Editorial: App store owners should embrace freedom of expression

“With over 350,000 apps for iPhone there’s no limit to what you can do.”

Apple’s slogan for the most prolific cellphone to date may, at the surface, seem trivial, but as the applications for the iPhone — and now the iPad — infiltrate our lives we begin to wonder just what limits should be placed on the tech giant’s applications.

On March 23, Apple pulled an app created by Exodus International intended to “present a redemptive, biblical worldview on sexuality, which communicates a message of love and acceptance to those that are struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions,” according to a recent “myth-busting” release on the Exodus International website.

At its inception, the application was met with grave opposition from various groups, like the liberal Truth Wins Out, a nonprofit fighting religious extremism, that argues the app looked to “cure” homosexuals from their sexual preference — an idea Truth Wins Out and several pro-gay groups did not appreciate.

The ability to create applications for Apple’s store comes with the opportunity for crude, vulgar or offensive applications.

It also affords many the opportunities to capitalize on ingenuity and create highly efficient, successful and profitable applications.

An application must go through a rigorous process to be approved by Apple and sent to the App Store.

With that, it is clear that Apple originally found no problem with the Exodus International App and it was not until groups decried the app that Apple removed it. If this trend continues, the company will have stamped out minority voices.

For example, if an app was created that promoted the Mormon faith and a flood of complaints from atheists across the nation came in — would Apple remove the app simply because it wasn’t well-received by people that have no need for the app in the first place?

The Exodus International case seems confirm that the company would reject the minority’s app to please the majority that had no stake in using the app to begin with.

Only those that scream the loudest will get their way with Apple if this trend continues.

Amazon, another known Internet sales giant and emerging technological powerhouse, also has a vague and unclear policy.

“What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect,” reads the policy guidelines on the website.

The company, however, has flipped back and forth and been under scrutiny for silently removing from its Kindle store books deemed inappropriate by the company without any statement as to why.

App store owners, like Apple or Amazon, need to begin determining just how app stores will operate and what protocols inventors must follow.

Federal law should not be violated in any of the stores’ apps, but the company should at least consider if the controversial nature of an app is really cause for removal.

Everyone will not be pleased with an app.

If Apple made the applications platforms for inventors’ expression, it is merely giving consumers the opportunity to purchase — it is in no way making a purchase required.

The current system of “approve until complaints flood in” is not constructive or professional. It is wreaking havoc on the burgeoning technological shifts in society.

Apple’s tendency to answer the requests of loud protesters shuns the minority and places sole responsibility of every application on Apple. Amazon’s sneaky ways of removing e-books is unfair and confusing and its consumers deserve to know what the policies of the company actually are.

These companies have the right to run their companies in whatever manner they so choose, but why Apple has entangled itself within the expression of its app creators is uncertain.

These companies’ unclear policies need to be rectified and a shift to pro-expression policies would do the trick.