Google Music is mixing up clean and explicit versions of songs
|30th December 2012
27th December 2012. From examiner.com
Google Music's new scan-and-match feature for its music service means that users no longer need to upload their sounds to their cloud drive. If a song matches one in the library, then the library copy can be used instead.
began emerging as users discovered that the scan-and-match technology was matching songs with explicit lyrics with clean versions. You might, for example, see your version of Katy Perry's Teenage Dream album (explicit) replaced with the clean
This seems more bug than deliberate censorship though. There's a reason to believe that: Some users are experiencing exactly the opposite, seeing their clean versions of songs replaced with explicit versions.
Update: A Fix
30th December 2012. See article from
As a solution to the problem, Google Play, now offers a Fix Incorrect Match option that overrides the initial match.
The actual song file will
be uploaded to the service instead of using Google's matching system.
Book banned by Syria and Apple
|17th November 2012 |
See article from
Europa Editions, a publisher of world literature, wrote on their Facebook page that one of their novels, The Proof of the Honey by Salwa Al Neimi, has been removed from the iTunes bookstore due to the image on its cover.
novel discusses the role of sex in modern Arabic society, and its cover features the backside of a reclining, naked woman. This may seem worthy of removal, but, as Europa Editions points out, classical nudes by Ingres, Renoir, and Botticelli, not to
mention photography by Man Ray, are not deemed inappropriate by Apple, nor are modern books with similar covers.
The Proof of the Honey has been banned in the author's home country of Syria as well.
For that reason, publishers such as
Melville House have called this censorship particularly appalling. Melville House also notes that the timing of the removal is peculiar: the book had previously been available in the iTunes store since 2009.
Hippie 1 and Hippie 2 by Peter Ovig Knudsens
|7th November 2012
See article from
A Danish author's ebooks documenting freewheeling hippie nudity have been rejected from Apple's iBookstore in that country, even after the author and publisher covered up the offending naughty bits -- with images of ripe red apples.
At issue are
two ebooks for the iPhone and iPad. These feature 14 images from acclaimed photographer Gregers Nielsen.
Perhaps the choice of apples rather than neutral black blocks offended Apple's pride as much as its prudery
Company first tried to get uncensored version of the two ebooks Hippie 1 and Hippie 2 into Apple's iBookstore, but as Hippie Company reported in a press release, Apple required the images to be censored. The publisher then did so by placing
red apples over the exposed breasts, penises, and what have you, then resubmitted the two ebooks.
Apple then accepted them, and put them up on its Denmark iBookstore. However, Hippie Company's witty censorship methodology was apparently not
appreciated: after four days, they were removed without explanation
|17th October 2012 |
Apple Has Quietly Started Tracking iPhone Users Again, And It's Tricky To Opt Out
article from businessinsider.com
Vivid works around Apple censorship to produce iPhone porn App
|2nd October 2012 |
Vivid Entertainment, a leading adult film studio, has launched Vivid Touch , a unique browser-delivered, gesture-based web application for Apple smart phones and tablet devices that allows browsing for sexy film clips via Apple's standard
finger gestures. The new web application can be used with the iPhone5.
Steven Hirsch, founder/co-CEO of Vivid Entertainment said:
Up to now it has been notoriously difficult to create adult-related web apps for
Apple products, but we have found a way to do it. Vivid Touch is browser-delivered, gesture-based and does not require downloading of an application from a store, and no programs need to be installed by the user. The unique web application allows the
smart phone and tablet user to access content quickly and easily, with amazing clarity. We're rolling it out first for Apple products, but an Android version is in development.
Miserable US members of Congress pressure Google into dropping sex work app
|25th September 2012 |
See article from
Google has removed a sex trade app from its Google Play marketplace after pressure from members of the US Congress.
The Udoopi app bills itself as the first Escorts 2.0 app and promises All the paid sex of your city geolocated and always
available on your mobile, iPad and computer. JOIN THE SEX CLUB.
Representative Carolyn Maloney raised the issue in a letter to Google's CEO Larry Page:
- Apart from Google's donations to large human rights organizations, what is your company doing internally to ensure that sexually exploitative advertisements do not appear?
