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Nudity? There’s NOT really an App for that.

March 16th, 2010

There are apps for cooks.  Apps for music.  Apps for the great outdoors.  There’s even an app that simulates farting noises.

But just when you thought Apple’s iPhone had an app for everything known to man, you find out that even Apple’s iPhone has a limit. 

App Image

App Image

Last year, freelance photographer Sebastian Kempa, who lives near Dortmund, Germany, began a project to show how clothes “are our second layer of skin.” According to Kempa, “clothes disguise, reveal, mirror our innermost being or help to hide it.” Kempa has taken pictures of dozens of people with and without their clothing, and is showing the “before” and “after” results on the site, www.naked-people.de.

Kempa along with many people in Germany, do not consider his work anywhere near pornographic, so Kempa was shocked when he tried to create an iPhone application for his online exhibition, and it was rejected by Apple.  In a second attempt to make the application work, aware that Apple wouldn’t display anyone without clothing, Kempa used pictures of the models in clothing and in underwear, rather than fully naked, and called the application Not Quite Naked People.

Apple’s response?  No dice,

This is not all that surprising considering the fact that last month, Apple made the decision to remove nearly all “sexy” content from the App Store,  although some applications like Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit app and Playboy were allowed to remain.   Apple SVP of Worldwide Product Marketing, Phil Schiller, said “It came to the point where we were getting customer complaints from women who found the content getting too degrading and objectionable, as well as parents who were upset with what their kids were able to see.”  When asked about the Sports Illustrated app, Mr. Schiller said Apple took the source and intent of an app into consideration. “The difference is this is a well-known company with previously published material available broadly in a well-accepted format.”

Just last week, the iPhone application for another newsmagazine, Stern, was blocked by Apple for several weeks, apparently because it included a fashion photo with a nude model.   As for Mr. Kempa, an Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on his website and instead referred to Schiller’s recent comment on all “sexy” content.

That explanation worries some German publishers who don’t think a technology company in California should be allowed to decide what is objectionable to the rest of the world.

So where do you draw the line?  Is judging “sexy” content on a case by case basis a slippery slope or a fair way for Apple to assert “good judgment?”  While the fate of these racey apps is yet to be determined, I have a feeling they will increasingly become a part of Apple’s past and not its present.

Posted Under: Innovation & Technology, Media & Journalism
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