According to TechCrunch, Apple has just been awarded a patent for what looks to be a system that can prevent users from sexting on their phones.
It's not called an anti-sexting feature, but it seems able to accomplish that very task. The patent is for a "Text-based communication control for personal communication device."
Sexting is not explicitly mentioned in the patent's description, although it does make mention of a "parental control application" included in the "control application" that "evaluates whether or not the communication contains approved text based on, for example, objective ratings criteria or a user's age or grade level, and, if unauthorized, prevents such text from being included in the text-based communication." (Emphasis added) The patent continues, "If the control contains unauthorized text, the control application may alert the user, the administrator or other designated individuals of the presence of such text. The control application may require the user to replace the unauthorized text or may automatically delete the text or the entire communication." (Emphasis added).
The patent's abstract (via ReadWriteweb) offers more detail, and notes that the patent could be used to help children learn languages:
Systems, devices, and methods are provided for enabling a user to control the content of text-based messages sent to or received from an administered device. In some embodiments, a message will be blocked (incoming or outgoing) if the message includes forbidden content. In other embodiments, the objectionable content is removed from the message prior to transmission or as part of the receiving process. The content of such a message is controlled by filtering the message based on defined criteria. The criteria may be defined according to a parental control application. These techniques also may be used, in accordance with instructional embodiments, to require the administered devices to include certain text in messages. These embodiments might, for example, require that a certain number of Spanish words per day be included in e-mails for a child learning Spanish.
Apple has become notorious for its work to keep X-rated content off of the iPhone and other iOS devices--for example, earlier this year, the company removed thousands of sexually explicit apps from the App Store (See Apple's most ridiculous banned apps). Apple CEO Steve Jobs also allegedly promised "freedom from porn" in a fiery email exchange.
Despite having secured the patent, it's not clear when Apple might implement this "control application," if ever.
What do you think of the device? Is it helpful or does it go too far?