A lot of us on boingboing are into speculative fiction. We extraopolate from the now into the future. I think you’re onto something, when you hedge your position:
Unless the government or some other authority mandated this app.
because it is theoretically possible to implement a mandatory policy without being a government.
For instance, on certain bluray discs and dvd discs, certain commercials (and FBI warnings) are unskipable. Most, if not all licensed players contain code that will respect the unskipable flag, because it would violate the licensing aggreement not to implement this misfeature. Most players are licensed because the discs are encrypted, and it is too difficult to crack the encryption, and because the government regards unlicensed decryptors as circumvention devices.
In a perfect world, unlicensed decryptors would be mathematically impossible, and the private individuals who presently rely on laws to protect their monopolies would be able to produce self enforcing licences. They would be able to act as governments, and they would be able to dictate the terms of any contract, no matter how unjust. To argue that censorship is the regime of “governments” and not private individuals ignores the real problem of private monopolies occupying the role of government.
Cleanreader does not seem to have the sort of “parental controls” that would enable this sort of tyranny over students, children, users of public libraries, submissives in a BDSM relationship, so the argument that Cleanreader carves out an exception to the first amendment is flawed.
What Cory is arguing is that Cleanreader, as a purely voluntary scheme, is a potentially desirable act of free speech even when applied to copyrighted works. If I want to read Makers with the dirty wirds blocked out, that would be my choice, and to block that choice (for the sake of Moral Rights) would conflict with my first amendment rights.
Personally I don’t agree with Cory. The question, however, is whether my personal aversion to bowdlerization should have any legal, or quasi
legal effect on those who would like not to see the word " cunt" on their ereaders.