Apple's Insistence On DRM And Other Restrictions Means EFF's New App Is Android-Only

from the eff-your-walled-garden dept

The EFF has produced a new mobile app that allows users to access its alert center and instantly take action on issues pertaining to digital rights and other areas the group focuses on. And, it’s Android-only, because the EFF took a long look at Apple’s walled garden and said, “Include us out.”

Sadly, though, we had to leave out Apple devices and the folks who use them. Why? Because we could not agree to the outrageous terms in Apple’s Developer Agreement and Apple’s DRM requirements.

What specifically bothers the EFF about Apple’s Developer Agreement? Well, how about the fact that you can’t talk about the agreement? The agreement forbids “public statements” about a public document.

Apple also bans reverse engineering, prevents rejected apps developed with its development kit from being distributed by competing app stores and forbids jailbreaking of its devices. The EFF would prefer more open platforms, hence its decision to bypass Apple and its defensive perimeter.

Going beyond Apple’s tight control of apps and its app store, there’s the problem with the company’s insistence on saddling software with some form of DRM. For a company that fought off the major labels’ insistence that iTunes include DRM in its offerings, it seems rather hypocritical that it insist others do the very thing it refused to do for others.

As of now, the app is still in its infancy. There’s not much to do with it (at least not until the next alert rolls through the system) other than install it and recommend it to others. But the EFF is seeking input both on features and design (contact and has made the code available for forking at Github.

Apple obviously loses nothing but a bit of its reputation by EFF’s shunning. But the EFF is still pushing to make the Apple App Store a better environment for all developers.

We’re inaugurating our new mobile app with a suitable campaign: a petition calling on Apple to change its Developer Agreement to respect the privacy and innovation rights of developers. Add your signature today to stand up for free speech and oppose DRM.

Apple’s tight control does more damage to its reputation than any rogue app that sneaks past its controls. It has played the villain in the past, booting controversial apps and exposing itself as a guardian of nothing more than the safe and inoffensive. It has also deployed its developer agreement inconsistently, making navigating its lists of “don’ts” an aggravating exercise in minefield tiptoeing. And that’s when it’s not booting apps simply because they might jeopardize the home team’s offerings.

Its similar control of its devices is starting to work against it, as a recently-filed class action lawsuit over its internal storage claims makes clear. When you can’t add removable memory or swap out the internal storage for something bigger, you’re forced to rely on the manufacturer’s claims of how much room is actually available on your phone. And once you’ve preloaded everything Apple wants you to have on your iPhone, you’re left with far less than the 8/16/32GB printed on the outside of the box. (Apple’s software will “helpfully” suggest your purchase some iCloud storage when your phone nears capacity.)

Walled gardens are the antipathy of the open internet and free speech, as the EFF points out. So, as long as Apple wants to force developers to play nice with a long list of limitations, the EFF will be having no part of it.

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Companies: apple, eff

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Comments on “Apple's Insistence On DRM And Other Restrictions Means EFF's New App Is Android-Only”

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anjurk says:

Re: Re:

They were very innovative and used their power to capture a market , for a short time anyways, and mold it as they wanted, ignoring the cries of despair from their customers.

Now there are real alternative in Windows tablets and Apple has been sent out running into the wild to search for something else they can spring on the market.

Sad really as Apple devices are great at what they do, when they allow you to do it. But Microsoft has been waiting in the wings and is about to show Google and Apple how it is done and how to take a market from the competition.

I would bet 1 billion dollars right now that within the next two years not only will Apple be irrelevant but so will Android, hopefully not too irrelevant but they will both i believe struggle to own even 40% of the market of tablets between them.

I hope Microsoft is not too vicious and does not spill too much blood, it is great to have competition and Microsoft above all others should know that.

New Mexico Mark says:

Re: Re: Re:

Voted as funny!

Even if you were actually serious about this and even if Microsoft somehow dominates again, they would still be evil, so their customers would still lose.

The biggest thing Microsoft has going for them is inertia and people’s aversion to change. Trotting out even mediocre “solutions” will help them keep (or re-win) many of their customers.

The “competition” is for various corporate overlords to bring the most serfs into their fiefdom and lock them in with just enough cloud storage and proprietary methods/standards to make it more painful to switch than continue to pay.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well that loss is entirely in the eye of the beholder. MS has been traditionally more open than MAC, it is what has consistently keep MS afloat compared to all of the other OS’s. Open enough but also easily usable enough for people to get things done without having to sacrifice a goat or a small pile of cash.

