My question relates to one Apple App Store guideline:

Referencing third-party platforms in your app or its metadata is not appropriate on the App Store.

I understand this to mean that it is prohibited to show any information about other platforms in the application. So, the developer is prohibited from mentioning such words as "Android, Windows, Linux, BlackBerry OS, Web OS" and many others.

I am developing a technology news application that aims to include news about other platforms on the market. Per this guideline I am allowed to show only Apple-related news in the app.

The app has been rejected.

How does this rejection relate to the freedom of speech and press, which is present in many countries' laws as a basic human right. Can it be considered as a censorship? Or if Apple owns the platform, it can dictate any rules and I have to obey them as a developer?

  • Did Apple explicitly reject the app for violating that guideline? – feetwet Jul 26 '15 at 15:54
  • Yes. They provided a screenshot, showing news with "MS Windows" word – Richard Topchii Aug 13 '15 at 20:16
  • Out of interest, did you appeal the decision? – Tom Gilder Aug 24 '15 at 13:39
  • Nope, I just implemented client-side (iOS only) content filtering. List of prohibited words is quite long and counts for more than 20. – Richard Topchii Oct 2 '15 at 22:30

Taking the US as an example, the Constitution states

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Congress or a state government hasn't prohibited you from comparing platforms. Another private entity has. And, that's fine. You're free to launch the app as a separate website, or print out the flyers and hand them to people on the bus, or publish your own monthly magazine comparing various platforms, so you still have freedom of speech and of the press.

As an example, if you write a letter about how great the government of North Korea is to the letters department at Stamp Collectors Magazine, and they don't publish it, have they violated your human rights?

The app store restriction may be quite dumb. After all, the built-in web browser allows the reading of the exact same news. But there's no law against being dumb.

  • Thank you for the answer, it clarified the case to me. I would like to ask you a question about using a WebView inside the app. There are two parts of the application, the native one and the Web one. It just shows web pages as a regular browser. Can I still mention other platforms in Web part? Or it is Apple-specific question and it is imposible to answer according to the law? – Richard Topchii Jul 24 '15 at 22:47
  • 1
    @RichardTopchiy: That's entirely up to Apple. This is a matter of their policy, not the law. – feetwet Jul 26 '15 at 16:00
  • Thanks for picking this up @feetwet, I've been away from computers for a few days. – dsolimano Jul 27 '15 at 11:53

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