The Apple App store has an incredibly byzantine set of rules that make it almost impossible for app developers to navigate. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the approval process is often random and unevenly applied.
Take for instance the case of 500px, a mobile photo-sharing app not that dissimilar from Instagram or Flickr. Many of its users are professional photographers and, yes, some have nude images in their photostream, but, according to a report from TechCrunch, Apple randomly pulled the app this week after it had been in the store since October 2011.
Apple claims the app makes it too easy for people to find nude images, which seems rather ridiculous considering safe search protecting sensitive eyes (think of the children!!!) from private parts on the phone is automatically turned on and in order to disable it, users have to visit the company's desktop Web site.
But the problem isn't that 500px gives users access to potentially naked humans -- heaven forbid -- but that there are a million ways to find naked pictures and porn on your phone and, more importantly, there are Web apps in the App Store specifically for viewing pictures of naked people.
The most egregious example would be Playboy. Here's its description from the App Store Web site:
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Playboy for iPhone is updated with exclusive non-nude girl pictorials and original lifestyle content (Food, Drink, Style, Travel). The app also takes you inside Playboy Magazine, featuring the very best articles from the latest issue. Enjoy a selection of free girl galleries, full-length articles, and downloadable bonus content.
No doubt Apple ninnies would say, "Well, they require a subscription." Um, so what? If that is all it takes to get around the rule, that is easily solved. Besides, if a "web app" is created -- you view those through a browser on your phone rather than through an actual app interface -- you can show whatever you damn well please including actual porn.
For me, the most important question to ask is, why does Apple care? If it weren't for porn, it is very likely many of the things we have come to use every day online -- e-commerce, streaming video -- would not exist, or if they did, they wouldn't be to the extent they are today. People want to look at other people naked. It's just the way it is. Requiring apps to have child safety protection is as far as they should be forced to go. It's all the federal government requires for medicine bottles and movies. Why is it any different for Apple?