June 20, 2011 at 2:42 PM ET
About a month ago, a prostitution-friendly iPhone app designed by the folks behind dating service Sugar Sugar was the talk of the town. After all, the app's makers claimed that it had been granted Apple's seal of approval and would appear in the App Store on June 1.
It's nearly mid-month now and the app is still nowhere to be seen. What happened?
We made efforts to reach out to Sugar Sugar in order to get clarification as to what was going on, but we were simply brushed off and handed a link to a vague support page. There we read that the app was delayed due to "technical issues" of some sort:
We find it quite peculiar that the app was not only halted by mysterious technical issues after its makers claimed that it had been approved by Apple, but also that it basically appears to have received no promotion from Sugar Sugar since the first time it was mentioned in the news — at the beginning of May.
Could it be that Sugar Sugar was a bit too hasty to announce that its app was given approval to enter Apple's App Store, a place known for its strict guidelines and approval process? Either that, or Apple may have reversed its decision as a result of some of the backlash which ensued after Sugar Sugar's app gained notoriety in the news.
For those not entirely certain as to why this app is getting such a bad rep, it should be clarified that Sugar Sugar is not an ordinary dating service. Instead of putting together people who are simply seeking traditional relationships, it links up sugar daddies — wealthy men who are willing to shower young women with money, gifts, and other compensation in exchange for companionship — and their so-called sugar babies.
In more blunt terms: The service could help prostitutes and their clients connect.
It's that particular aspect which rubbed many individuals the wrong way. One of those individuals, Diane Adams of Lancaster, PA, choose to go as far as creating a petition asking Apple CEO Steve Jobs to reject the app. The online petition has received about 1,800 signatures and includes the following letter to reminds Jobs of the Apple guidelines which we listed in our initial post on the Sugar Sugar app:
Mr. Steve Jobs,
Beginning June 1st, Apple is planning to grant an app to SugarSugar [sic] in its App Store. SugarSugar is not an ordinary dating service, according to its web site. This new app makes it easier for men to use positions of power to prey on vulnerable young women and minors, using them to fulfil their desire for sex. It helps promote the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in our society today: human trafficking.
How did this app get approved by Apple? The company has strict guidelines that prevent such approvals, such as:
16.1 Apps that present excessively objectionable or crude content will be rejected.
18.1 Apps containing pornographic material, defined by Webster’s Dictionary as "explicit descriptions or displays of sexual organs of activities intended stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings," will be rejected
18.2 Apps that contain user generated content that is frequently pornographic (ex "Chat Roulette" apps) will be rejected.
22.1 Apps must comply with all legal requirements in any location where they are made available to users. It is the developer’s obligation to understand and conform to all local laws.
22.3 Aps that solicit, promote, or encourage criminal or clearly reckless behavior will be rejected.
Given that the SugarSugar app clearly violates these criteria by promoting prostitution, a criminal behavior which often includes the more heinous crime of human trafficking, Apple should, according to its own guidelines, have no choice but to immediately reject it.
Apple is known for its cutting-edge technology — not promotion of criminal activity. We strongly and repectfully urge Apple to retract its plan to allow SugarSugar to have an application for its products.
We're not sure if this petition, a more careful review of Sugar Sugar's app, initial overconfidence on Sugar Sugar's part, or genuine technical issues are delaying this particular app, but somehow we have a hunch that we won't see it in Apple's App Store anytime soon for any combination of those reasons.