updated 07:30 am EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Apple, Google, Microsoft required to delete Secret from customer phones or face fines
A Brazilian judge has ordered Apple, Google, and Microsoft to remove Secret, an app used for anonymously sharing information with others, from citizen's phones. The unusual ruling requires both Apple and Google to delist Secret from the App Store and Google Play, with Microsoft ordered to do the same for the Windows Phone-equivalent Cryptic, as well as deleting it remotely from mobile devices in the country.
The three companies have just ten days to obey the order, reports Link, with Apple Insider adding that they each face fines of 20,000 Real (approximately $8,860) for every day the app remains usable after the deadline. While it is likely the ruling relates just to smartphones and tablets bought within Brazil's borders, it is uncertain whether or not it applies to devices temporarily brought in by tourists.
The order by Judge Paulo Cesar de Carvalho of the Fifth Civil Court of Victoria relates to a proposal from public prosecutor Marcelo Zenker to ban such apps outright, claiming the country's constitution does not allow the anonymous freedom of speech.
Examples of typical posts shared on Secret
Zenker points to the use of the platform by individuals for malicious reasons, including the case of a student being tormented by rumors spread through Secret by other students, as well as a civil action where a marketing consultant found nude images on the service, overlaid with text about him being HIV positive and engaging in orgies. Aside from the bullying aspect, Zenker claims content takedown requests are difficult, slow, and expensive to perform, citing the service's location outside the country and the requirement for the removal request to be completed in English.
All three mobile operating systems have some form of built-in app removal system, with Apple using a blacklisting technique by revoking an app's certificate. Generally speaking, the companies involved are loath to use the option unless it is extremely necessary, preferring instead to remove listings from the app store instead of intruding on customer devices. It is likely the court will receive some pushback from the platform owners before its order is granted.