- What is Google's stated internal policy regarding exploitative
advertising? What evidence do you have that those policies are being complied with by both Google's internal and external advertising sales teams?
- What steps does Google take to instruct its advertising sales managers, consultants, and other
employees regarding the evaluation of advertisers of such exploitative marketing?
- If Google were to determine that it profits from such advertising, what steps would you take to ensure those profits were publicly disclosed and then disgorged?
Would that process require restating Google's earnings for past securities filings?
Google says it prohibits sex work advertising from its Adwords network and co-operates with law enforcement agencies. ?
Apple censors app informing users of US drone strikes
|31st August 2012 |
Thanks to Nick
See article from
Apple are censoring an app that sends users a pop-up notice whenever a flying robots kills someone in one of America's many undeclared wars.
Apple keeps blocking the Drones+ program from its App Store, and therefore, from iPhones everywhere. The
company claims that the content is objectionable and crude, according to Apple's latest rejection letter.
It's the third time in a month that Apple has turned Drones+ away, says Josh Begley, the program's New York-based developer. The
company's reasons for keeping the program out of the App Store keep shifting. First, Apple called the bare-bones application that aggregates news of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia not useful. Then there was an issue with hiding
a corporate logo. And now, there's this crude content problem.
Begley explains that Drones+ doesn't present grisly images of corpses left in the aftermath of the strikes. It just tells users when a strike has occurred, going off a publicly
available database of strikes compiled by the U.K.'s Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which compiles media accounts of the strikes.
US authorities seize websites offering pirated Android apps
|30th August 2012 |
See article from
The US Department of Justice has seized the domain names of three websites offering pirated Android apps.
With help from French and Dutch police, the FBI took over applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com. In their place visitors to the
sites now see the familiar FBI seizure banner.
The domain seizures are the first of their kind against rogue mobile app marketplaces.
Leading up to the actions FBI agents downloaded thousands of popular Android apps from the websites
without charge. FBI Special Agent Brian Lamkin who led the operation described this type of online piracy as a growing problem that can't be ignored.
A warning that iCloud back ups are readily open to surveillance once the password has been cracked
|25th May 2012 |
Police, or anyone with a piece of spying software called Phone Password Breaker, can download all of a device owner's data from Apple's iCloud service. This is used to back up pictures, text messages, emails, calendar appointments, call logs, and
logs of websites visited.
ElcomSoft chief executive Vladimir Katalov said:
While other [phone monitoring] methods require the presence of the actual iPhone device being analysed or at least an access to device
backups, this is not the case with iCloud.
In a sense, Phone Password Breaker becomes an alternative way to get access to iOS devices. With a valid Apple ID and a password, investigators can not only retrieve backups to seized
devices, but access that information in real-time while the phone is still in the hands of a suspect.
The majority of iPhone and iPad users use iCloud to back up all of their data, apps and media - with an estimated 125million people
using the software as of April.
The researchers at ElcomSoft studied the communication protocol connecting iPhone users with the iCloud, and were able to figure out the right commands to retrieve data stored on the servers. Their job was made even
easier as the data is received in an unencrypted format.
The only way to protect yourself is to either not back up your phone, or do local offline backups on your home computer via iTunes.
|19th May |
Low quality censorship by Apple blanks out name of Thin Lizzy album
See article from
Apple in the US considers the word 'jailbreak' to be an obscenity in need of asterixing to 'j*******k. They may consider it an obscenity that people may want to break free of their control freakery and use Apple devices on the network of their choice.
However it does seem a bit much that the Thin Lizzy album of the same name should get subjected to this nonsense.
But there you go!. The odd bit of censorship was first discussed on Twitter and apparently iBooks are also subject to the same
j*******k censorship. It also transpires that the 'jailbreak' is only censored in the US, and European products from their local iTunes are left unscathed.
Update: Released on Parole
19th May 2012. See
article from amog.com
Apple has now addressed the bad publicity
about their ludicrous censorship. The company lifted the censorship and the fearful word has started to appear across iTunes.
|12th May |
German news magazine censors cover in fear of censorial Apple banning its app
The German news magazine Focus has announced that it has altered the digital version of its current issue, screening the bared breasts of the female front cover model to avoid a possible run-in with Apple.
