Erotic photos: Apple iPhone snub

The newspaper Bild, which regulary features naked females on its front page, launched an iPhone application last month which allows paying customers to read a digital version of Bild the night before publication.

Bild has confirmed that it is whiting out “escort service” advertisements and soft porn to satisfy Apple’s terms of use. Some liberals accuse Apple of censorship, saying it has no right to stop offensive content if that content is legal in a print publication.

Michael Konken, chairman of a German journalists’ union, the DJV, said, “It’s interference in news reporting. That isn’t right.

You could call it censorship.” He said Apple was a mere conduit for data.

“The provider is like a truck that transports the content. It’s not allowed to dictate the content,” he said, echoing criticisms on some liberty-minded German blogs. He said it was up to the courts to decide if content was illegal.

Apple is reported to offer 100,000 apps, or software programs with a special purpose, for its iPhone. By using its own app, Bild can charge readers for content instead of publishing it online for free.

Helmut Heinen, president of the Federation of German Newspaper Publishers, said he too felt uncomfortable with the terms of use.

“Censorship is not the purpose of the platform provider, but as content sellers we worry it is the thin end of the wedge,” he said.

A spokesman for Apple Germany, Georg Albrecht, said the company banned apps with content that was pornographic, illegal or in breach of privacy. But he said Apple was not making the precise guidelines public.

Bild confirmed it was deciding itself which pictures and advertisements to white out, given that the content could also be seen abroad.

Deputy editor Michael Paustian said, “On the one hand, our rules follow Apple’s terms, and on the other they follow common sense and our sense of which nude pictures might be offensive in other nations and other cultures.”

Paustian said Bild was only toning down erotic content, not news.

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Erotic photos: Apple iPhone snub