Is Apple Suggesting That The DMCA Prevents Terrorism?

from the yeah,-that's-believable dept

The EFF is trying to get a DMCA exemption from the Library of Congress for people who jailbreak their iPhones (if history is any indication, this won't happen -- the Library of Congress never seems to care about consumer rights). However, Apple's response to the Library of Congress, suggesting that open or jailbroken iPhones could be used by terrorists to bring down cell towers is both preposterous and totally unrelated to the issue at hand. First it's preposterous, as there are plenty of "open" devices out there already, and there has yet to be a single report of anyone taking down a cell tower with their mobile phone.

But, much more to the point: the point of copyright is not to protect us from terrorists taking down cell towers. If we, as a country, are relying on the DMCA to protect us from terrorists who don't want us making phone calls, we've got bigger problems. Even if it were true that terrorists could take down cell towers with an open mobile phone, does anyone actually think they'd shy away from doing so because it violated the DMCA? It's not like that's going to make much of a difference at all. It's entirely meaningless to the question of whether or not legal buyers of a mobile device should have the right to place whatever legal software they want on the device.


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    Mikey (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 8:34am

    I'm sure all the die hard Apple fans must have some sort of wacky ass defense for this. I wonder how Apple gets so many people to love them so much... especially since they seem to be trying to destroy the open cell phone market by claiming that open phones support terrorism.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 8:38am

    Swiss Cheese Argument Smells like Guda

    If cell towers are taken down, it's not an Apple Problem. It's not even an AT&T or Sprint problem, it's a problem of the third parties who now own most of the towers. (Yes, a great deal of towers are owned/managed by Crown Castle, American Tower or other entities.)

    Besides, this data is available searching the respective websites so they can market space on the towers to other companies. Point is, this is an invalid argument.

    It should be a problem that is so distanced from Apple for them to really care, and I doubt the Tower Management Industry would like Apple poking their nose into their business. A more likely reason for this is that jailbreaking is the result of some other revenue-robbing stream- maybe apps or something. That makes more sense.

     

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      Nick Dynice (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 12:03pm

      Re: Swiss Cheese Argument Smells like Guda

      Aren't jailbroken iPhones usually used on networks other than AT&T? If all this is true, I agree that it would not be soemthing that Apple would care about. Can phones on the Android platform be used to take down towers because they are more open? Doubtful.

       

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    Dave (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 8:52am

    I believe Bill Cosby said it best when he said...

    "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my life! No wonder you get D's in everything!"

     

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    Yakko Warner, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 8:54am

    Laws Protect Us

    If only Congress had passed a law making it illegal to fly a plane into an office building before 9/11, think how many lives would've been spared.</sarc>

    Can we make it a law that any time someone tries to defend a law with "protects us from terrorists", they get shot?

     

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      Spork, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 9:36am

      Re: Laws Protect Us

      Got my vote on that one...let's also add "to protect the children" to the list

       

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 11:14am

      Re: Laws Protect Us

      "If only Congress had passed a law making it illegal to fly a plane into an office building before 9/11, think how many lives would've been spared."

      But then our own government would have been an accessory to breaking that law...

       

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    Anonymous, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 8:55am

    Because Terrorists care about doing what's legal.

     

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    ACalcutt, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 8:55am

    The other comment was more interesting

    I found this comment more interesting

    "Apple also claimed that jailbreaking would pave the way for hackers to alter the Exclusive Chip Identification number that identified the phone to the cell tower, which could enable calls to be made anonymously. Apple said “this would be desirable to drug dealers.”"

    since jailbreaking is already possible, does this mean this "Exclusive Chip Identification number" is already changeable? What does being "Anonymous" actually mean?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 9:23am

      Re: The other comment was more interesting

      Maybe they're worried about firmware updates and/or updates to the PRL. On CDMA, ESNs are hard coded, but PRLs (the list of towers that a provider has) is exclusive to CDMA providers.

