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German Publishers Want Censorship Talks With Apple 197

Posted by kdawson
from the define-"press" dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The association of German magazine publishers has sent a letter to Steve Jobs (Google translation; German original here) demanding talks about censorship by Apple. The move draws attention to growing concerns about freedom of the press when a single unelected commercial entity has worldwide control over what gets published for the iPhone and, especially, the iPad." While the magazine publishers may rightly be concerned about private control of a platform that many of them are counting on for their long-term salvation, the German state is at the very least ambivalent about the subject of censorship. This is the country that has banned Wikileaks, sought a ban on violent games, and voted to censor child porn (only to have the president kill the ban as unconstituitonal).
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German Publishers Want Censorship Talks With Apple

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  • The internet (Score:5, Informative)

    by thenextstevejobs (1586847) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @03:27PM (#32399854)
    I'd like to posit that Apple doesn't have complete control over what content is available for the iPhone/iPad, because it has a web browser.

    Still, I'd be happy to see an alternative to the App Store or some compromise on their approval process.
  • Different morals (Score:5, Informative)

    by cheesybagel (670288) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @03:34PM (#32399906)
    Germans usually tolerate porn and other adult content more than in the US. In contrast vandalism, violence, nazism, or other cultist movements are censored in Germany.
  • by jjoelc (1589361) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @03:37PM (#32399942)

    Build a better website, and you won't need an iPhone app.

  • Not exactly (Score:3, Informative)

    by AffidavitDonda (1736752) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @04:06PM (#32400192)
    You can publish nearly everything, but in some cases you will have to accept that shops can only sell it to adults. So most game companies decide to remove some of the more violent scenes for easier publishing and a larger amount of potential customers. So I wouldn't call it exactly "censorship". (But this may be a matter of definition)
  • by AffidavitDonda (1736752) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @04:09PM (#32400224)
    Just checked that out, I have no problems to access Wikileaks here in Germany. actual headline: "... could become as important a journalistic tool as the Freedom of Information Act. — Time Magazine
  • by Menchi (677927) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @04:14PM (#32400262)

    This is the country that has banned Wikileaks

    Except they didn't. wikileaks.de was disabled because the guy who own this domain (and nothing else related to wikileaks) didn't pay his bills. He was also involved in some fraud so his ISP didn't want to do business with him any more. They informed him 3 or 4 month before killing his account, he just forgot about it.

    sought a ban on violent games

    Good thing the word sought is there. The conservative hardliners have been talking about it for 20 years now and so far not much has happened. Preemptive censorship by the publishers is far worse.

    and voted to censor child porn (only to have the president kill the ban as unconstituitonal).

    Except he didn't, he signed this law. It's just that everybody (including half the people who voted for it) hoped he wouldn't because a few month after this law was voted on the pirate party gained 2% in the federal election (5% is the minimum to get seats, which they did get in some regions). The last thing any of the established parties want is yet another party to worry about so internet topics suddenly because important. The ministry of justice has instructed the police to treat this law as the most unimportant one of all (i.e. not enforce it) and the parliament is actively working on replacing it with a law that does not allow filtering. All in all, awesome summary.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 30, 2010 @04:40PM (#32400432)

    Wikileaks was bannend because they published lists of child pornography. They did this in order to demonstrate that most child pornography cencore lists are misused to ban harmless sites. In fact, in germany you can get a house search just for knowing, that there ist child pornography somewhere in the world. But Wikileaks isn't banned anymore.

  • by w4rl5ck (531459) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @05:05PM (#32400666) Homepage

    Well yes, we *have* problems with censorship and freedom in germany (as probably any other country has these days), but this summary is so wrong it hurts really bad...

    As mentioned in comments before:

    - the internet censorship stuff has not been banned by President Köhler, he just did not sign immediately. He did later, but after an election and a shift in government partys, the law has been stopped by the new government

    - the "violent video" thing has been discussed by many hardliners, but there never has been a broad support for that

    - wikileaks was not "banned" or anything. The stupid domain owners just did not take the proper steps to keep the domain

    So, one will find other, definitely even worse crimes against humanity in Germany, but this list is, well... sort of "outdated and overcome".

    Oh, and on topic: the publishers have some valid points here, and we might see some regulations for Apple in Germany. Porn is not illegal here, mind you ;)

    The iPad is l33t, anyway.

  • by Shoe Puppet (1557239) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @05:07PM (#32400698)

    Is it censorship? In the broadest sense, yes. But do I want the federal gov't meddling with this? Any federal gov't? It sets a scary precedent.

    I don't see the problem. It's not like it were about letting the government censor instead of apple, it's about exactly the opposite: The government preventing censorship, for a change.

  • Re:Different morals (Score:3, Informative)

    by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Sunday May 30, 2010 @05:45PM (#32401014) Homepage

    Violent video games can be rated, indexed and completly banned in Germany. When they just get rated, an 18+ sticker gets onto the box and sales to minors is forbidden (somewhat similar to M rating). When they get indexed, it is also forbidden to do advertisment or public sales of those games (i.e. no more buying them at amazon.de), you are still allowed in theory to purcase them under the counter, in practice however Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo won't even publish those games in Germany, so you have to import them (similar to the effects of AO rating). The last stage is completly banning a game, it doesn't happen often, but it does happen (i.e. Dead Rising), then even the sale is forbidden.

    Another difference is that the rating system is enforced by the state, while in the US its just the cooperation that do the enforcement of ESRB stuff.

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