23 December 2010

Shame on Apple

As a long-time fan of Apple (the only computers I have ever owned are Macs, including my current iMac), I was more than a little disappointed to hear the company had joined the corporate mob attempting to suppress WikiLeaks. Earlier this week, it pulled a WikiLeaks application from its iTunes store. And this isn't the first venture into censorship by the company. Apple has also banned apps with political cartoons and gay travel guides, leading the Guardian newspaper to observe that "many magazine publishers developing 'apps' for the new iPad... have had to self-censor."

As for pulling the WikiLeaks app, Apple explained, "We removed WikiLeaks because it violated developer guidelines. An app must comply with all local laws. It may not put an individual or target group in harm's way." What nonsense. WikiLeaks hasn't been convicted of breaking any laws and the release of the diplomatic cables has caused no loss of life. In fact, WikiLeaks has released the material quite responsibly. By channeling it through respectable newspapers like the Guardian and The New York Times, it has combined its ability to gather vast amounts of data with the editing and reporting skills of the conventional media. Names, locations and dates that could put people at risk have been carefully redacted.

Strictly speaking, the WikiLeaks app did violate the store rule that apps enabling donations must be free and this one was not (it cost $1.99). However, Apple could have gotten around that simply by insisting the app be given away. Instead, it banned it permanently.

What next, one wonders, will Apple and its corporate friends like Amazon, MasterCard, Visa and PayPal be up to? Suppressing the Guardian and The New York Times? This is not one of Steven Jobs finer moments.

I would hate to stop buying Apple, but for the very first time I'm having doubts. And, fortunately, I can still get WikiLeaks on my browser.

1 comment:

  1. what's next?
    the postal services.... checking to see if it's a donation to Wikileaks?
    We've already been thru the after college job thing.
    Maybe difficulty at the border for having attempted or having given a donation?
    Sign I wonder if there's been a significant decline in paypal,credit card, Amazon use? Difficult to tell with Christmas. I tried but caved to a paypal ring up and 2 VISA charges.