty good to go on real browsers.

Name one retailer that doesn't vet its wares (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41241477)

Brick-and-mortar retailers like Walmart and Sears obviously vet their products and wares very carefully.

An online retailer like Amazon does the same. Same with iTunes music and movie selection.

Even EBay, of all companies, has standards for the products that get sold in its marketplace.

So where does an "App Store" paradigm fall? Is Apple no longer a "retailer", but just a generic go-between like Craigslist?

I completely disagree... (1)

stevenfuzz (2510476) | more than 2 years ago | (#41241845)

What happens when a developer releases an app that is better than a stock app? Siri for example (most unbelievably over-hyped and useless thing I have ever tried to use). If not all IPhones have complete stock functionality (like phones didn't have siri), then obviously Apple should not allow any Apps that emulate Apple App functionality. I mean, if they didn't, why would anyone have bought the IPhone 4s? It just makes sense. As customers, Apple is right to decide what we can and can't do on their phones. Hell, if they didn't moderate apps, someone could design something to allow HTML uploads, or worse, imagine you could use google GPS? Apple is smarter and cooler than us, it just seams like we should bow down and agree with what they choose. I don't even understand the point of this article.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41242097)

Why Apple should stop censoring Apps?

  Oh I don't know, maybe because censorship is bad ? Maybe because it is a totalitarian practice that is evil in the hands of a legitimate democratic government, let alone a profit driven private enterprise ?

  next up : why China shouldn't expropriate millions of his peasants.

What a load of rubbish. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41242123)

This is Apple's store we're talking about -- I think people lose this perspective sometimes. Saying "oh, they should stock something in their store, because QQ I don't think it's fair" is completely ridiculous. People have stores. People stock in those stores what they think it will be profitable for their business. It doesn't matter what you or I think would be great for them to stock in their stores... in the end, it's their FREAKING store.

Apple is a cunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41242545)

Anyone who buys Apple products is a cunt.

Don't be a cunt.

Apple also censors orthodox Christianity (1)

JOrgePeixoto (853808) | more than 2 years ago | (#41242747)

Re:Apple also censors orthodox Christianity (1)

PatrickEinheber (2723727) | more than 2 years ago | (#41243631)

Here's a letter I sent to Apple last year about this:

Dear Mr. Jobs and Mr. Cook,

You've probably received a lot of positive and negative feedback lately about Apple's ban of the Manhattan Declaration app.

As a person who experiences same-sex attraction, I'd like to say that I am not intimidated or alarmed by this document. What does intimidate and alarm me, however, is Apple's refusal to allow an application expressing a particular religious/political view to be presented in the App Store.

It is difficult to understand why Apple would take the position that this particular document represents an occasion of harm to a group
when the document insists that everyone is deserving of compassion and respect and has equal dignity. I cannot help but be left with the notion that Apple has stood in judgement over the point of view expressed and has decided it should not be allowed in the arena of
discussion. In my opinion, this type of censorship has a much greater potential for harm than any religious or political statement and it
affects us all adversely. As someone once wrote, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." This ought to be the position of all guardians and repositories of information such as Apple.

In summary, I would like to request that Apple allow freedom of religious and political expression in the App Store and reinstate the
Manhattan Declaration app. I've always enjoyed Apple products and felt they were of the highest quality, but if anything will persuade me to part ways with the company, this type of censorship will.

Sincerely,
Patrick Einheber

No One Would Care if this was Android App (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41243539)

If this occurred on the Google/Android App store no one would care, they would just agree what the point would be of having an app that a simple webpage could provide. That is one of Apple's stipulations of an app, that it not be just some webpage (crude paraphrasing), but it makes sense. Why add an app a bookmark could cover?

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