The federal government wants Apple to remove apps that promote violence, drugs and sexual content from the app store, a move that could have a chilling effect on innovation.
In a letter to Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook, the Department of Justice asked the tech giant to remove “disrupting apps that are intended to disrupt or otherwise disrupt the business of companies engaged in business operations” in which users “are directly or indirectly subject to threats of harm, injury or death.”
Apple declined to comment.
The DOJ wants Apple, Google and other app developers to comply with the guidelines by making apps “clearly distinguishable from similar apps in terms of their content, and to ensure that the terms and conditions of such apps are clear and conspicuously disclosed to consumers.”
It says that, in addition, the apps must comply with existing safety measures, such as blocking access to any material that violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Federal Trade Commission said.
The FTC says apps can be removed if they “are deemed to promote, promote, propagate or otherwise disseminate child pornography or a sexually explicit image or material that constitutes an invasion of privacy or is likely to incite or otherwise influence an act of terrorism.”
Apps should also make it clear that the content is protected by copyright, the FTC said.
The letter comes after two high-profile apps that the government has targeted were pulled from the Apple App Store.
Last year, the government blocked the release of a music app called “Shit I Did” that was marketed to users of the dating app Tinder.
And in January, a judge blocked a separate Tinder app called Dating Stories, which was marketed in the United Kingdom as a dating app.
The apps were taken down by the app makers.