Italy seeks removal of 'defamatory' iPhone app

Italy's tourism minister says the 'What Country' application reinforces stereotypes about the Mafia

Italy's tourism minister, Michela Brambilla, has instructed the official state lawyer to seek the removal from sale of a "defamatory" iPhone application and to take legal action against the app's maker.

The "What Country" application, produced by Apalon, a division of MoveYourWeb, provides immediately recognizable national stereotypes to accompany users' tourist photos in a photographic album. The application, which works with iPhones, the iPod Touch and iPads, is available from the Apple App Store.

The app associates Italy with pizzas, scooters and the Mafia, and it is the latter connection that has enraged many Italians.

"It's an offensive and unacceptable representation, what's more, accompanied by an explanatory text that, if possible, makes things even worse," Brambilla said in a statement announcing her call for legal action to protect Italy's international image.

The incriminated text reads in part: "The Mafia in Italy is large. No surprise. It's known as Cosa Nostra ... The Mafia in Italy constitutes a formidable economic power, which accounts for 10 percent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product)."

Italy is a beacon for the world, because of its history, culture and style, Brambilla insisted. "As a citizen and as a minister, I cannot allow our country to be discredited by using a criminal organization as our testimonial," she said.

The minister's protest follows recent criticism in Italy of the Julia Roberts film "Eat, Pray, Love" -- where the "eat" part applies to Italy -- as reinforcing unflattering stereotypes about the Mediterranean peninsula.

Apalon Vice President Peter Melnikov said that the app is not meant to be a straight travel guide.

"The app is based on interactive map featuring funny stereotypes about particular countries," Melnikov said in an e-mail response to a query. "We are following comments on Italian sites and see that lots of people understand that those stereotypes in question associated with Italy were not invented by us. In the end of the day we hope users will understand satire and respect freedom of speech."

Some Italian commentators appear to agree.

The "What Country" app "employs much overused concepts, but with a deliberately ironic and satirical approach," Claudio Tamburrino commented in the online magazine punto-informatico. "But it will be difficult to

prove a denigratory intention, and the question of jurisdiction is also complex, given the transnational nature of the mobile marketplace."

Apalon does not appear to have a particular devotion to good taste. The company's website says another of its applications, "Drunk Sniper," "is turning iPhone or iPod Touch into male body organ which can be realistically manipulated by the user while relieving themselves of a couple of beers."

Apple was not immediately available for comment.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags ApalonAppleapplicationsCivil lawsuitslegalsoftwaremobilegovernment

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Philip Willan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?