Update: At the moment, this ruling is still unofficial. A Brazilian prosecutor is pushing for the removal of these apps, but the judge has not officially ordered any action just yet. A source tells us that Secret has sent counsel to Brazil to investigate the situation, though we’ve been told this ruling would really be against Apple, Google, and Microsoft rather than the Secret app itself. Original story below:
A judge in Brazil has had it with the anonymous bullying carried out on social networking apps like Secret and has stepped in to put a stop to it, according to a report from Estadao [translation]. Judge Paulo Cesar de Carvalho has ruled that Apple and Google must delete the application from their respective app stores, but the ruling doesn’t stop there.
According to the report, the judge has demanded that both companies remotely delete the application from every device that has installed it in the country. While that might sound like a hilarious case of a judge not understanding how technology works, you may be surprised to learn that it’s actually a capability that both companies possess.
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Apple maintains a blacklist of apps on its own servers. iOS devices reach out to this server to check for any updates every once in a while and if it finds that an app installed on the device has been blacklisted, it refuses to launch that app. As far as anyone knows, Apple has never actually put this plan into effect. It’s not a fully foolproof system, either. Jailbreakers have been bypassing it as long as they’ve been hacking their devices.
Google, on the other hand, has used its remote kill-switch to delete a few potentially malicious apps in the past.
Whether the companies will actually comply with the judge’s demand has yet to be determined. If the application has not been deleted within ten days, they will be fined R$20,000 (a little under $8,900) each day.