Apple is taking heat over a controversial app that helps create fake IDs, as criticism mounts over the approval process of its App Store.
Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) wrote an open letter to Apple asking Tim Cook, the company’s CEO, to remove the “License” app from the Apple App Store.
“License” allows users to insert photos and create fake drivers’ licenses for any state. Casey calls this a “threat to national security,” and says if users print out fake licenses and laminate them, they could be used for “any number of illegal and fraudulent activities,” including identity theft.
Apple’s App Store is renowned for its security practices, as each app goes through a rigorous screening process before being offered to consumers. Generally, Apple users experience fewer instances of malware attacks due to this screening system, while Android Market customers may face more hacks due to the company’s open market, since apps are not screened by Google prior to sale.
But Apple’s secure marketplace also means that the decision to offer an app is solely at the company’s discretion, and when an inappropriate app appears in the store, it opens the company up to criticism.
Brian Zimmer, president of the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License, blasted Apple, saying the company “should have had measures in place to prevent the ‘License’ application from ever making it to the app store.”
Zimmer claims he notified Apple of the app’s dangers in April, and said the company’s “lack of action” was “dismaying” and that “Apple should establish a careful policy of reviewing applications for the App Store that might lead to a child’s injury through inappropriate use.”
Apple banned several other apps deemed offensive or suspicious at the request of law enforcement, politicians, and human rights groups. For example, earlier this year, both Google and Apple removed apps that helped users find and avoid DUI checkpoints.
Perhaps hoping for the same result, Casey is asking Apple to “remove this application from the App Store immediately, as well as any other available applications that allow users to create, steal or alter false identities.”
Apple’s practice of removing potentially harmful apps shows good faith on the company’s part, but because apps appear in the App Store at Apple’s discretion, the heat falls on the company when content is deemed inappropriate.
Apple has not yet responded to Casey or Zimmer.
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