Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Apple is Granted Patent on “Anti-Sexting” Technology
Apple has been granted a patent in the United States for technology that would prevent “sexting” from their iPhone. This technology could be used by adults to prevent children from sending or receiving sexually explicit messages. It would allow a phone’s administrator to block incoming or outgoing text messages containing specified words. Messages containing this explicit material would either be blocked or have the offensive language redacted.
Apple contends in the patent application that this new technology is necessary because old methods of monitoring text communications have, in large part, failed. Apple argues that restricting a child’s communication to a pre-set list of phone numbers, as is the common modern method of monitoring communications, does not address the content of those communications. The company further asserts that this technology can be used as a teaching tool by not allowing communications unless the message is written with correct grammar. Although it is not clear how this technology will be built into future iPhones, it is known that it will work with the existing text-messaging technology.
Although a major step for technology, this application will not prevent sexually explicit message from being sent or received by children. First, the technology does not address the capability of sending sexually explicit images. Phones with this technology will still receive graphic images or depictions of sexual situations. Second, the technology will not be able to recognize familiar euphemisms that are used in place of explicit language. A person wanting to send sexually explicit information on a phone with this technology will simply send a picture or use slang to make an end-run around the system.
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