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The Lazy Security Patrolling Apple's Shopping Mall

Illustration for article titled The Lazy Security Patrolling Apples Shopping Mall

This past weekend, readers alerted us to an absolutely contemptible ripoff on the iTunes App Store. Someone had submitted a straight-up copy of the Canabalt flash game, called it Canabalt HD—which doesn't exist on the iOS. Once again, some unscrupulous dick managed to slide Adam Saltsman's game past Apple's mall security. The fact it happened on Memorial Day weekend in the States, when a takedown might take longer to enact, stunk of a deliberate scam.

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The bogus app was later removed, but probably only because readers like you and sites like ours spotted the outrage and gave it enough publicity that some pencil-pusher in Cupertino finally noticed. We—meaning readers, gamers and the speciality press—seem to be the only ones who give enough of a damn to police this stuff. Apple sure as hell doesn't. Why would it? That doesn't make them any money.

Apple seems to care only that there isn't porn in an app. That, we are clear on. Because I have to wonder how someone whose job is to evaluate the content of a video game wouldn't know that someone other than Valve Corporation submitting a game titled Counter Strike—which turned out to be nothing like the game depicted in its screenshots—is a thief. It's an extremely ironic commentary on Mac gaming's obliviousness and naiveté that Apple would be so unaware of a bedrock PC title.

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But that may not even factor into it. My only guess is that their bureaucracy goes into the game, looks for boobs, sees none and rubber stamps it. Only it's not just boobs that'll get you quarantined at iTunes' absurd Ellis Island, which seems designed to deliver us as much wretched refuse as possible.

The game Childhood's End, an actual game made by an actual developer who wasn't actually stealing someone else's work, was held up not because of porn. It wasn't held up because it actually had a depiction of Pedobear in it. It's because its bear character reminded someone of Pedobear. Apple panicked and forced the developer to re-illustrate the bear character. How the game could have served as a potential "recruiting tool for pedophiles," a patently ridiculous fear, was unexplained.

That's what Apple is interested in: soothing the fears of hypersensitive idiots. Not the fact it is a pass-through for actual dishonest behavior.

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Why should you care, beyond the fact that Apple's stupid implementations of short-sighted, opaque policies deeply insults the customer's intelligence? Because while the volume of apps and games, good and bad, derivative, infringing, stolen or original, all make Apple a hell of a lot of money in the 30 percent they get from each sale, it creates a perilous environment for both consumer and honest developer.

Neither are given any protection from dishonest sellers using Apple's infrastructure. And I don't buy logic that suggests Apple's wonderful democratizing of application publishing somehow makes this kind of exploitive dishonesty acceptable.

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Hey folks, Something Negative is a rant. Love it or hate it, we all need to blow off steam on Fridays. Let yours out in the comments.

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DISCUSSION

I have to disagree here... The review process is mainly for making sure the apps don't use any restricted APIs and to check for any vulnerabilities and information theft. The whole thing on what they consider "obejectional content" is a secondary function of the process. Sure some of the stuff they do with that regard gets a little ridiculous, but they are really just trying to keep soccor moms and advocacy groups and the like out of their hair, something the core gaming indusrty has failed to achieve. More importantly, how on earth can someone suggest they these people become aware of every bit of content on the web? I mean it's a flash game. However good it is and however popular it manages to become doesn't mean there isn't still millions of flash games on the web. I think that's absurd to expect. All it takes is to tell Apple so and provide proof and the problem is solved. This article almost sounds like it's making the case for stuff like copyright legislation, where companies like google are penalized for what users post in YouTube. Imagine how long it would take any app on the store to get cleared if the reviewers had to scour the far reaches if the web to find something that resembles the game someone is trying to submit. And that still wouldn't catch all of them. I'm of the mind that we treat people like people until we find a reason to do so otherwise, rather than to treat all people like criminals because some of them just might be.