      If this is the case, it could confirm they are closing in on a CDMA variation of the iPhone, but remain worried about users re-flashing the PRL so it would work on other CDMA networks.

      Example: Carrier X gets CDMA exclusivity to iPhone CDMA, but Carrier Y has a better rateplan. The phone could possibly be re-flashed to work on Carrier Y, which is more desirable to the end-user. This may cause Carrier X to loose revenue.
      Proposed Fix: Keep people from using Carrier Y via legal manuvering and an exception to DCMA.

       

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    drkkgt (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 8:55am

    well......

    the "we must have the ability to do A, B, C in place" or "we must remove rights D, E, and F from citizens because of the terrorists" has worked so well for the government, I am actually surprised more businesses aren't doing this.

     

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    techflaws.org (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 8:58am

    A different perspective

    Daniel over at RoughlyDrafted has a different take on this story. Just sayin...

     

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      ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 9:29am

      Re: A different perspective

      "Daniel over at RoughlyDrafted has a different take on this story. Just sayin..."

      Dan's a smart guy, and worth reading, but he makes me look like a Bill Gates groupie. Just sayin'.

       

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      pjhenry1216 (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 10:23am

      Re: A different perspective

      His take is blown out of proportion in the complete opposite direction. If jailbreaking an iPhone somehow gives you more access to the phone as opposed to jailbreaking any other phone, then thats problem with the design and needs to be fixed. Security holes should not be plugged by laws, they should be plugged by software fixes. And no, commercial interests can't distribute malicious software and claim protection. If its malicious, they'll still get in trouble.

      Dan's take is actually pretty ridiculous once you stop and think about it. Most of his stuff is sensationalist and he does little to hide his biased against Apple competitors.

       

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        pjhenry1216 (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 10:25am

        Re: Re: A different perspective

        I also enjoy how if anybody ever says something bad about Apple, that entire entity is somehow seen as always bashing Apple and anti-Apple. Wired is historically an Apple supporter and its generally the exception when you see an anti-Apple article in Wired. I guess Apple fans really did find a way to justify Apple's position in this.

         

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    Dan J. (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 9:00am

    Apple's arguments

    Let me start by saying that I don't buy Apple's arguments for a second. It's lame and obviously a scare tactic that Apple is hoping with influence the non-technical members of the committee. That beings said, I think their argument is being somewhat mischaracterized above. Their argument isn't that the DMCA will prevent terrorists from jailbreaking the iPhone. Their argument is that the DMCA will prevent or at least slow down the proliferation of tools that would allow the terrorist to jailbreak iPhones.

    This is pretty silly, since there are already plenty of tools out there to do so, but at least there's a thread of attempted logic there. They aren't claiming that a terrorist is going to say "Gee, I'd like to jailbreak this iPhone and attack a cell tower but the DMCA says I can't, so I guess I won't." They're saying that adding an exemption would make it easier for a terrorist to find the tools to do the jailbreak.

     

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      Ryan, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 9:17am

      Re: Apple's arguments

      thread of attempted logic

      I find it funny that you actually wasted a minute typing up a rationalization for a "thread of attempted logic". I suppose if Apple wanted to take this further, they could try to get the government to outlaw all of its competitors, since any terrorist could buy one of those instead.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 9:21am

      Re: Apple's arguments

      Yea I read that as their argument also, however due to the fact there are so many ways to take down a cell tower in a far more effective manner their statements are rather empty. Hell all of their arguments are automatically trash because someone could just use ANOTHER phone to do everything they suggest. Another phone, while less popular, but is more open, cheaper, and with more horses under the hood (and a crappy GUI but home brew terrorist applications don't need fancy multi touch screens)

       

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    RobC, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 9:19am

    You are off base

    This is totally blown out of proportion and misconstrued. Apple made fairly accurate statements that jailbroken phones may not function properly and can cause issues to OTHER consumers on the network. (page 11, last paragraph).

