Apple Withdraws 'Jew or Not Jew' Application in France

Anti-racism group says it is illegal in France to compile personal data without an individual's consent, according to a BBC report.

U.S. computer firm Apple has withdrawn a mobile phone application that allowed users to identify whether or not certain celebrities and public figures were Jewish, the BBC reported Thursday.

The "Jew or not Jew" application was removed from Apple's online store in France, after anti-racism group SOS Racisme complained, saying it is illegal in France to compile personal data without an individual's consent, the BBC reported.


Thirty-five-year-old developer Johann Levy, who is Jewish, said the application is in no way sinister, and instead described it as "recreational".

"I'm not a spokesman for all Jews, but as a Jew myself, I know that in our community we often ask whether such and such celebrity is Jewish or not," the BBC quoted Levy as saying.

"For me, there's nothing pejorative about saying that someone is Jewish or not," added the Franco-British engineer. "On the contrary, it's about being proud."

Levy said he used various online sources to gather information regarding 3,500 people to include in his application.

France outlawed the non-consensual gathering of information relating to a person's religious affiliation, according to the BBC. The law was enacted after World War II and is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of 300,000 euros ($417,000).

The application is still available outside of France, said the BBC.

In June, Apple removed an application called the "The Third Palestinian Intifada" from its online store for iPads and iPhones, following an Israeli request, according to the CNN.

Earlier that week the company had authorized the application, which updated users on upcoming protests, features articles critical of Israel and pictures of martyrs.

Yuli Edelstein, Minister of Public Affairs and the Diaspora, who successfully lobbied to remove a Facebook page of the same name, sent a letter to Apple founder Steve Jobs calling on Apple to carry out the "immediate removal" of the application, "and thus continue the tradition of Apple applications dedicated to purely entertainment and informative purposes and not serve as an instrument for incitement to violence."

"We removed this app from the App Store because it violates the developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people," an Apple spokesman was quoted in a statement.