Conflict sparks debate about online censorship and highlights Apple’s control over software platform
The International Federation of the Periodical Press (FIPP) is considering making a complaint to Apple over the computer firm’s request that German publisher Springer censor the naked girls on one of its iPhone apps. Springer-owned tabloid Bild’s “Shake the Bild Girl” app allows iPhone users to undress a model. Each time the user shakes the phone, the girl strips an item of her clothing. While Bild features naked women daily in its pages, Apple ruled that the girls in its iPhone app should wear bikinis. The Association of German Magazine Publishers (VDZ) asked FIPP last week to approach Apple over the issue. FIPP is debating the issue, but has no further comment at the moment. The VDZ chief executive, Wolfgang Fuerstner, has warned that Apple’s move might represent a move towards censorship. Apple asks publishers of general interest apps to respect its US “no nipples” policy. In November, German weekly Stern’s app was dropped from the App Store due to an erotic photo gallery. Apple’s intervention has made it clear to publishers that they find themselves in a new role in a digital world. When Apple announced at the end of February that it would “remove any overtly sexual content from the App Store”, publishers had to follow that request. It is Apple that has final control over its platform, not the publishers.