Apple to Ekstra Bladet: remove page 9 topless girl or no iPad for you

Posted by & filed under Politics, Technology.

Oh those Danes and their liberal tastes. Newspaper Ekstra Bladet has been just a bit naughty for the past 35 years. Every issue of the newspaper contains a photo of a topless girl on page 9. And this little ray of sunshine in gloomy daily routine was fine, until Ekstra Bladet decided to make an iPad app. For you see, from Apple’s censor’s point of view that pretty page 9 lady is an “offensive content” and needs to be removed. Or their app will never see the screen of iPad ever again.

Ekstra Bladet editor Poul Madsen says: “I think it’s madness. [Photo of the lady] is not pornographic or offensive in any way… Page 9-girl is a part of Ekstra Bladet soul”. So, Apple’s demands are either pure censorship or even worse, forces distortion of materials published on iPad. Neither one is acceptable and EB editor promised to go to the European Court to fight this “backdoor censorship”. Apparently Apple ignored all their questions about why do they claim that traditional photo is offensive, up until the words “lawsuit” and “court” were mentioned.

Some people (including School of Journalism’s rector Anne Marie Dohm) don’t see it as an attack on freedom of press, as this photo has nothing to do with actual news reporting. But Ekstra Bladet points out that Appstore has other applications for iPad that indeed do have naked ladies in them — German tabloid Bild as well as UK’s Sun do have exposed girls.

I’m not sure that exposing that will really count as “double standard” of Steve Jobs though, just that censorship is not very efficient at examining every single page. Though I’m okay with either Ekstra Bladet getting an OK to electronically print a topless beauty or Bild and Sun getting theirs ripped off too.

Frankly, Apple should add “may contain adult content” tag to the Apps and be done with it. This “let’s clean our application store from naked skin” crusade is getting tiresome.

5 Responses to “Apple to Ekstra Bladet: remove page 9 topless girl or no iPad for you”

  1. Chanson de Roland

    There is, I believe, no double standard. Ekstra Bladet (EB) neglects to mention, which may be an example of the quality of its journalism, that both the Sun and Bild apps are paid apps. That means that Apple can be fairly certain that the person viewing those apps is either an adult or a minor with an adult’s permission to view erotic content, because to see a paid apps requires an Apple account and a credit card. My understanding is that EB wants to put its Page 9 girls in a free app, which would available to all users of Apple’s App Store, both minors and adults, without an adult being in a position to say no to a minor viewing EB’s erotic content.

    Also, the erotic content of EB’s online newspaper is quiet explicit, with at least one instance of a completely nude couple apparently having sex. It is hard to imagine the EU Court mandating that Apple make such explicit erotic content freely available to minors, especially when EB can either offer its erotic content on the App Store as a paid app or provide a web link in a free app, where a user can use a browser to go to the Web and find view whatever erotic content that may found on the Web, including EB’s Page 9.

    EB should do what others have done to get erotic content on the App Store, that is, either put that content in a paid app or provide a link where that content can be located on the Web, unless EB has the ulterior motive of trying to force Apple to adopt its view of what erotic content should be permitted on Apple’s App Store.

    • Max Smolev

      How frequently do they replace 9-th page girl with something more explicit? I run into EB once in a while but I don’t have enough data to just brand them as porn-paper at this time.

      I’m not quite sure if just being a paid app or a free app should make any difference. After all, there is a history of Apple removing paid apps for having adult content as well, and Steve Jobs seemed to be proud to be the prudish electronic garden of Eden where smut is not allowed, while criticizing Android as being “too liberal with adult content”.

      Given that user can always pay with a gift certificate, there’s no “proof” of age in user’s ability to pay. Look at cable boxes, that put adult movies on pay-per-view and still have a pin code lock based on content rating.

      I would be okay with an “adult content” tag and/or category, allowing iTunes to enforce parental lock. As long as so whoever shops for apps is warned, that’s sufficient. And while I object to censorship of anything that has a nipple in it (Apple is becoming a major content distributor) I understand it is their right, but they should be consistent about it.

      I am very interested to see how EU court reacts to EB’s filing. Though there’s probably a good chance of some sort of compromise happening before then — precedent would be bad for Apple.


Leave a Reply