The action followed pressure from digital
distributor Zinio, an iPad app, to adhere to Apple's censorial requirements regarding nudity. Apple had not actually made any complaints.
Zinio threatened to withhold the issue from the Internet, a Focus spokesman said. He said that
censorship stemming from prudery did not comport with the magazine's concept of freedom of the press.
The cover story offered 22 tips on skin care, and the topless model displayed more skin than Zinio was comfortable with. However there is still
an uncensored photograph of the model on page three.
|6th May |
Orange found to be blocking website for peace campaign
Thanks to David
See article from
The past few days have seen a lot of attention given to the neo Mary Whitehouse campaign for default censorship. It's important to remember that filtering systems are fallible - for example, they catch too much content, whether by accident or
Today we happened upon a fine example. Through our reporting website Blocked.org.uk , we established that the website of anti-violence advocates
Conciliation Resources is blocked by mobile networks Orange, O2 and Vodafone by their child protection filters.
Here's what Conciliation Resources actually do:
supports people at the heart of conflicts who are striving to find solutions. We work with them to deepen our collective understanding of the conflict, bring together divided communities and create opportunities for them to resolve their differences peacefully.
I had a look around the site, and I couldn't find any pornography. Or any reason why it would be a bad idea for a young person to have access to the site.
Maybe its blocked simply because it frequently uses the word 'violence', eg in
the strapline: Preventing violence, building peace.
This is clearly a mistake. But it demonstrates a key flaw with Internet filtering. It tends to block far too much content, both because the categories of blockable content are so vague and
broad (see Orange's categories below) and because the systems doing the filtering make mistakes. And because the decisions are made on the cheap as there are so many websites to get through.
Orange Categories for blocking. See
article from help.orange.co.uk
Anonymizers: These sites allow you to browse the Internet and access content anonymously.
Anorexia - Bulimia: Promoting and instigating eating disorders.
Gambling: Access to online gambling such as casinos and any other online services that let you place bets.
Chat: Where you chat in real time to people you
Bombs: Explaining how to prepare, make, build and use explosives and explosive devices.
Dating: Websites for match-making where the user can
meet other people - make friends, find a partner, etc.
Forums: Where you’re invited to take part in discussions on predetermined topics with people you don’t know.
Pornography: Websites with a pornographic or sexual content.
Racism: Sites promoting racist behaviour based on culture, race, religion, ideology, etc.
Sects: Websites on universally acknowledged sects. Within this category URLs are included on organizations that promote directly or indirectly: (i) group, animal or individual injuries, (ii) esoteric practices, (iii) content
that sets a bad example for young children: that teaches or encourages children to perform harmful acts or imitate dangerous behaviour, (iv) content that creates feelings of fear, intimidation, horror, or psychological terror, (v) Incitement or depiction
of harm against any individual or group based on gender, sexual orientation, ethnic, religious or national identity.
Violence: Containing openly violent content and/or that promote violence or defend it.
Perhaps the blocking decisions could be made robust by allowing business and campaigns such as Conciliation Resources a straightforward process to sue for lost earnings and donations from incompetent censorship
|2nd May |
Microsoft goes even more censorial about its Marketplace apps store
See article from
Microsoft has announced further censorship of its phone-app store to remove software containing racy or sexual content.
The firm's Windows Phone Marketplace guidelines already ban content that a reasonable person would consider to
be adult or borderline adult content .
However, the firm said that it had decided to enforce a more stringent interpretation of the rules. Microsoft's senior director for Windows Marketplace, Todd Brix said:
Specifically, we will be paying more attention to the icons, titles, and content of these apps and expect them to be more subtle and modest in the imagery and terms used.
This is about presenting the right content to the right
customer and ensuring that apps meet our standards.
The firm suggested that developers could use silhouettes as a possible alternative to more risky images. It added that app writers who fell foul of its crackdown would be contacted
over the next few days.
|17th April |
India obtains the capability to snoop on BlackBerry Messenger
See article from
Indian security agencies have confirmed to Mail Today that the process to access the Blackberry Messenger (BBM) service would be up and running soon.
Official sources said they would intercept BBM messages in cases where they suspected that the
devices were being used to perpetrate crimes.