    With all this crap on "checking your sources" from TechDirt, I hope you do more than just whine. This is a clear case of Wired (and now TechDirt too) hyping something out of proportion. No where in the document does Apple claim threats to national security or some grandiose notional of mass network destruction. In fact, Apple points out the larger monetary affects and burden to existing resources (including tech support, overloaded bandwidth).

    Finally, this is not about "an open phone" being a threat to national security, as this TechDirt article suggests. Apple is indicating that based on it's trusted relationship with AT&T (page 12), compromises to the underlying software may open the network services to a greater threat. Given that Apple uses ECID technology to enforce some services; compromises may affect the compromised phone and in some cases the network.

    Apple's making a pretty clear point that compromises to the OS increases the risk to the phone os and/or other functionality. I think that's kind of obvious; when people hack it, it doesn't work right. Go figure.

    I think this is just Apple's attempt to reduce it's own accountability when jailbroken phones screw something up and people complain.

    So where in this document, not Wired's opinion article but the actual Apple response document, do you see the implication to national security? Where in fact do you see major network or system failures that would ALLUDE to such a conclusion?

     

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      JackSombra (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 9:30am

      Re: You are off base

      "This is totally blown out of proportion and misconstrued. Apple made fairly accurate statements that jailbroken phones may not function properly and can cause issues to OTHER consumers on the network. (page 11, last paragraph)."
      Even that's still an stupid and inaccurate statement, if this was a real issue we would have all the non apple phones (and jail broken iphone) causing problems to the networks for years and guess what? Does not happen

      The whole iPhone lock down is about one thing and one thing only, apple controlling what you can and cannot do with your purchase after the point of sale, anything else is an excuse trying to justify something that non apple product users would find totally unacceptable

       

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    Joshua, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 9:19am

    Both you people and Apple are missing the point...
    When I buy a car is it legal to put a different engine in it?
    Does it matter that with a faster engine i might outrun persuing law enforcement?
    Does it matter that with a larger suspension i might haul a larger bomb somewhere?
    Terrorists sould easily do either of those things...
    I don't see them trying to make it illegal to work on my car? Or do anything i want to it...
    When i buy something i own it... i can cut it into pieces or whatever... it is mine...
    Like a computer... I could load any OS i want... I don't have to use the Windows or whatever it came with... even on an apple!
    What makes the phone any different?
    Besides, If they wanted to hack the cell tower they would use a laptop...

     

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    John Doe, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 9:20am

    Sure it can...

    Don't you know, anything can be justified in the war on terror.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 9:23am

    Apple is soon going to remove the digit 9 from it's phones, because while holding down the 9 on some phones causes it to dial 911, Apple is worried it could instead cause another 9/11.

    More news to follow at 8:58 (can't say nine anymore)

     

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    slacker525600 (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 9:31am

    given the current state of affairs with lawsuits

    apple has to protect its business this way. because people using their phones to commit crimes will point to the phone and say it is apple's fault.

    no matter how ridiculous it is, it is the situation that they are trying to defend against.

     

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      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 11:24am

      Re: given the current state of affairs with lawsuits

      But, since Apple is taking an active roll in trying to prevent terrorist attackers using the iPhone then they are more liable if one douse occur.

       

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    stat_insig (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 10:13am

    Simple logic

    Hackers jailbreak iPhone + Terrorists jailbreak iPhone => Hackers are terrorists.

    You don't get it? Let me give you another example:

    Hitler was a vegetarian + I am vegetarian => I am Hitler!

     

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    Anonymous Hero, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 10:50am

    But...

    BUT... THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 11:19am

    Similar to another argument...

    Apple's logic on this is identical to that of the anti-gun lobby groups. "We need more laws restricting gun ownership!" How about enforcing the laws we already have against murder and assault? Same deal here. Why pass new laws, when we already have laws that would punish a terrorist who attacked our infrastructure?

