The tech world has been buzzing with yesterday’s ruling about the legality of “jailbreaking” one’s iPhone (removing certain barriers to non-Apple approved applications for iPhones). This means that phone owners have the right to alter their phones to download non-approved content or even to switch carriers.
The Bloomberg.com story linked above indicates that Apple routinely “withholds approval of applications because they have technical bugs or contain material such as pornography that the company considers inappropriate.” This resolves, to some extent, the firestorm (heads-up on some of the graphics on this site) over Apple’s Steve Jobs ban of sexual content on these apps. The last line in the Gizmodo.com essay (linked above) notes, “Steve Jobs knows his legacy and it isn’t sex apps. It’s great hardware and software. But why the hell can’t gadget porn and real porn coexist?”
It will be interesting to see if this will now create a portal for viruses and other safety concerns to enter into the Iphone world, which appears to be part of the fear that Apple has with the ruling (jailbreaking apparently will continue to void all warranties and support).
It’s more interesting, though, to ponder these developments after reading Mary Eberstadt’s essay “The Weight of Smut” in the June / July issue of First Things. I once heard a technology expert say that one of the primary driving forces behind most of the technological advancements of the past thirty years has been the hunger for easier access to pornography: cable, VCRs, camcorders, the Internet, cell phone cameras, and so forth. I suspect that Eberstadt would agree with that observation.