As reported by The Independent, Macworld devised a test of the service where they attempted to send two almost identical emails:
1) 'My friend's son is already allowed to drive his high-powered car. It's ridiculous. He's a barely legal teenage driver? What on earth is John thinking'
2) ) 'My friend's son is already allowed to drive his high-powered car. It's ridiculous. He's barely a legal teenage driver? What on earth is John thinking'
On attempting to receive the mails, only the second one got through. The phrase 'barely legal teen' is used in pornographic searches by people hoping to find pictures of material featuring men and/or women who have just passed the minimum age required to appear in pornography (18 in most countries).
Although some would consider the phrase to have a strong association with paedophilia, it has been noted by many that 'barely legal' porn is (as its name suggests) not illegal, and users on social news site Reddit have criticized Apple for such censorship.
Macworld began their investigation after the issue was brought to their attention by a reader of their sister title Infoworld who was having trouble receiving a film script that contained the phrase.
Apple has a long history of censoring what it believes to be pornography. The iTunes store does not allow apps which feature semi-nude men or scantily-clad women (such as daily calendars and such), nor does the iBookstore allow adult magazines that are normally available in newstands or bookstores. The iBookstore rejected an e-book submission on the hippie movement because it contained photographs of naked people.
Macworld writer Mark Hattersley said: "Censoring the emails of personal individuals using Apple cloud services does seem to be another step on the ladder towards Apple control [of the internet and user content]. People do not have to use Apple's iCloud service, but Apple makes iCloud easy to set up and it still feels like a personal intrusion to have Apple's computers deciding what you can and can't say."