iPorn: Who controls the content on your phone?

Steve Jobs has been getting a lot of flak lately for his decision to keep porn off the iPhone. In April, he said Apple was staying away from that:

So where should you go to get naked people on mobile phones? The Android. “Folks who want porn can buy and [sic] Android phone,” says Jobs.

The message echoes an answer Steve Jobs gave to a similar question at the iPhone OS 4.0 debut.

He pointed out that Google’s far more lenient content restrictions means the Android marketplace has adult content, or as Jobs put it: “You know, there’s a porn store for Android. You can download nothing but porn.”

“That’s a place we don’t want to go,” Jobs said “so we’re not going to go there.”

What irks people about Jobs’s decision is that they believe a tech gadget like the iPhone should be completely at the disposal of the consumer when it comes to content — any restrictions should be the consumer’s responsibility and not the Apple company. In other words, if you want to block porn from your iPhone, get an app for that.

It’s not the first time Jobs and Apple have been criticized for being morality cops. Back in April, Wired ran a story about editorial cartoonist and Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Fiore being denied an app for the iPhone because “lampooning public figures violated [Apple’s] terms of service.” (Fiore has since been asked to re-submit his app to Apple.)

The same article reported that Fiore’s rejection came on the heels of Apple’s decision to “purge its App Store of content that included nudity, a retroactive ban that included apps from respected German publications such as Bild and Der Spiegel.”

Wired writer Ryan Singel concluded:

… the publishing world is now officially on notice that the iPad is Apple’s, and unlike with their print and web editions, they don’t have the final say when it comes to their own content on an Apple device.

One interesting thing to note is that most of this criticism has been aired in tech publications and blogs; few in the mainstream press have picked up on the story. Maybe because, like me, they’re all using Apple products?

Anyway, Jobs and Apple do seem to make it their business to decide what unsigned apps they will and will not allow, not to mention what they allow in their Apps Store. Is it their prerogative? Is it censorship at its worst? If you approve, where do you think lines should be drawn? 


Zoe Romanowsky


Zoe Romanowsky is writer, consultant, and coach. Her articles have appeared in "Catholic Digest," "Faith & Family," "National Catholic Register," "Our Sunday Visitor," "Urbanite," "Baltimore Eats," and Godspy.com. Zo

Crisis Magazine Comments Policy

This is a Catholic forum. As such:

  1. All comments must directly address the article. “I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter.” (Matthew 12:36)
  2. No profanity, ad hominems, hot tempers, or racial or religious invectives. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
  3. We will not tolerate heresy, calumny, or attacks upon our Holy Mother Church or Holy Father. “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
  4. Keep it brief. No lengthy rants, urls, or block quotes. “For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)
  5. If you see a comment that doesn’t meet our standards, please flag it so a moderator may remove it. “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” (Galatians 6:1)
  6. All comments may be removed at the moderators’ discretion. “But of that day and hour no one knows…” (Matthew 24:36)
  7. Crisis isn’t responsible for the content of the comments box. Comments do not represent the views of Crisis magazine, its editors, authors, or publishers. “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God… So each of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:10, 12)