Playboy announced this week that the entire archive of Playboy magazine--every issue of the magazine's history in all its full-color glory--will soon be available on the Apple iPad. The news has sparked some scrutiny over the use of the iPad as a business tool, and led to some debate over workplace privacy and acceptable usage policies. Frankly, the pandemonium over Playboy is just ridiculous.
Apple--and more specifically Steve Jobs--has firmly established that "pornography" is unwelcome on the iOS platform. In fact, to get its iPad app past the Apple App Store gatekeepers last year, Playboy had to remove all nudity and risqué content.
Whew! Dodged that bullet. Thanks to Apple's puritan policies, we have all been sheltered from having to see the naked human body...at least in an app. Unfortunately for Apple, it has no control over Web content. Playboy is exploiting that annoying little fact to make its content available to the iPad via the Safari Web browser.
The real reason, though, that any increased scrutiny or crackdown against the use of the iPad as a business tool as a result of Playboy is just silly is that nudity and pornography of all types have always been available on the iPad, iPhone, and other iOS devices through the Web. I guarantee you that the archived catalog of Playboy magazine is the least of your worries if banning access to graphic sex and nudity is your goal.
Where there is a will, there is a way. And, when it comes to pornography, there is most definitely a will--both on the part of the industry, as well as the vast customer base that wishes to access it. Despite the public condemnation and treatment of porn as some sort of pariah, it is a booming industry raking in billions of dollars. Obviously, there is some market demand.
Much of the porn content on the Web--like other video content on the Web--uses Adobe Flash. The lack of Flash support within iOS makes that content inaccessible, but there is still no shortage of graphic photos and images, and many sites have made video content available via HTML5.
The bottom line is that Apple's efforts to block porn have always been futile, and always will be. Companies that are thinking twice about using the iPad as a result of the Playboy content need to also consider banning smartphones, notebooks, and PCs. The content is out there, and it isn't device-centric, so targeting any single device or platform is ridiculous.
Most businesses already have policies in place governing the use of company-provided devices and network resources, and those policies ban the viewing of objectionable materials. Many businesses also already employ some sort of Web content-filtering tool to block access for those who fail to follow those established policies or accidentally click the wrong link. There is no need to do anything more, or anything different to police access to porn from the iPad.
For companies that exercise stricter monitoring and control, though, there might be a market for some sort of tool that would enable IT administrators to restrict, or at least monitor, how the iPad is used and what content is accessed when it is outside of the company network.