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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Silican Valley: Pornless?

I remember a few years, when I was working for a Fortune 500 technology firm. One of our clients asked about a "fool-proof" tool that he might find to block all access to pornography. After researching the issue, we had to advise the client that - based on the way the Internet is structured and the technologies used to access it - there would never be such a porn blocking device.

Basically any filtration that you could build to block porn could be cleverly infiltrated by the porn industry. Even then, there were web sites with innocuous sounding names which offered pornography. There were even porn sites masquerading as religious sites. It was an insidious evil. Worse yet, one did not even have to go to porn sites to get porn. All sorts of basic pornography were cached in the popular web browsers like Yahoo! and Google (in their images searches).

Now Google has long had a mantra from its founders. It simply said, "Don't be evil." We've always thought that to mean Google would have to be Switzerland, remaining neutral on any issue, never taking a stand. It seemed reasonable enough to define "not being evil" as not taking the side of evil. Until now that it. Enter Steve Jobs.

Mr. Jobs is the luminary CEO of Apple Computer. He's quite a legend, actually. The industry watches what he has to say. He's a visionary. He's usually right. He calls the plays that work. He's not nearly as rich as Bill Gates (who took over the world with Microsoft applications). But Mr. Jobs is much cooler than Mr. Gates. In fact, he is probably the undisputed author of cool in the technology industry.

So it was rather surprising when, amid all the hoopla over its latest release, that Mr. Jobs was found taking a stand against the pornography industry. Simply put, he decreed that his company would make sure that its technology did not accommodate pornography. Said different, Mr. Jobs said his company's technology would not accommodate evil.

The pornography industry was of course incensed. It fired back, hijacking ads, web sites, attacking networks and doing other things to humble Steve Jobs. Thus far it hasn't worked. He's still taking a stand. He's not backing down. His company's new technologies are being made to specifically not accommodate pornography.

To add insult to the porn industries injury, Jobs has welcomed pornography-fighting filters, which are unabashedly faith-based, such as and, to the applications that it offers for its technologies. Imagine that ... a Silicon Valley tech giant selling faith-based applications to help its customers fight evil!

In this day and age of anything goes, where corporate executives seem to display the most shocking and outrageous of behaviors, it is refreshing to see one take a stand for doing the right thing. It's even more refreshing when we realize that this position is a somewhat expensive one for Steve Jobs to take. But he takes it anyway. There will be some who cry that he's violating free speech and America's right to smut and filth. There will be others who applaud him.

Mr. Jobs' strong stand is already having an impact industry-wide. Microsoft has stepped up and said they too will begin making some of their technologies so that they are not open to pornography. Now some analysts say that Steve Jobs can't actually deliver on his promise. They argue that as long as one of the apps downloaded to an iPhone, for example, is a browser - porn will be accessible on that device. That may be, but you have to admire Steve Jobs stand. And we must pray that he can actually find a way to prevail in it too.

I've never met Steve Jobs. And to be honest, I've never really regarded him one way or the other. He was, in all candor, rather irrelevant to me. Today though, that has changed. I think I may have found myself a new corporate hero!


  1. Okay, this is just cool...

  2. Hope you don't mind. I linked to this post on my blog. I think others need to read it!

  3. Hello, I've over from Kat's blog, I think this is a great post, I never knew about what Mr. Jobs said concerning his new tech-projects. Very interesting indeed. Thanks for bringing attention to it.