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Finding Sex Offenders on i-Phone

July 27, 2009

Tech.blorge.com : Sex offender locator app hits the iPhone – vigilantes celebrate.

UPDATE AUG.10,2009-
This horrible app is back again.
brainstormtech.blogs.fortune.cnn.com : It simply removed California’s data from the for-profit version.
By Sunday, Offender Locator was back on the iPhone App Store

UPDATE AUG.6, 2009-
Appmodo.com : Apple pulls popular Sex Offender app from store

Apple has pulled another popular app from its App Store. The app that had consistently held its own on the top 10 paid apps for weeks, is now completely gone. “This app is not legal, at least under CA law. Selling the personal information of people (even ex-criminals) for profit is forbidden.”
So why did this app get accepted in the first place?
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Strangely, the (we will not name this app) costs $0.99 to purchase, even though the information is includes is all freely available on the Web already. But that hasn’t stopped the app from making its way into the top 10 paid iPhone apps.

This obviously raises some serious questions as to the nature of this app. Firstly, is it right for a company to be making money from selling personal information? This is legally questionable in some states, and morally questionable in all right-thinking states.

Then there’s the bigger question as to whether having this kind of personal information being made available on an iPhone app is right or wrong. Not all registered sex offenders are pedophiles or rapists, with some having been charged with much more minor offenses. But this app doesn’t differentiate between the levels of crime committed, instead lumping everyone in together.

Then there’s the obvious risk of mistakes and misinformation leaking into the system. Which is really not ideal when there are people all too willing to become bloodthirsty vigilantes if they even suspect someone dodgy is living amongst them.

The (we will not name this app) has trouble written all over it, both legally and morally. Yes, these people are criminals, but if they’ve done their time shouldn’t they have some protection from being ridiculed, shunned, and even hurt by people with a vendetta to carry out? An iPhone app hardly seems the appropriate medium to share this kind of sensitive information.

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