Apple’s Battle Against Porn Continues

by Anthony John Agnello | November 4, 2011 8:44 am

On Thursday, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL[1]) once again butted heads with the pornography industry[2]. Apple has filed a claim under ICANN’s Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy[3] to try to gain control of iPhone4s.com and six other URLs, including porn4iphones.com and iphonexxxforce.com, all of which redirect to hardcore pornography websites offering content formatted specifically for Apple’s popular smartphone.

The complaint itself, while it sounds unusual, isn’t. Apple has had to wrestle away control of domain names referring to its products numerous times in the past. The company finally gained control of iPhone4.com[4] this July — 13 months after the first iPhone 4 model was released.

This broad complaint marks the latest skirmish in a quiet war that Apple has been waging specifically against pornography. The popularity of Apple’s portable devices like the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch has placed hundreds of millions of Internet-connected devices in consumers pockets — Apple is expected to sell 107 million iPhones alone in 2012[5] — and with an estimated 370 million pornographic websites online[6], you’d think keeping Debbie Does Dallas off iDevices would be a Sisyphean task. But that hasn’t stopped Apple from trying.

Apple flat-out barred porn from the App Store when it opened for business in 2008, but intrepid app makers continuously sneaked nudity into apps throughout the store’s first two years. In February 2010, Apple began removing apps from its App Store containing “overtly sexual content” that had gotten around censors, even those containing only partial nudity[7]. The company went one step further in March, sending a cease-and-desist order to company MiKandi[8] simply for marketing itself as the “world’s first mobile porn app store.” Apple took umbrage with the phrase “app store” being used (something the company is infamously prickly about[9]).

The anti-porn policy went all the way to the top at Apple, too. In an email tête-à-tête with Gawker‘s Ryan Tate, the late Steve Jobs claimed that the iPad was a revolutionary device precisely because it gave web surfers “freedom from porn[10].” The celebration of creativity, life, relationships and art that the iPad and iPhone sell themselves as in advertisements apparently doesn’t include sex as part of that equation.

As of this writing, Anthony John Agnello did not own a position in any of the stocks named here. Follow him on Twitter at @ajohnagnello[11] and become a fan of InvestorPlace on Facebook[12].

Endnotes:
  1. AAPL: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=AAPL
  2. butted heads with the pornography industry: http://investorplace.com/2011/11/thursday-apple-rumors-apple-porn-sites-aapl/
  3. ICANN’s Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy: http://www.icann.org/en/udrp/udrp.htm
  4. gained control of iPhone4.com: http://fusible.com/2011/07/apple-acquires-leaked-iphone4-com-domain-name-still-missing-others/
  5. Apple is expected to sell 107 million iPhones alone in 2012: http://allthingsd.com/20111003/2012-a-107-million-iphone-year/
  6. 370 million pornographic websites online: http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/06/24/us-internet-xxx-idUSTRE65N4UP20100624
  7. even those containing only partial nudity: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/02/iphone-porn/
  8. sending a cease-and-desist order to company MiKandi: http://www.mobiledia.com/news/84978.html
  9. something the company is infamously prickly about: http://investorplace.com/2011/03/tuesdays-apple-rumors-whats-in-a-name/
  10. freedom from porn: http://gawker.com/5539717/
  11. @ajohnagnello: http://twitter.com/#%21/ajohnagnello
  12. InvestorPlace on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/InvestorPlace/178906405484848

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