Department of Telecommunications (DoT) secretary R. Chandrashekhar told Mail Today that the arrangements were being put in place and the process had begun for lawful interception of BBM services: Directions can be given to any service provider for interception of all BlackBerry services.
Here's how Big Brother will snoop on BBMs. The security agency concerned will first have to approach the Union Home Ministry and seek its permission to tap a particular BBM user's number. The agency will then send a request to a service
provider to access the data of the number. This will be followed by the operator connecting to the agency's channel and divulging the user's communication details.
Asked about the BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES), which gives a smartphone user
access to a corporate intranet, Chandrashekhar said: We have found a satisfactory way forward. A plan of action has been chalked out for all BlackBerry services (including BES) and there is concurrence on how it will be executed. The matter was
discussed with the home ministry and other security agencies, and the method has been finalised. He said: It's not that access to enterprise service is not available. But the process is cumbersome. In order to access BES, the government
agencies have to tap into service providers that store emails in decrypted (readable) format before they are encrypted and pushed to the recipient's device. The government believes BES is not of very high importance to intelligence and security agencies,
but has asked service providers to share a list of all servers (approximately 5,000 in India).
RIM reprehensively are refusing to comment on the snooping capability. You'd think that they would let their subscribers know about where they stand
with governments being able to intercept their communications.
|1st April |
Shoe Wars game app banned in Saudi
See article from
shoewarsapp.com have confirmed that the Show Wars game has been withdrawn from sale in Saudi Arabia.
This decision was made following feedback that the female character's
jumping sound effect was considered too sexual and may cause cultural offence.
A modified version of the app will be available in S.A., in April without this supposedly objectionable content.
The objective of the game is to navigate
through the SW Department store at SALE time and spend as much on your credit card as possible.
|29th March |
Ludicrous Apple censors ban Geometric Porn app
See trailer from
The Geometric Porn website describes itself as:
Something abstract existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence. Visual geometry containing the non-explicit description of
sexual organs or activity. Arising in the mind it intends to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings.
GeometricPorn is a project by Luciano Foglia, a multidisciplinary visual artist. He has been working in the
design industry for over ten years focusing on interactive design, code based animations and music. His personal time is spent exploring new ways of expression in music and art, working from his studio in London, Hackney Wick.
Geometric Porn App has been rejected by Apple censors as explained on the website:
Reasons for Rejection:
16.1: Apps that present excessively objectionable or crude content will be rejected. We found that many audiences would find your app concept objectionable, which is not
in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines.
|14th March |
PhonepayPlus announces its budget for the next financial year
See article from
UK premium rate services (PRS) regulator PhonepayPlus has confirmed its budget for 2012/2013, following consultation with industry and approval from Ofcom.
It expects the total cost of PRS regulation in 2012/13, covering PhonepayPlus' core
activity and the Registration Scheme, to be around GBP 4.09 million.
PhonepayPlus has announced the adjusted industry levy for 2012/13 together with a new Registration Scheme fee structure for the coming financial year.
|21st February |
Orange UK are blocking French digital rights campaign group
See article from
Through reports to the blocked.org.uk site, we have established that Orange UK are filtering access to La Quadrature Du Net's website on pre-paid mobile accounts.
Quadrature Du Net is similar to ORG -- it is an advocacy group that seeks to defend citizen's fundamental rights on the Internet. They have been a leading voice in the growing movement to oppose the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, behind which so
much momentum is gathering. They have provided detailed analyses alongside practical suggestions about how to help with the political effort to oppose the treaty.
Searching for LQDN's website on Orange pre-pay handsets leads to a warning that Orange Safeguard has classified this page as only suitable for people over the age of 18.
LQDN's site does not contain any such material. But it still falls within the parameter of adult-related material.
That La Quadrature Du Net is blocked under such a policy highlights the need for change. The problem of over-blocking is being
exacerbated by a lack of transparency (so that it's not clear what is blocked and to whom) and the problems users experience trying to opt-out.