Linux would have trounced them all were it not for the trifecta of… the idiot stuck-up Linux community, Patent/Copyright law (#1 problem), and the average stupidity of the consumer market.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I hope Microsoft is not too vicious and does not spill too much blood

Their mobile blood has been spilled with the Windows 8 failure. First they’ll need some transfusion I’m afraid.

Anyway, marked as funny. I honestly don’t see Microsoft dominating the market unless they make their system free for all (I was gonna say open too but the word refused to be typed in that context).

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I agree, although I think they’d have a rough time dominating the market even if they make their system free. At this point, all of the momentum in terms of application availability and what end users have invested in (in terms of both money and reliance on particular apps) belongs to iOS and Android. There’s isn’t a compelling reason for people to switch from those to a Winphone.

Groaker (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Since the early 80’s I have become rather anti-apple. They are no longer particularly innovative, they are overpriced. This is the result of changes in the proprietary nature of hardware and software. The Apple ][ was a good deal because anyone could create hardware and software for it. That is no longer true.

MS is even worse. Totally non-innovative except for selecting companies to buy and copy from. It used to take a half hour to compile and link an MS program that was done in less than a second by Borland. It was only then that MS “discovered” that was possible and copied the capability.

Computers are in the midst of a new revolution, and neither MS nor Apple are paying attention.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“nowadays I see no difference between them and the other manufacturers”

What you’re just now noticing has been the situation with Apple since the very first Macintosh was released. Since about that time, Apple has been a pretty nasty company. I’ve long said that in terms of corporate behavior, the only real difference between Apple and Microsoft is that Apple has a much smaller marketshare.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

My cousin has an iPhone and recommended that my grandma get an iPad and later an IPad2 and she gave her old iPad 1 to my mom. They are tech illiterate and I cringe at the fact that they think Apple products are superior. I tried to talk my cousin out of thinking Apple products are somehow better than android but it’s useless. If I ask him why does he recommend iPad and iPhone vs Android his answer is simply ‘because iPad is better’. Try to explain to him screen and camera resolution comparisons for the same price, specs, etc… and I’m just wasting my time. My brother and I are both much more tech literate and we both have Androids.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

One thing Apple is good: they are extremely idiot-proof and easy to use. I wouldn’t try to convince any tech-illiterate to use Android if they wanted Apple unless they asked me for my ideas. In that case I’d explain my reasons why I think Android devices are better and let the decision to the person. Most of the times I was asked I managed to get the person to buy Android.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“they are extremely idiot-proof and easy to use.”

I have more problems dealing with their Apple problems than with Android. Maybe it’s because I’m a lot more familiar with Android.

Apple has facetime and it doesn’t exist on Android and so it can’t be used to talk to an Android device. So to get Apple products to talk to Android products and explain why they don’t work unless you use third party software is a pain.

My grandma forgot her password for her apple account and so we put her new iPad under someone else’s. I still have all sorts of problems getting facetime to work between the two iPads and others that have facetime for some reason, either due to account conflicts or whatever.

Many of the apps on my mom’s iPad are still registered with my grandma’s email. I updated my mom’s iPad to her email but whenever you update an app that has never been updated under the new account you must first uninstall the app and reinstall it before you can provide the password to my mom’s account and update. After uninstalling Magicjack to reinstall an update and I enter my mom’s Magicjack credentials it balks and says that this account isn’t compatible with her device or something. I tried going to the website and Googling how to fix it but so far no luck, it’s such a hassle.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“I have more problems dealing with their Apple problems than with Android.”

Me too. This also applies to OSX — it can be downright painful.

The notion that Apple’s OSes are easier to use than others is fallacious. What is true is that the OS you are used to using is the one that is easier for you to use. If you’ve never used an OS before in your life, both iOS and Android are about equally baffling.

Cdaragorn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Not the only problems with the Dev Agreement

Go back and read the comment a little more carefully. He didn’t say anything about open source apps.

He said you’re not allowed to use the same code for the apple version of your app that you have in any other version.

Sadly, this matches their attitude toward desktop apps. They do everything they can to stop you from doing basic things like creating a window. They are VERY unfriendly towards developers.

Anonymous Coward says:


yeah… if you believe that I have some swamp land in Florida I can sell you, and a bridge in N.Y. that I can lease you.

