Apple has not kept its disapproval of ‘jail breaking’ a secret. It has long considered bypassing its restrictions on the installation of apps only from Apple’s approved sources as a form of copyright violation. However, it looks like it is extending its distaste for the practice to the iTunes Store. If you search for ‘jailbreak’ at the store, you will retrieve lots of listings where the title of the podcast, tv show, app, and song blocked out by asterisks. In addition to iTunes Store, the filtering also applies to the iBookstore. A quick look at the App Store Guidelines does not yield any provisions that ban the word ‘jailbreak.’ The only thing remotely close is a provision that says apps that have descriptions which are ‘not relevant’ to the app’s functionality or content will be rejected.
The news of the filter broke out online by a Twitter user named “MuscleNerd” who described himself as an iPhone hacker. What are the practical implications of this development? Considering the volume of searches for ‘jailbreak’ content, this move by Apple is all about cracking down on sleazy marketing. One of the easiest ways for an app to get noticed is to label it as jailbreak content. People are always on the lookout for that type of content so the term gets a lot of searches. App and content marketers, always out to find ways to get their product noticed against a background of massive noise from the countless other apps competing for consumers’ eyeballs, resorted to using the jailbreak term to get much needed attention. Apple then swung its mighty filter hammer to in effect block the usage of this term to mislabel content. If you prize truth in advertising, Apple did the right thing in this situation.