Kids Can Browse Porn in App Store Thanks to Tech Glitch

Filed under: In The News


A flaw in parental control software is allowing kids to search for and view pornographic materials in Apple's App Store.

The new operating system for Apple's wildly popular iPhones provides parents with beefed-up controls over what apps their children can purchase online, but a glitch in the software doesn't prevent them from looking for -- and viewing -- racy content, according to technology Web site Ars Technica.

Ars Technica reports that the flaw was discovered by a Scottish educator who develops applications for the iPhone. Apple now allows applications to be rated by age-level, but still allows apps rated 17 and up to be sold. While kids below that age range are prevented from downloading the content -- which Ars Technica calls "soft-core porn" -- they can still look at it.

Teacher Fraser Speirs works at the Cedars School for Excellence in Greenock, Scotland, teaching computer courses and managing the school's information technology. That school bought each of its 100 students an iPod touch, and that's when Speirs discovered the problem.

Kids looking at the "Lifestyle" applications category via Apple's iTunes Store can look at such gems as "A Hidden Cam Thong" or "Epic Boobs," including graphic text descriptions and not-appropriate-for-school screenshots.

Schools can block students from browsing inappropriate materials on the Internet using filters, but, Speirs says, so far there is no such work-around for the App Store. This would allow students to access the store, but not look at the questionable content. So, the school simply cut off access to the entire App Store.

"I would have liked to allow the students to browse the App Store and personalize their devices a bit," Speirs tells Ars. "Or, at the very least, see new apps and suggest them for deployment."

The teacher took action and filed a bug report with Apple concerning iTunes Store for Mac and the App Store on iPhones and iPod Touch devices.

Related: Should People Be Allowed to Watch Porn in Public?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.