Apple reaffirms its promise to protect us from Porn

Discussion in 'Apple' started by Sam Posten, May 15, 2010.

  1. nolesrule

    nolesrule Producer

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    OK. I see what you mean. That's a pretty broad solution though. And that would make the device all but useless for even safe apps which communicate using network protocols and even parental use of location tracking ("phones home" using a network stream, even if it gets its info via GPS) outside of the controlled LAN.


    But then what would be the point of having an expensive connected device if it loses its functionality once you leave the house? You could get a regular cell phone and an mp3 player for much cheaper and accomplish the same thing.
     
  2. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    There is no cell phone + MP3 player that does what an iPod Touch or iPad does, especially for an 11 yr old. And that's what I'm talking about: I don't need this for myself. I'm imagining the parent that wants to get their kid the top-selling, top-rated, best gadget in the world but doesn't want to give them unfettered 'net access. Such controls on these devices could help the concerned parent.


    I wouldn't really expect these, but Jobs' repeated attacks on "porn" suggest he's specifically concerned about it and could provide broader tools than merely banning such content from the appStore -- a half measure at best.
     
  3. nolesrule

    nolesrule Producer

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    I understand that there is no cell phone + mp3 player that does what the iJunk does. My point was that your solution neuters all apps that need internet access, so as a parent why bother spending the money on the iJunk at all when you could accomplish the same goal of a neutered device and spend much less money.


    It's an all or nothing approach and in the end those don't work because people always need exceptions to the rules. But if you give it the ability to have exceptions, then you start wasting time managing what should and shouldn't get access to what networks on an individual basis. And then you turn mom and dad into the IT department. And when you rely on 3rd parties to be your net nanny, you end up not being able to access CNNSI.com because someone considers the swimsuit issue content as porn.


    That's why Sam and I are saying there is no good way to solve the "protect the children" issue.


    This issue is inherent in all of these types of devices. Not just the iJunk.
     
  4. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Cinematographer

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    I'd like to step away from the philosophical and toward the practical implications of Apple banning "porno" apps.


    On the one hand it does nothing to stop actual porn -- if someone wanted dirty video/pictures, they could load/view them on their iPad/iPhone without any trouble whatever, from endless sources. Indeed if anyone wants to look at smut* I completely fail to understand why they'd want Apps -- good old fashioned video is a much more suitable vessel for the subject at hand.


    On the other hand Apple's policy can have terrible consequences for racy yet non-pornographic magazines, newspapers, books, graphic novels etc. As it seems the current distribution mode for magazines and comics is as individual apps, a broad range of them could be stopped or bowdlerized to get accepted by Apple. Indeed there is evidence of that already happening with fashion magazines. This is an unmitigated disaster because numerous European *news* magazines and newspapers routinely feature nudity and other provocative stuff. They will have the choice of self-censoring or staying off the iPad altogether to potentially disastrous consequences if the iPad becomes the premier media consumption device.

    The iBooks store is also suspect and a potential disaster area. Example: D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover is nowhere to be found, even though it is readily available through gutenberg.org whose content the iBooks Store otherwise supports. I view this as absolutely horrible. As a longterm admirer of Apple and Steve Jobs, I really don't want him turning into this era's Anthony Comstock.

    The correct, and practical approach is to do what Amazon does: keep out the obvious "I know it when I see it porn" and allow absolutely everything else. I fail to detect any sort of adverse consequences for Amazon resulting from this policy.


    *I encourage everyone posting in this thread to listen to Tom Lehrer's song "Smut" -- it gives proper perspective. And it is readily available on iTunes...
     
  5. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Bits is bits.
     
  6. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

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    The impact on traditional books is mitigated somewhat by the Kindle application for iPad. Books censored by iBooks might be available through other channels such as amazon/kindle.


    - Walter.
     
  7. nolesrule

    nolesrule Producer

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    I think this is the heart of the anti-iDevice arguments and is why I don't purchase Apple products.


    Furthermore, the guidelines and approval process are closed and arbitrary, and restrictions go beyond just porn restrictions and its effect on borderline racy materials. We've already seen it with apps having to do with political satire or even what languages apps are developed in (an arbitrary restriction put in place to keep Adobe Flash off the device put has a much farther reaching effect).


    The long-term effect with proliferation of alternative devices with open app stores will likely be that iDevices will become the secondary consumption platform target for developers, and instead of getting apps before other OSes, they'll get them second to mitigate the risk that being rejected by Apple would put them out of business.
     
  8. nolesrule

    nolesrule Producer

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    Interesting. But what if that book is deemed indecent by Apple and that's why it is not in the iBooks store? Then wouldn't that mean Amazon was in violation of the app developer agreement for providing indecent content? And if so, wouldn't that mean Amazon receives preferential treatment that an ordinary developer wouldn't have?
     
  9. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

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    I believe that Apple has made policy exceptions for certain suppliers such as Sport Illustrated and their swimsuit issue - as one example, so there is some precedent for this. A google search for 'Apple Sports Illustrated' will return some hits on this topic.


