• Apple Removes iCloud Emails Containing The Phrase 'Barely Legal Teens'



    Apple hate's pornography. There is no doubt about that. They have show this to us in many cases, and rightfully so, as any company would want to try and keep a clean image. We've seen many apps disappear from the AppStore that even closely resemble something with profanity. However it doesn't stop there, as it appears Apple is taking its spam filtering to the next level and is accessing user's email to permanently delete any emails that contain the phrase 'barely legal teens'.

    The spam hacking was discovered by Steven G., an Academy Award-winning developer of screenplay-writing software. Infoworld manage to get more details from Steven about this case and here is what he said:

    A screenwriter was delivering a PDF attachment of a draft of his script to the project's director, by emailing it from his iCloud/MobileMe account to Gmail. The problem? The script would never arrive, no matter how many times he would send it. But sending other PDF documents worked fine.

    I figured, wow -- is this some sort of spectacular failure of our screenwriting software (Movie Magic Screenwriter)? Our software had generated the PDF, so maybe we had accidentally generated information that was somehow matching the profile of a virus, or malware, causing the document to be rejected by Apple's mail servers.

    After obtaining a copy of the PDF (sent via Gmail to our Microsoft Exchange server), we confirmed the exact same behavior when we tried to send it to our own iCloud mailbox. The email never arrived, nor did we receive any return notification.
    Some might be thinking, "that is fine, it probably belongs in the spam folder and you can just retrieve it if it's not actually spam". However, its not that Apple is marking these emails as spam, they are actually deleting the emails entirely. Ideally, the concept that Apple is doing is likely accepted by many of us including me, however, with the scenario above with Steven G, it's clear that Apple is over-stepping it's boundaries.

    AND THEN I SAW IT -- a line in the script, describing a character viewing an advertisement for a pornographic site on his computer screen. Upon modifying this line, the entire document was delivered with no problem.
    Apple has yet to respond on this issue publicly, however Steven did find that under the iCloud terms of service, Apple does reserves the right to remove any content at any time that it feels is objectionable, without telling you that they’re going to delete it. With this information it seems apparent that Apple believes the phrase ‘barely legal teens’ applies to the ‘objectionable content’ category, and who knows what other phrases they may be blocking.

    You acknowledge that Apple is not responsible or liable in any way for any Content provided by others and has no duty to pre-screen such Content. However, Apple reserves the right at all times to determine whether Content is appropriate and in compliance with this Agreement, and may pre-screen, move, refuse, modify and/or remove Content at any time, without prior notice and in its sole discretion, if such Content is found to be in violation of this Agreement or is otherwise objectionable.
    Bottom line; what does the public think about this. Thoughts?
    Attached Files Attached Files
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Apple Removes iCloud Emails Containing The Phrase 'Barely Legal Teens' started by nickhesson View original post
    Comments 31 Comments
    1. Zokunei's Avatar
      Zokunei -
      lmao
    1. jeffrh's Avatar
      jeffrh -
      Apple is acting like the Middle East's Modesty Police. It's a slippery slope!
    1. n00neimp0rtant's Avatar
      n00neimp0rtant -
      I just tried it too. I can understand marking as spam or providing a warning before delivery, but completely obliterating it? And sifting through the content of a PDF file, no less?? This is not good. Consumers should be very wary of this.
    1. Channan's Avatar
      Channan -
      Haha wow. Just confirmed this.
    1. Kupe's Avatar
      Kupe -
      This wouldn't be so funny if Apple's Junk and Spam filtering wasn't so weak in every other regard! My mac.com email receives a half-dozen "urgent" phishing emails per day alleging to be from Facebook "Support" and Facebook "Admin". LOL- I don't even have a Facebook account!
    1. King_O_Hill's Avatar
      King_O_Hill -
      Not liking that they are opening attachments and perusing through them.
    1. Merman123's Avatar
      Merman123 -
      Hmm.. What apple is doing is barely legal..
    1. Zokunei's Avatar
      Zokunei -
      So this only affects @iCloud.com email addresses and not all addresses registered with iCloud?
    1. b1997469's Avatar
      b1997469 -
      Isn't that a breech of privacy? Apple opening emails and attachments and reading them?
    1. MickieGama's Avatar
      MickieGama -
      Haha
    1. vinaygoel2000's Avatar
      vinaygoel2000 -
      Guys, nobody is opening emails or attachments and reading them through. It's all software and it's all encrypted.

      Relax.
    1. twitchee3's Avatar
      twitchee3 -
      Quote Originally Posted by vinaygoel2000 View Post
      Guys, nobody is opening emails or attachments and reading them through. It's all software and it's all encrypted.

