Business, Finance & Economics

Apple pulls "Jew or Not Jew" app in France

Apple has removed an application called "Jew or Not Jew" from its online stores in France.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the app tells users whether a politician or celebrity is Jewish.

Several social and Jewish groups had urged Apple to withdraw the application, saying it breaches French laws that ban disclosing people's religion without their consent as well as compiling data about people's religions. Groups that objected to the app included a council representing French Jewish institutions known as Crif, France's Jewish student union, and an anti-racism group called SOS Racisme.

The app debuted in early August, and is still available for sale in Apple's app stores outside France, including in the United States.

The app's designer, a Franco-British software engineer named Johann Lévy, said he did not intend to offend anyone. Lévy, who said he is Jewish himself, told The Wall Street Journal his app's purpose is "recreational."

"I often ask myself whether this or that celebrity is Jewish or not," Lévy told the paper. "I believe that it's a question that many Jews ask themselves too."

But Richard Prasquier, president of Crif, suggested it did not matter what Lévy's intent was.

"The fact is that this [app] could be used by others, whose intentions are not as good," he said. "It is unacceptable and stigmatizes the Jewish people."

According to the Associated Press, under the French penal code "stocking personal details including race, sexuality, political leanings or religious affiliation is punishable by five-year prison sentences and fines of up to €300,000 ($411,870)."

"Jew or Not Jew" is available at the U.S. app store for $1.99. The latest feature allows users to search for Jews "by movie." From the app's description:

This feature lets you search for a movie (e.g. Pulp Fiction, Toy Story...) and shows you all the Jewish actors, directors, producers etc... that were involved in the movie!