We're gathering more evidence of the scale of the over-blocking problem through blocked.org.uk site,
and you can help by reporting inappropriate blocks you find. We're currently in the process of meeting the mobile operators and the Mobile Broadband Group to tell them our concerns and outline how we think the problems can be addressed. More efficient
measures need to be implemented in order to allow parents to implement tools to try to manage their children's Internet use whilst ensuring that adults are not subject to unnecessary censorship.
Report blocked websites at
|10th February |
Apple censors science magazine over an article about the penis
article from gizmodo.com
|3rd February |
Apple's cloud computing service substitutes cleaned up versions for your mp3s uploaded with explicit lyrics
See article from
Apple is censoring rap music and other explicit tracks downloaded using its iTunes Match service by replacing them with the clean versions of the same songs.
According to a report in Cult of Mac, confirmed in tests by Mashable, songs uploaded
to the service with explicit lyrics are automatically replaced by the clean version of the song.
iTunes Match is an optional service that costs $25 a year. It matches songs in your iTunes library with high-quality versions on Apple's servers, and
lets you play and download your choice of those songs to your iPhone, iPod or iPad.
In Mashable's test, a ripped copy of Jay-Z's The Black Album (with explicit lyrics) was uploaded to iTunes Match, where it was promptly replaced by the
clean version. Cult of Mac found the problem affected songs by Jay-Z, Kanye West and Ice Cube.
The problem does not seem to affect music that was actually bought on iTunes.
According to 9to5Mac, a reader contacted Eddy Cue, Apple's Senior
Vice President of Internet Software and Services, about this issue, and received a response from one of his engineers. The email acknowledged the existence of the problem, and said Apple was working on a fix.
|2nd February |
So why do iPhone and iPod keep an unencrypted file detailing your location over the last year? And why do they back it up on your computer?
See article from
See also iPhone Tracker application for download from
Security researchers have discovered that Apple's iPhone keeps a record of where you go -- and saves every detail of it to a secret file on the device which is then copied to the owner's computer when the two are synchronised.
contains the latitude and longitude of the phone's recorded coordinates along with a timestamp, meaning that anyone who stole the phone or the computer could discover details about the owner's movements using a simple program.
For some phones,
there could be almost a year's worth of data stored, as the recording of data seems to have started with Apple's iOS 4 update to the phone's operating system, released in June 2010.
Apple has made it possible for almost anybody -- a jealous
spouse, a private detective -- with access to your phone or computer to get detailed information about where you've been, said Pete Warden, one of the researchers.
Although mobile networks already record phones' locations, it is only available
to the police and other recognised organisations following a court order under the Regulation of Investigatory Power Act.
Warden and Allan have set up a web page which answers questions about the file, and created a simple downloadable application
to let Apple users check for themselves what location data the phone is retaining.
The Guardian has confirmed that 3G-enabled devices including the iPad also retain the data and copy it to the owner's computer.
|14th January |
Open Rights Group set up facility to monitor over blocking by mobile phone companies
Presumably these companies are open to be sued for lost revenue when sites are affected by unjustified blocking
Report blocked websites at blocked.org.uk
Open Rights Group (ORG) are researching into the accuracy of the website blocking employed by mobile phone companies. The group wrote in its newsletter:
Last month, we asked ORG supporters to help us find sites
that were being blocked by the default Adult filter on their mobile phones. Lots of you replied and asked to get involved. And thanks to that extraordinary team - we've launched a tool to report what sites are being blocked and by whom.
We are getting regular reports and testing blocks on every mobile network. We're seeing just how bad mobile blocking is, and how bad the networks are at dealing with complaints. Forums and joke sites get banned. So do churches. Some
MPs want to extend default adult censorship to Internet at home as well: but we are already seeing how bad it is on mobile networks. ORG has already been invited to talk to O2 about their systems, as a result of this campaign.
Report blocked websites at blocked.org.uk
Meanwhile thank to a reader who wrote to MelonFarmers:
Just to let you know; the mobile network Three are blocking access to your site through their 3G networks - The site works fine on Wi-Fi, but on 3G you
get asked to contact Three to get a pin to unblock the site, as they have it listed as an Adult content site.
They charge 99p to allow access to adult sites (And it's not straightforward, takes a while to find
the right place to do it.).
They have also blocked Movie-Censorship.com, same reason as above.