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Watchdog criticises Apple sex apps

AppleA watchdog group that claimed a role in Apple's recent iPhone App Store porn purge claims there's still too much smut going around.

Parents Television Council vented to Fox News in the US about apps that it believes are inappropriate for the iPhone and iPod touch. Among they apps they take issue with are 'Truth or Dare - Dirty', 'My Vibe' and 'Passion'. It's worth noting that these apps don't put nudity or sex on display, but they do allude to or encourage sexual activity.

When Apple cracked down on "overtly sexual apps" in February, the PTC said it had "recently encouraged its members to contact Apple about this problem given the popularity of Apple products with families". The Fox News article says the group "successfully lobbied" Apple to remove apps that were blatantly pornographic.

But PTC remains unsatisfied, not just with the apps that are still available, but with the inability to block or monitor sites in the iPhone or iPod touch web browser. Gavin McKiernan, the PTC's grassroots director, lamented that "you can't stand over the shoulders of the kids, like you can with a PC, while they are online, or track their activities with the browser history." (Actually, you can check up on browsing history in iPhone Safari, unless the user deletes it.)

I personally don't agree with Apple's stance on what content is appropriate for the App Store, but I get the argument that Apple needs to keep its devices kid-friendly from a business perspective. The problem is that Apple has to draw the line somewhere, and groups like PTC will inevitably try to push that line further and further in their favour, until the App Store is scrubbed of anything that might offend or shock people.

Consider, for instance, that PTC also supports government restriction of violent video game sales to minors, arguing that industry self-regulation isn't good enough. The iPhone App Store has its fair share of gory games. Should Apple cave to parents who worry that their kids might be exposed to violence? If not, should the government get involved?

Of course not, but that's the slippery slope Apple stands on by deciding what's wrong and right in the App Store.

PC World

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