Why some apps are causing controversy - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Why some apps are causing controversy

Woodstock, Vermont - March 28, 2011

At Green Mountain Digital in Woodstock, employees are busy working on dozens of nature and wildlife apps for smart phones and computer tablets.

"The applications are really replacing the book form of what was a field guide," explained David Roberts, the CEO of Green Mountain Digital.

Since Apple first introduced Apps a few years ago, 10 billion have been sold. Experts say as many as 20 billion may be sold this year alone.

"So basically you don't need to be on the internet. You don't need to be connected like we are traditionally through a PC, you can just access information anytime, anywhere you are," Roberts said.

While apps can be informative, some worry about the kind of information they provide.

"The benefits are there, but some of the controversial aspects are starting to emerge as well," said Oliver Goodenough of the Vermont Law School.

One of those apps was an anti-gay one produced by a religious group. Apple agreed to sell it but pulled it after 150,000 people signed a petition against it.

"They were getting a lot of bad press that they didn't want," said John Becker of Truth Wins Out. "It's not about their speech; it's about Apple as a private company enforcing its own standards."

App vendors can accept and reject apps that they sell for a variety of reasons, including content and technical.

"The internet is an open environment. Once you get a web address you are able to put things up and be an open distribution system," Goodenough said. "These app stores maintain the ability to sell what we think is appropriate for us to sell, we don't have to sell anything we don't like."

New York Senator Chuck Schumer recently sent a letter to Apple, Blackberry and Android asking them to discontinue apps that alert drivers to speed traps and drunk driving checkpoints. Blackberry agreed to stop selling the app. The other companies are still debating what to do.

"One of the factors that is motivating these choices is the commercial appearance of the commercial service; commercial services typically avoid controversy," Goodenough said.

While hundreds of thousands of apps are now available, the self-regulation of the marketplace means consumers will see limits that do not apply to the World Wide Web.

Matt Henson - WCAX News

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