     

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      Cap'n Jack (profile), Aug 1st, 2009 @ 6:36pm

      Re: Similar to another argument...

      How is this in any way the same thing? It just seems like you're trying to get your own agenda pushed here. Anti-gun lobbyists think there should be stricter laws to prevent gun ownership simply because there is a huge correlation between countries with high gun ownership and homocide rates. Countries with less guns have far less homocides. Not only that, but there is very little indication that guns actually protect the majority of people who own them.

      Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating anything, but don't come out with a total strawman here and think you're clever. Stricter laws against homocides wouldn't work, because the people who commit them are generally not thinking of the consequences. When you decide to take a man's life, you're either being very careful (and then you're probably not using a gun anyway) or you're being reckless in which case very few laws will stop you.

      In addition, you've misunderstood this argument. Apple isn't asking for any new laws to be passed. They're asking for a law currently in place not to have any exemptions in this case.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 12:02pm

    Hopefully the result of this will be a lawsuit against Apple for producing a device that can be used for terrorist purposes!

     

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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 12:05pm

    The Great iPhone by Apple

    and there has yet to be a single report of anyone taking down a cell tower with their mobile phone

    Well, the all powerful and mighty iPhone has this capability. That is why they don't want it allow. =P

     

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    Jason Phillips (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 12:42pm

    Taking down cell towers? Terrorism? Apple needs to reflect on the aftermath of 9/11. Almost instantly the cell networks became useless due to the high volume of calls. If the terrorists wanted to take down the cell towers, all they would need to do these days is pre-empt American Idol.

     

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    Protector, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 2:04pm

    DMCA Protects the Children

    But if someone jailbreaks their iPhone, then they can install applications that aren't Apple approved, and who knows where that could lead? Predators could use unapproved apps to prey on children or obtain child pornography! Think of the children!

     

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    batch, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 5:29pm

    Everyone is missing the point

    Terrorists wouldn't use the iPhone so long as its shackled to that broken pos AT&T network. Apple's point is moot until they switch to a reliable carrier.

     

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    Alan Gerow (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 6:15pm

    Disabling a cell tower and causing the fall of human civilization?

    There's an app for that!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 8:47pm

    I can just imagine the conversation in terrorist cell:

    1: So we are ready to blow up the building?
    2: yes, we have all the explosives. We should be able to bring down the whole building. Many people will be killed.
    1: And guns and ammunition?
    2: Enough to kill any police that may interfere, even SWAT teams.
    1: Good. I will coordinate you with this iPhone I have. Once I jailbreak it, our calls will be untraceable.
    2: NO! Jailbreaking an iPhone is illegal! You will break the DMCA laws! Do you want to get us arrested?

    Yeah right...

     

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    bikey, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 12:52am

    This is not the first time the pro-IP'ers have tried to link terrorism to IP protection and it won't be the last. 'Piracy funds/supports/is terrorism' has been claimed in re everything from fake bags to DVDs to BSA's 'secret' lobbying of the EU Commission for mandatory ISP data retention (in clear violation of EU privacy law). Next?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2009 @ 1:19pm

    Remind me again why the DMCA is even applicable to iPhone jailbreaking? The iPhone DRM in question is there to limit interoperability, not to prevent copying of a copyrighted work. I thought the court decision in Chamberlain v. Skylink had firmly established that the DMCA did not apply to DRM whose sole purpose was to inhibit interoperation between a device and a competitor's device.

    Besides the cited case, which involved garage door openers and interoperable remotes, there have been similar decisions involving printers and interoperable ink cartridges and other product categories. It seems to me that iPhones and non-AT&T cellular carriers, and iPhones and non-iTMS/non-Apple-App-Store music/app stores, are entirely analogous.

     

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    farhan, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 9:41pm

     

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    Frank Hamm, Dec 13th, 2010 @ 2:18am

    http://wlancontroller.com can be used for scanner and access point

     

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