Apple's fears of jailbreaking -- i.e. making their gadgets work outside of Apple's software controls -- have trickled down to the iTunes store in a way that just doesn't make any sense. As a method of using iPhones and iPads in unauthorized ways, you can at least understand why Apple wouldn't like jailbreaking. But jailbreaking is also a word that means escaping jail, which is a common theme in music and movies and TV shows that Apple sells. Yet, it has started treating the word like an expletive, which hacker Planetbeing discovered, by starring out all the letters between j and k, as you can see below. We just visited the iTunes Store to search for "jailbreak" and this is what we found:
There's a whole lot of nonsense going on in this screen shot. First, that iPhone app isn't even for phone hacking, at least not according to its description, which claims its a shooter game that tells the story of one prisoner. You won't even find jailbreaking apps in iTunes because Apple so closely monitors what can and can't go in their App Store (thus the reason lots of people end up jailbreaking their devices). Also, why does iTunes censor some instances of the word, but not others? "Jailbreak" by Thin Lizzy shows up right above "J*******k" by Thin Lizzy. "Jail Break" with two words is OK, while The Real World Austin episode "Johannah's J*******k" is not. And, per Shoutpedia, the South Africa store has no asterisks. There is no method to this madness.
The impetus, we suppose, is that Apple doesn't like jailbreaking, as we learned from this New Yorker profile of George Hotz -- the hacker who first unlocked the phone. Technically, it's legal, but it's a gateway for piracy and getting around limitations that mobile carriers and Apple build into phones. (For instance, there's no technical reason your iPhone can't serve as a mobile WiFi hotspot, but AT&T would like you to pay extra for the service; a jailbroken phone can.) In 2009 Apple spoke out against the practice, filing comment with the U.S. Copyright Office arguing the practice constitutes copyright infringement. But Apple hasn't made any comments of late. And, like we said, these things on the iTunes Store have nothing to do with piracy. Perhaps it's a glitch? We reached out to Apple for comment. The company has yet to respond.
Image via Shutterstock by riekephotos.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.