More pornography sneaks onto the iPhone

The app, named BeautyMeter, has been removed in line with Apple's policy against pornographic material

Less than a week after the iPhone app developer behind Hottest Girls was busted for distributing pornographic material on the iPhone, another perpetrator sneaked in and posted what is purported to be a photo of a nude 15-year-old girl to its iPhone app. The app, named BeautyMeter, has been removed in line with Apple's policy against pornographic material.

iPhone app review site Krapps broke the story of the supposed pedophiliac app in its review of BeautyMeter. BeautyMeter was similar to sites like Hot or Not wherein users judge amateur models and regular Joes and Janes based on physical appearance.

The way in which nudity weasels its way onto the iPhone is actually pretty simple. Developers submit the app without any nudity, but full of girls in skimpy clothing, so that it earns a PG-13 rating from Apple. Afterward, developers shift gears and upload nude photographs. The nude photographs may have time to spread, but Apple quickly banishes such apps from its store.

BeautyMeter's terms and conditions spelled out its lazy policies regarding nudity: "We don't review each uploaded photo exclusively but from time to time we will clean up. You can mark a photo as spam so the community is able to regulate among themselves material that they don't like." There are obvious problems with these policies. First, leaving censorship up to the community is bound to fail, as many customers will not complain about nudity -- that's a main reason for downloading such apps. Second, BeautyMeter needed to take a stricter stance on its regulatory practices. The danger in not doing so is banishment from the App Store. They should have taken a page from Hottest Girls' history book and known better.

Apple's stance on the matter is clear: "Apple will not distribute applications that contain inappropriate content, such as pornography." But is Apple keeping a close enough eye on the problem? Seems to me that whenever an app centered on sexiness is approved, it should be watched closely to ensure it does not violate policies. So many are breaking the rules lately; Apple should bolster its security measures, else it appear soft on porn.

The BeautyMeter incident brings to mind the "sexting" fiascos that gained media attention earlier this year. Teenagers were, and are, swapping naked photos of themselves via cellphones, and because some of them are underage, perpetrators are busted for distribution of child pornography. Kids are going to expose their bodies to friends and, it appears, to the public. Give them an outlet and they'll take advantage. BeautyMeter did just that.

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Brennon Slattery

PC World (US online)
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