Thursday, June 07, 2012

NYT's Bob Tedeschi gives me a parting gift - iOS Parental Controls don't work

A few months ago NYT's Bob Tedeschi missed the iOS Porn story - Apple's Parental Controls don't actually work.

I know, for example, of a special needs teenager who writes at a 2nd grade level but can get from Mobiata's FlightBoard to an embedded Webkit Google search on "hot chicks" in just a few mouse clicks - when Safari is disabled. (Anything with a Twitter share button is trivial to hack.)

Bob followed up on an email I sent him last January, but I didn't see anything in his NYT articles. Until today's farewell article  ... (emphasis mine)

Some Final Thoughts on a Booming Industry - Bob Tedeschi -

Having covered the boom and bust of the e-commerce industry, and then the boom and bust of the mortgage industry, I’m exiting the mobile apps beat before I see death and destruction again...

... Before stretching my journalistic legs elsewhere, though, I’d like to share a few closing thoughts about where the mobile apps industry might focus, if it hopes to stave off a bust of its own....

... No. 3: Allow greater parental controls.

If, 20 years ago, Google or Apple introduced a new television service or device that included thousands of pornographic channels, and then they marketed the product to children, you could imagine the outrage that would have generated.

Mobile devices are the younger generation’s TV sets, yet our new-age broadcasters deliver pornography and other potentially objectionable content to the devices without giving parents an easy way to reliably block that content.

As it now stands, parents who care about shielding their children from adult content on their mobile devices need a manual, an hour or more of free time and continued vigilance against apps that offer a portal to the open Web...

That bolded sentence -- that was for me. Thanks Bob.

Short of a humiliating Congressional hearing I've abandoned hope that Apple will do anything. Actually, I've pretty much abandoned all hope. Parents have embraced denial (which is a good thing when your kids are away at college, not so good when they're 10 yo). 

Unfortunately, I doubt developers can even choose to disable WebKit access when Safari is blocked. UIWebViewDelegate Protocol Reference, for example, only provides information on WebKit access, not Safari access. I'm pretty sure Apple doesn't provide Parental Control settings for use by 3rd party software.

Where is the religious right when I need them? Oh, yeah, fighting gay marriage. Way to keep your eye on the ball gang.

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