    - Walter.
     
  10. nolesrule

    nolesrule Producer

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    Just something else for the DOJ to ask about as part of their inquiry I guess.
     
  11. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Cinematographer

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    Quote:

    Kindle purchases are not made through the Kindle app, thus Apple's policy has no effect whatsoever on the Kindle or other eBook readers.

    Also, the end user can load any .epub file themselves via iTunes. In practice today, that means any public domain book available online (through Gutenberg, Google, etc.) If the book industry ever goes DRM free like the music industry did, the it will mean all copyrighted books itself.


    For magazines, what is needed is an "iMagazine" app, where the content is separate from the app -- much like iBooks. Instead the current paradigm is the Time magazine one, where each issue is its own app.
     
  12. nolesrule

    nolesrule Producer

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    Thanks for the clarification on that Ted. I've only played with the Kindle program for PC so far and only downloaded a couple of freebies, so wasn't really sure.
     
  13. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    You're taking an extreme all-or-nothing perspective that's not required by my meager suggestion. There is no device that approaches the iDevices, even with its data access disabled. But to my notion: I'm not suggesting you give junior an iDevice with the net access permanently disabled. IT can be fully enabled at home, and grandma's. And at Starbucks when dad's taking them for hot chocolate. But limited elsewhere, at school, at the playground, etc. But it's not like it stops working: telephone calls still work; single-player games work; drawing, music, etc. apps still work. GPS still works.


    And yes, I see this as a possible feature for all portable devices.


    This is why it's such an interesting issue: previously there was no web, and kids could have their own computer in their own room (that's my childhood). Then there was the web, and parents had to keep computers in the common rooms -- no longer in the kids' rooms -- to monitor access. But some net-nanny tools made life easier for some parents. But now, there is a whole class of cheap, increasingly ubiquitous toys that every kid wants, and that completely circumvents the parents tool-based control. You can argue that parents should just let their kids discover and deal with the marvels and dangers of the 'net without a safety net. That's fine: you can raise your kids that way. But I know parents who want tools to help. Are there enough to make it financially worthwhile? Is it technologically possible? I don't know.
     
  14. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    The practical implications are those I noted previously: Apple's brand is not associated with, or tainted by, porn.
     
  15. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    And it will take an outrageous event like I described to 'fix' that.
     
  16. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I missed your "outrageous event" -- what did you hypothesize?


    The other practical aspect is that it provides a clear discriminator between the iPhone and all other smartphones. If porn is a priority, you will not buy an iPhone. If this is a financial driver, we could see the effects in both the appstore markets and the adoption rate of these phones.


    I'm no fan of Apple's inconsistent appstore policies and especially their censorship of reasonable material. (If you're going to ban bikini apps, then ban SI and Playboy. Man up, Jobs.) But I'm simply unconcerned about a minority-marketshare company blocking porn from their appstore.
     
  17. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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  18. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Cinematographer

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    Do you think Amazon's brand was/is/will be associated with porn? If your answer is "no" then why couldn't Apple follow Amazon's criteria?
     
  19. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Cinematographer

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    I see your point, but due the presence of Safari, Mail, etc. the iPhone OS devices do not turn back the clock to the days of your childhood. Do you think that any significant number of parents will refuse to buy their kids an Android device but agree to buy them an iPhone OS device as it is "safer"?


    And, IMO you are remembering through rose colored glasses -- there have been modems for as long as there were PCs. There were BBSes one could dial into, Usenet came into existence in the early '80s. Universities were connected to what became the Internet -- maybe you had an older sibling in college, maybe your friend did -- account sharing was common, you could dial in through someones university account and get to Usenet. Yes, I guess you had to be a tech savvy kid to get to the "good stuff", but my guess is any kid with a computer in the late 70's ~ 80's was a tech savvy kid.
     
  20. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    If they do, because they are, at heart, a bookstore. But does Amazon sell such stuff? And is it the full range -- like you would find at an "adult bookstore"? Or is it the limited, mainstream and tamer selection such as you find a Borders or B&N?



    In contrast Apple is selling "programs" which I think are viewed as a different thing. And this behavior is not novel: I don't believe Wal*Mart or Target or K-Mart or Sears or any other major retailer sells such material. They don't want to be associated with it.


    And so if Apple behaved like other conventional retailers, they'd still be making distinctions: we sell this porn but not that porn. This is classy porn but that stuff is nasty and skeezy. And so people would still be on their case for making artificial and arbitrary ("I know it when I see it") distinctions.


    So they moved the threshold pretty conservatively to SI Swimsuit Issue standards. Which is pretty liberal compared to even a few years ago :)


    I don't know if this is good or bad. I can only guess and estimate their reasonings. And if they did sell it, so long as it was quaratined from the greater appstore and I wouldn't see (during say a search for Dick's Sporting goods", I wouldn't care.
     

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