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Apple Needs to Do More to Keep Porn off iPhones, Watchdog Group Says

Dirty Fingers Screen Wash

The "Dirty Fingers Screen Wash" application is just one of a host of apps pulled from iTunes for inappropriate material. But some argue that Apple hasn't gone far enough.

Looking for porn? Get a Google phone, Steve Jobs said recently, defending Apple's role as moral watchdog following complaints that a political satire app had been flagged as pornography.

But some say the iPhone is anything but PG, and they're questioning how much effort Apple is investing in keeping itself clean.

The socially conservative Parents Television Council (PTC) thinks a wealth of salacious apps are currently available for iPhone users -- things like "My Vibe," which converts the iPhone into a vibrator, and "Love Positions Free," which has drawings of couples having sex. The group has publicly demanded that Apple stop providing porn to children -- and clean up its act.

But Apple's CEO Steve Jobs disagrees, saying that hard-core porn is verboten on his family-friendly iPhone. "We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone," the man in the black turtleneck recently told a customer, according to TechCrunch

As part of that responsibility, the company has removed many apps from the iTunes store that it deems inappropriate, including "Dirty Fingers Screen Wash," in which girls in bikinis "clean" the inside of the iPhone's screen, and  "Tight Body Perky Boobs," a collection of photos of young women.

"Folks who want porn can buy an Android phone," Jobs said, referring to the adults-only app store available for the Google platform that powers the Android. 

SLIDESHOW: Banned or Active? Can You Guess Which Apps Are Still on iTunes?

Still, the pro-family activists think Apple isn't doing enough. In recent weeks the PTC successfully lobbied Apple to remove some blatant pornography from the iTunes store, including an application called "Shawna Lenee Private Dance," which featured a porn movie star and former Penthouse vixen fondling herself.

"I do not see Shawna Lenee Private Dance on the App Store," Trudy Muller, a spokeswoman for Apple Computer, told FoxNews.com. "I can't find it on the App Store. Are you seeing it?" 

But the company had no comment on other risque apps that still remain available on iTunes -- or for sale outside of the iTunes store, where developers can feature even more explicit sexual themes. Among the apps available:

 Truth or Dare - Dirty (Two Girls Edition), produced by Todd Wiseman, which sells for $2.99. iTunes describes the app as containing "intense sexual content/nudity" and "profanity/crude humor." Users are cautioned that they must be at least 17 years old to download this game.

My Vibe, an application produced by Sawhorse Enterprises, which converts the iPhone into a vibrator that can be placed on the user’s private parts, and is described by a user on iTunes as an "app that makes my toes curl."

Passionan app by Chris Alvares that sells for 99 cents and purports to measure one’s sexual potency by the sounds made during sex. The app is activated by grunting sounds or a shaking bed.

Gavin McKiernan, the PTC's grassroots director, said Apple executives assured the group that the content on its App Store would be clean, and he hopes that any remaining pornographic applications or the many sexually-themed "wallpapers" still available are "there by mistake, possibly." 

"Apple needs to maintain its corporate social responsibility," he said.

McKiernan said Apple executives told PTC that when "Shawna Lenee" came out, they had been "misled" as to its actual content. "They responded quickly and pulled the app," he said.

But he notes that there are very few controls on an iPhone, and parents cannot monitor the content that their children or teenagers have been viewing during the day on its Internet browser. "There’s no way to filter it," McKiernan said. "And you can’t stand over the shoulders of the kids, like you can with a PC, while they are online, or track their activities with the browser history."

Parents can monitor App purchases via credit card bills, and since the installed apps are all visible on the iPhone, parents can readily spot check which ones their kids have bought and used. But there is no way to lock out websites or applications deemed appropriate, as there is on a computer through software or the parental controls built in to some operating systems.

Some industry watchers say the iPhone needs to install sophisticated filtering technology to help parents monitor their kids. 

"It’s up to Apple, since obviously it’s a ton of money for them," said Michael Hussey, founder and CEO of search engine PeekYou.com.

The PTC says it is also concerned about lewd apps being developed and distributed for other mobile phones and has been in touch with the carriers and developers about their concerns. But they are less worried about other brands because Apple is the key brand in the youth market.

Some app developers, meanwhile, question how Apple decides what qualifies as pornographic or lewd. "Our company went through the mill trying, failing, and eventually succeeding in getting our ‘pick up line’ app on the iPhone," says developer Rob Frankel. "And it had nothing obscene or prurient attached to it." 

His app, "Little Wingman," generates clever phrases to be used as conversation starters in bars.

Frankel told FoxNews.com that it took him "over nine months to bank up against Apple’s heavily fortressed iTunes department before they’d even consider re-evaluating. In the meantime, graphic and sexual applications were selling like hotcakes." 

Frankel concludes that "Steve Jobs, et al, liken themselves to Justice Potter Stewart, who remarked about porn, ‘I know it when I see it.’ Which is to say, Apple’s evaluation procedure and standards, are, at best, arbitrary."

Though some of the material available on the iPhone may be pornographic, it may not be technically obscene, and can be legally distributed as long as it is not intentionally targeted at kids -- a key distinction, says attorney Christopher Leibig, of Swerling, Leibig and Moseley. 

"Porn that is not obscene is protected by the First Amendment, and it can be distributed," Leibig told FoxNews.com.