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

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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

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