But seriously, Microsoft is having a hard time selling Windows 8, 8.1 and Windows Phone 8, what makes you think in 2 years they will be the dominate player? Certainly not their OS and that’s the only thing they have going for them. yes their tablets are doing well but that does not equal them being the big player in 2 years time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: anjurk

I could see Microsoft having to continue to support Windows Vista and Windows 7, with support for them to end in 2017 and 2020 respectively.

Hell, Windows XP was supported into 2014, and XP was released in late 2001. For any Windows version to be supported for nearly 12 1/2 years is highly unusual, being that 95 was only supported for about 7 years.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: anjurk

In defense of Microsoft (what little defense there is), Windows 10 is looking like what Windows 8 was suppose to be. And that would fit since Windows 7 is what Windows Vista was suppose to be. If Microsoft has any chance at gaining back the mobile market, it will be with Windows 10.

Do I think it’s going to happen? No, but it is their best chance.

MetalSamurai says:

Some corrections

EFF have described their objection as one to DRM. What Apple actally enforce is digital *signing*. That means every app you install is the one the developer shipped, guaranteed. It’s not a Trojan, hasn’t been infected with a virus or modified in any way. If it does ever turn out to be malicious in any way the developer that signed it can be traced immediately. EFF are asking for the same thing the likes of Symantec and Kaspersky have been begging for for years – for Apple to open up a festering wound in their security to allow anti virus pedlars to sell you a lifetime subscription to their magic ointment. If you destroy the sandboxing and digital signature arrangement in place you end up in the nightmare world of malware that has plagued Windows and Android.

Also the Consumers Association “Which?” have tested the capacity claims of all the smartphone vendors and Apple’s iOS leaves the most free space for users (by a huge margin over the likes of Samsung and Microsoft). And iOS 8 actually reduced the OS footprint over iOS 7. That lawsuit is totally groundless.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Some corrections

“Also the Consumers Association “Which?” have tested the capacity claims of all the smartphone vendors and Apple’s iOS leaves the most free space for users (by a huge margin over the likes of Samsung and Microsoft)”

Except you can stick an SD card (32GB for $20) into the majority of Android phones and completely wipe the floor with Apple. M$ phones aren’t even worth discussing as nobody uses them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Some corrections

I never said that every android phone has an SD slot.

I’m running Android Kitkat and I can store app data directly on the SD card along with most other stuff. The new android version (Lollipop) promises greater app SD access and also allows you to install apps directly to the SD card (this sounds more like the SD abilities are increasing with each release?).

Obviously you are sore because you have a crippled apple product which is full.

Anonymous Coward says:

Free your android

You know, the Android agreement isn’t that rosy either.

There was a great option to distribute the app themselves or in a hosted F-Droid repo, and the EFF missed it. Releasing binaries exclusively in walled garden environments helps keep average people locked into systems that surveill by default.

More and more people are realizing you don’t need Google in your Android.

Anonymous Coward says:

Google terms?

Does Google impose any similar terms, e.g. requiring users not to reverse-engineer applications? The EFF application’s download page on Google Play does appear to have some terms and conditions too, but the page is showing up in Czech or something (with no visible option to switch languages) so I can’t really tell. There’s no obvious link to a downloadable file either. I’m surprised the EFF linked to that page and doesn’t seem to have any self-hosted version.

Anonymous Coward says:

Grammar Nazi strikes again!

> Walled gardens are the antipathy of the open internet and free speech

Walled gardens may be antithetical to the EFF (and many of the rest of us. The EFF even has antipathy towards them. Walled gardens and free speech are antipodes.

The EFF is definitely promoting anticontrol in the industry. But all of this could be anticipated. Indeed, it is anticlimactic once you download the app.

I hope this message helps serve as an antidote to antiquated vocabulary faults. An antigen, as it were.

Patty Enrado says:

Looks like EFF is bringing out their frustration

I have been following TechDirt for some good time. To me this post looks like EFF is bringing out their frustration that their app is not accepted over AppStore. They know the reason, yet complaining.
Apple have not changed their guidelines, they are the same. Whole of world knows that Apple is strict with their guidelines, the problem is from your development team side. Say I am working in a company that offer iPhone app development services, we build apps keeping guidelines in mind. If the app isn’t approved, its our fault, because we are not following the guidelines.
I can give hundreds of example when tech-giants are blamed, and we are the culprit.

Astrol App (profile) says:

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