inessential by Brent Simmons

Apple’s Judicial System

(Update Oct. 10: see Dash and Apple’s statement.)

Apple has a judicial system — that is, they have a system where they make judgments and enforce penalties. It’s not a criminal judicial system, and so the state and federal laws that govern that system don’t apply.

Apple is allowed to run this system however they want to. And we can’t see in, so we don’t know how it runs.

But we have learned — in the case of Dash — that one of the features of the system is that Apple may accuse a developer of fraud, not provide any evidence to the developer, and then remove that developer’s apps, with no appeal allowed.

While this is legal, and within Apple’s rights, it’s not what we’ve come to expect from a moral judicial system. No matter what the context, we expect that the accused see the evidence against them, we expect avenues for appeal to be made available, and we expect proportional penalties.

Otherwise, here’s what happens: if you’re well-known enough and have a good app, other people will raise a fuss on Twitter and on blogs and possibly in the press, and maybe something will happen. Maybe.

That sucks. That’s a middle-ages way of handling things.

Apple is allowed to run it that way, if they want to. Of course. They own it.

But any adult would expect the same basic morality that people accused of crimes get: that is, again, the right to see the evidence against them, an avenue of appeal, and proportional penalties.

In the meantime, it’s our job to presume innocence in the absence of evidence. This is also a moral issue, and it’s true even if you’ve never heard of the developer.