Apple’s Concessions on 3rd Party Tools, Publishing its Approval Policy

Arguably the biggest story last week was Apple making concessions to complaints about its draconian and arbitrary restrictions over how development may be done and what kind of apps are suitable for its mobile platform. Its ban on 3rd party tools has not only locked out Adobe with whom the Cupertino company has traded barbs over the Flash multimedia platform but also barred tools like the educational programming environment, Scratch.

Chris Foreman at Ars Technica has details both on the relaxation of these restrictions and Apple’s sharing of its approval criteria. This is hardly an all out win and I suspect Foreman is right that an FTC investigation has more to do with the change than any competitive pressure (yet) from the more open Android platform from Google.

The revised 3rd party clause still forbids apps from downloading code once installed. This gives considerable weight to the theory that the restriction is intended to keep 3rd parties from delivering their own competitive application stores. It would seem to me that if the FTC reads the changes that way Apple may still end up in hot water for effectively exercising monopoly power over the popular and lucrative but singular legitimate distribution channel. Users can still jailbreak their iPhones and iPads to use 3rd part app stores. The recent DMCA exemptions legalize this route though the distribution of tools to accomplish jail breaking is still problematic.

This reminds me of Danny O’Brien’s thoughts when the initial launch of the iPad prompted highly polarized reactions. Apple has changed its stance on open versus closed in the past and this is evidence that they will continue to shift through this spectrum. However, I am still concerned at the arbitrary reasoning, even defying market pressure, for Apple to move one way or the other so stand by my own personal choice to spend my gadget mad money from here on out on open systems.

Apple relaxes restrictions on iOS app code, iAd analytics, Ars Technica

feeds | grep links > Latest iOS Thoroughly Jailbroken, DDoSing Copyright Infringers, Robots Taught to Deceive, and More

  • Hacker find iOS 4.1 bootrom vulnerability that enables jailbreak of all current hardware
    Via Hacker News. Hardly surprising that such a flaw exists, though a little bit so that it is so comprehensively exploitable. As geek.com explains, the vulnerability doesn’t look to be software fixable so owner override rules the day until the next generation of hardware emerges.
  • Amazon acquires Amie Street
    As The Register explains it, this is actually sad news. The music retailer that experimented with sliding prices based on popularity is shifting over to exclusively streaming music, winding down its download option. The silver lining is that Amazon pretty much only acquired the name, not the business model or any customer records.
  • Big content turning to DDoS for stubborn infringers
    As Slashdot points out, the big content players in question are mostly based in India though the firm performing the attacks admits to doing so on behalf of Hollywood. Regardless of legalities, especially with the thorny questions raised by international jurisdictions, this sort of attack strikes me as highly immoral.
  • Clarification on warez raid, Pirate Bay and others not affected
    Ernesto at TorrentFreak has a further follow up to the story of multiple, coordinated police raids against European ISPs the other day. Despite reporting elsewhere, the target wasn’t the Pirate Bay, nor was another BitTorrent site, both of whom TF contacted for confirmation.
  • Swiss supreme court rules against anti-piracy firm, TorrentFreak
  • Robots taught to deceive, Slashdot
  • Open source VLC submitted to Apple for approval on iPad
    Slashdot has the details, the outcome of which I am skeptical. I don’t think this is the first time someone has tried to tweak and compile the wonderfully capable media player for Apple’s mobile platform. That past effort never amounted to much. If this attempt fails, maybe the next one will only include those codecs, like Ogg and Flac, that Apple has no interest in supporting.

Security Alerts for the Week Ending 9/5/2010

feeds | grep links > Digital Census in Brazil, Ads that Stalk Surfers, Cyanogen Supports FroYo, and More

Security Alerts for the Week Ending 8/29/2010

I should have posted these yesterday, going by my usual schedule. Being on hiatus from the podcast is disrupting my usual force of habit though.

feeds | grep links > RIAA Says DMCA Not Working (Hard Enough for Them), Jury Invalidates EFF’s Top Patent, Proposed Apple Spyware Goes Too Far, and More

  • Apple seeking to patent spyware and traitorware
    I have to agree with the incredulous tone in EFF’s analysis of Apple’s patent application. This goes well beyond anti-theft measures, none of the included techniques are worth it for a phone no matter how expensive or the risk of a breach of personal info. Simple encryption would be a more suitable solution for the latter and insuring the device if it is that important the former. I am really far more concerned about the potential privacy implications than Apple using this as some sort of spite based DRM to increase the pain of jail breaking a device despite it now being authorized under the DMCA section 2101 rulemaking.
  • Jury invalidates one of EFF’s “Most Wanted” patents
  • Google Marketplace DRM cracked
    As the Register explains, the break was relatively simple predicated on the ease of de-compiling Java bytecode. To be more specific, as they clarify if you read the article, the DRM itself actually has not be broken but the application code that uses the simple affirmative or negative response from the platform can be re-engineered to essentially ignore the secure check. Each app would then have to be broken in turn but the break would hold for all copies of the cracked version.
  • The RIAA may have hurt its own arguments against innocent infringement
  • RIAA pushing to eliminate DMCA safe harbors
    Mike Masnick at Techdirt does an excellent job digging out what might otherwise be a confusing claim made in the course of this story, that the RIAA doesn’t think the DMCA is working. Clearly, what they think is a failure is the small and flawed free speech safety valve of safe harbors from liability for ISPs. Their reasoning tends to the absurd, that because the trade association cannot monitor enough traffic to reach whatever its current goals are in curbing infringement through DMCA takedown requests, they think the law should be re-written to directly deputize ISPs to do their enforcement work for them.

Security Alerts for the Week Ending 8/15/2010

Security Alerts for Week Ending 8/8/2010

TCLP 2010-08-01 News

This is news cast 220, an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

In the intro, an apology for missing the last two shows, though I had good reason. I will be in San Francisco from August 9th to the 11th for Cassandra Summit and a training day. If anyone is interested in a meet up Monday or Tuesday night, let me know. And if you don’t read the web site, I am a finalist for a Parsec award.

This week’s security alerts are Apple fixes the autofill bug in Safari that I didn’t get to discuss last week and AT&T said it wouldn’t interfere with a Black Hat demo and was true to its word.

In this week’s news EFF wins three DMCA exemptions with deeper analysis from both them and Public Knowledge. There were two additional exemptions granted and many others that were not. I get why most of the coverage is so positive but I cannot help but give voice to my inner cynic. Also, the Senate prepares privacy legislation as industry discusses self regulation, a couple of stories about e-books in developing nations, and Slashdot is losing relevance on the social web.

Following up this week Al Franken frames net neutrality as key free speech issue and Canadian C-32 is clearly following the US DMCA.

[display_podcast]

View the detailed show notes online. You can also grab the flac encoded audio from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Forced Ads in a Proper OS? Unlikely

Slashdot is one of many sources covering an expansion on one of Apple’s existing patents, ones that telling seems to use OS X screen shots to show how viewing of advertisements is tied to disabling of features, the presumption being they would form a sort of unskippable and hence highly lucrative channel for pushing sponsored messages.

Personally, I think this has more to do with Apple’s new mobile advertising platform. For Mac OS X, it makes far less sense. The availability of substitute goods without forced ads is too great and the switching cost is much lower than with a smart phone where you have to contend with termination fees and potentially incompatible carrier data networks.

Besides, hasn’t some form of this rumor already made the rounds?

If Apple wanted to ensure a solid exodus from their non-mobile, non-appliance products, the surest way to do it would be to tying accessing basic features of your Mac to spending attention on ads. Maybe if Apple is looking to divest itself of the Mac, then they would pursue such a scheme.