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 firstname.lastname@example.org) 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
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.