Friday, January 27, 2017

Gabbing about the Capricious Cupertino Walled Garden of Apple

GAB CEO Andrew Torba on Apple App Vetting

Gab is a new micoblogging site which was started in the summer of 2016 as conservative voices experienced cyber-censorship about content from social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter.  Gab wants to create a cyber community which users can speak freely and exercise their own judgment to filter content. 

Gab started with a beta platform geared towards personal computers.  However, since the growth in social media is associated with mobile internet applications, Gab has sought to get approval from Apple to have their app approved to be available in Apple app store.

Because Gab encourages members to #SpeakFreely, they do not want to censor content created by Gab users, as long it conforms to US law and the Constitution regarding obscenity and pornography.  In rare instances, the Gab platform would allow for legal pornography as long as it was tagged #NSFW (not safe for work).  But this loophole created the first objection for the Apple App Review team.  To resolve this, Gab linked their EULA agreement, albeit outside of the app.  The allowed for the second rejection, which was easily abated. 

What has raised eyebrows is the tardy and hypocritical third rejection by the app team. Ordinarily, apps are evaluated within 24 hours.  For Gab's third app submission, it took 17 days. In addition, it was rejected on the grounds that "We found references to religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, or other targeted groups that could be offensive to many users."

So Gab is supposed to play nanny to user epithets and ideas which an aggrieved internet denizen could find offensive.  But Gab allows its users to filter out content which they do not want to see, but the powers that be in Cupertino do not want their i-Phone/i-Pad users to be scandalized by material in Gab (which they could filter out themselves).  

Is the same stringent Cupertino standard applied to Madonna's post Women's March musings?  

Wonder why?  Is Twitter going to have their app taken away for the rude ravings of an aged Material Girl who creates controversy on social media to seem contemporary?

Gab CEO Andrew Torba wonders if the third rejection of Gab's app was timed to coincide with President Trump's first full day in office and was meant to sent a message.  Torba asserted

"This clear double standard against us is potentially politically motivated and clearly targeted. When you actively search for something on a user generated website, chances are you're going to find what you are looking for."

Progressives sought to kill Gab by claiming that it was only for the alt-right and that it lacked diversity, which fails when one considers that Gabs leadership team is comprised of an American Christian, a Turkish Muslim Kurd and an Indian Hindu.  Since the slimming was unsuccessful, it seems that progressive companies are seeking to deny Gab from tools to grow their user base by any means necessary.

With the shadow-blocking and capricious shunnings by big social media, those who want to share opinions which challenge the standard assumptions of progressive elites, they may look to social media alternatives such as Gab.  Alas, Apple continues to make access restricted inside the walled garden

Monday, January 23, 2017

President Trump to Name Net Neutrality Critic Ajit Pai as FCC Chair

[N.B. This article was originally published February 10, 2015 on ]

Ajit Pai, a Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission, has become outspoken in his objections to the political imposition of Net Neutrality by what is supposed to be an independent Federal commission.

Commissioner Pai noted that: “It’s no wonder that net neutrality proponents are already bragging that it will turn the FCC into the “Department of the Internet. For that reason, if you like dealing with the IRS, you are going to love the President’s plan." 

Many progressives have rallied around the concept of Net Neutrality thinking that it is hurting corporations and encouraging competition.  What Commissioner Pai points out is that applying Title II regulation to the internet, which was designed for railroads and Ma Bell, will stifle competition and favor behemoth businesses because of the regulatory burdens.

Congressional critics such as Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) have likened Net Neutrality as being Obamacare for the Internet, regulations sold to lower prices and improve delivery but which in reality do the opposite while making Uncle Sam the undisputed middle man.

Another alarming feature of such broad regulation by the FCC is the relative obscurity in which the rules are being cobbled together.  President Obama pressured the FCC in November 2014 about Net Neutrality.  Chairman Tom Wheeler, who had been a big Obama fundraiser, is complying but promises to make some changes in Title II to make it better.  Oh, so a regulatory schemata which was drawn up in 14 can be tweaked to apply to the internet age.  Right. FCC Commissioner Mike O'Reilly warned the public about the dangers of forbearance as applied to Title II Common Carriers. 

There is the larger issue, however, about whether Congress ceded its legislative mantle to the FCC to strictly regulate the internet. If we hold fast to living in a constitutional democratic Republic, shouldn't our elected representatives, not bureaucrats who are unaccountable to the people (or for that matter Men in Black) be crafting such momentous law?

UPDATE 01/23/2017  President Trump is poised to name Ajit Pai as Chairman of the FCC, replacing Democrat activist FCC Chair Tom Wheeler.  Pai has been a critic of the Commission's impetus to impose net neutrality and thereby expand the FCC's role into regulating the Internet.