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Apple censoring iCloud emails and attachments

Mark Hattersley | March 1, 2013
It has been revealed that Apple is now deleting, and refusing to deliver emails with the phrase "barely legal teen" in them.

Apple's iCloud email service deletes all emails that contain the phrase "barely legal teen" it was revealed today.

Macworld has tested this by sending two test emails from a personal iCloud account. The message read "My friend's son is already allowed to drive his high-powered car. It's ridiculous. He's a barely legal teenage driver? What on earth is John thinking."

The second email amended the phrase "a barely legal" to "barely a legal". This second email was delivered fine, whereas the first is still undelivered. Upon further testing we discovered that the phrase is not blocked by Siri or iMessages, both of which can search and send messages containing the term: "barely legal teen".

The phrase "barely legal" is used in pornographic searches, and has a decidedly unsavoury context of youth. The type of pornography of children that are just over the watershed age that is generally considered legally acceptable (typically 18-years-old for the United States audience, although it varies by territory). It's association with paedophilia is undeniable, however.

Other similar phrases, such as "All grown up" often used by the British press can still be sent.

A reader called Steven G. alerted Macworld sister site, Infoworld, to the issue. His email goes to some length to explain how he discovered that the phrase was banned:

Steven G says: "A screenwriter was delivering a PDF attachment of a draft of his script to the project's director, by emailing it from his iCloud/MobileMe account to Gmail. The problem? The script would never arrive, no matter how many times he would send it. But sending other PDF documents worked fine."

He began experimenting with the file, turning the screenplay to a PDF and ZIP and then encrypted the file using Apple's encrypted archive format. But it came with an unusual "Not Virus Scanned" message appended to the subject field. He began to suspect that something inside the file was failing and then started to cut it into smaller parts to send it.

Steven G. writes: "AND THEN I SAW IT -- a line in the script, describing a character viewing an advertisement for a pornographic site on his computer screen. Upon modifying this line, the entire document was delivered with no problem." "

Apple has a history of being anti-pornography. Pornographic apps are not allowed on the app store, and Apple does not allow pornographic content in its iBookstore.

Apple also rejected a iBookstore e-book submission on the Hippie movement it rejected the book because it contained photographs of naked people. As Artsfredom says "The market is extremely large, and it is not one bit too much to talk about artistic censorship when they exclude a book which content is not criminal."

 

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