      Relax.
      Maybe in a few years we'll have automated mailboxes (physical) that take the mail from the curb and bring it into my living room. But if you didn't read the fine print on the box when purchasing this device, you'll be totally unaware that the system is actually reading all of your mail and destroying anything it has been programmed to deem inappropriate. Okay, we probably won't have physical mail anymore at this point, but you see where I'm going with this... I would deem such activity a gross violation of privacy, and a huge overstep by those who make a product supposedly to help with delivery of my mail (or destruction of it).

      I think the big issue here is Apple misleading its customers. Sure, you can find a line in the fine print saying they might censor your emails (probably in a vague one liner of legal jargon buried deep in their TOS), but I'd say it's safe to assume that most people using iCloud expect their communications to be 100% free (uncensored) and confidential.

      I understand your point, but it's the principle of the matter at stake here. If this is considered perfectly okay, then what's the next step? Think about it...

      This is outrageous, and should be illegal. What's to stop them from scanning emails and censoring everything they don't agree with? If, say, an investigative journalist stumbled across wrong-doing, or even illegal activity on Apple's part and attempted to relay this information to others through their iCloud account? They could also target politically sensitive emails and censor an entire group's communications (provided they were using iCloud) without them ever knowing it. In addition, even though it is in their terms of service, it does not in any way specify what type of information would be censored, so, I guess to be safe, we would just have to assume that every email we send could potentially have content not approved by Apple and thus be censored. This type of practice is EXTREMELY dangerous to a free society, and while at this point we only have evidence of them censoring some pretty harmless (in regards to their censoring of it) stuff, who knows what else they may (or already have been) censoring, or what other corporations (or government agencies) also have similar censorship programs in place.

      If Apple leads everyone to believe that they run an email service which allows free communication between individuals, but then behind the scenes they are censoring whatever they don't agree with without any of the users even knowing it, they could easily disrupt the flow of certain ideas, which in turn could sway public opinion on specific issues. EXTREMELY dangerous in a free and open society.

      This is a very slippery slope, one I'm afraid we are accelerating down at an exponential rate.
    1. *T*'s Avatar
      *T* -
      So... When we signed Apple's terms of service, we basically revoked our constitutional right to privacy? Isn't it against the law to read/open mail anyway?
    1. sheon's Avatar
      sheon -
      simple fix to this just dont use icloud for your email i never used anything from apple in regards to email i just use gmail i even turn off email part for icloud in my iPhone
    1. King_O_Hill's Avatar
      King_O_Hill -
      I agree with twitchee3 here. Very dangerous.
    1. vinaygoel2000's Avatar
      vinaygoel2000 -
      @twitchee TLDR.
    1. iLoveWindows&iPhone's Avatar
      iLoveWindows&iPhone -
      Quote Originally Posted by *T* View Post
      So... When we signed Apple's terms of service, we basically revoked our constitutional right to privacy? Isn't it against the law to read/open mail anyway?
      I believe that only applies to mail delivered using the United States Postal Office, and mail delivered to your physical mailbox, as your mailbox is federal property. Seems to me e-mail is a sort of grey area...
    1. jeffrh's Avatar
      jeffrh -
      The funny thing is "Barely Legal Teens" on its face is legal! Maybe barely, but its legal! Maybe they should just filter out 'Illegal Teens".
    1. mr117's Avatar
      mr117 -
      Does it filter out swear words as well? If you drop an f-bomb into your email does it disappear when you send it? I don't swear in emails, but am just curious. And what about texting using iMessage? Does the same hold true there as well? I agree, a very slippery slope for a corporation to take. Especially since the filter doesn't factor in for context. If I have twin thirteen-year-old kids and I say in an email to my friend that my barely legal teens are going to attend a PG-13 movie because they now can, I assume that violates the terms of agreement. And yet my phrase should not fall into that category. And what happens if porn producers start using other phrases and then those phrases start being filtered? Red Hot mamas? It girls? A pickle and two fish? Where does this end?
    1. twitchee3's Avatar
      twitchee3 -
      Quote Originally Posted by vinaygoel2000 View Post
      @twitchee TLDR.
      I actually had to look up what TLDR meant. Apparently it means "too long, didn't read," which is a pretty good example of why this kind of thing is so dangerous.

      If we use the services provided by large corporations with tons of profit at stake while being oblivious to the detrimental terms we're using those services under, we're basically handing over our ability to make some pretty important decisions (such as what information is relevant) to these corporations, which, by law, must put their ability to increase profits above all else, including our well being.
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