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iPhone jailbreak means porn is on the way

28 Jul

It didn’t take long for someone to suggest what the real effect of the new rule that allows “jailbreaking” of iPhones in the U.S. will be: it’s going to lead to an upturn in mobile porn. And as anyone who’s been following the situation knows, that must really have Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ panties in a twist.

If you missed the news, the U.S. Library of Congress, which oversees the Copyright Office, on Monday enacted a number of exceptions to the Digital Copyright Millennium Act, or the law that governs how Americans are allowed to make copies of electronic content as well as the level of access and power they have over the gadgets they own. Two of the big new exceptions to the DMCA include the right for consumers to unlock their cellphones so that they can be used on different carriers, and the right to put whatever software they want onto their devices.

Apple maintains a tight grip on the iPhone and only lets users put apps it has approved onto it. Naturally, the company fought against these exceptions and is none too pleased they got passed. The ruling will allow people to “jailbreak” the phone and load on whatever software they want.

As NetworkWorld touched on, we can expect an influx of porn apps for the iPhone since they have now effectively been declared legal. They won’t come through Apple and iTunes, of course, but from third parties. A couple of analysts have speculated that a “red light app store” is likely to arise.

The downside of the Library of Congress’s exception is that the iPhone has been considerably opened up to hacking and malicious attacks. You can bet a number of rogue software developers will create virus- and malware-laden apps that unsuspecting users will inevitably load onto their iPhones. Apple wasted no time in saying that jailbreaking the iPhone will void its warranty, which is a completely understandable and warranted position for the company to take. After all, if you want to mess around with your device and do whatever you want with it, you should have that right, but you should also do so at your own risk.

On the plus side, respected companies that have had their apps blocked by Apple are now free to go to town. I can’t imagine it’ll be too long before Google launches its Google Voice calling service, an app that was prohibited on the iPhone because it threatens cellphone carrier revenue.

The same holds true for the larger or “respected” adult companies – the likes of Playboy, Digital Playground and Pink Visual, among others. It’s probably only a matter of time – possibly even days – before one of them announces an app for jailbroken iPhones. And because these are established and credible brands, users can be reasonably confident that the apps will be safe to install.

Again, Steve Jobs must be apoplectic by this turn of events. This is the man who recently declared the iPhone “free from porn,” even though users could still access adult content through the device’s web browser. Keeping his app store porn-free, though, seemed to be a source of pride.

An analyst in the NetworkWorld story estimated that only 4% of iPhone users had a jailbroken handset, so the new DMCA exception probably won’t have much of an impact. Given the historical trends regarding porn and technology (detailed at length in Sex, Bombs and Burgers!), I’d disagree and say the new rules will have a big effect.

Before the exceptions, there really weren’t that many reasons to jailbreak your iPhone. There are few industries that face as much demand as the adult business, and now that porn apps are officially allowed onto the iPhone, producers will move to fill the supply side. Porn apps are therefore likely to spur more jailbreaking, especially if Pink Visual and the gang manage to come up with some innovative and intriguing apps that actually make it worth the risk of voiding Apple’s warranty.

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Posted by on July 28, 2010 in apple, copyright, digital playground, iphone, Pink Visual, playboy, sex

 

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