Defective by Design

New iPhones put more polish on Apple's restrictions

Submitted by William Theaker on Tue, 2013-09-10 10:24

The announcement of Apple's new iPhone releases marks yet another highly anticipated product launch from the technology giant. As expected, the new iPhones will be faster, more powerful, and continue to hide the various anti-user restrictions behind a sleek and seductive user interface. Each release of a product or operating system from Apple means the latest and greatest they have to offer, including the strongest Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) technologies yet.

The beauty of Apple products is how cleverly they use smooth curves and a shiny design to lock users into an experience controlled by a single corporation. The inner workings (or non-workings as the case may be) of its operating system, the availability of applications, and the low-level control over hardware are all hidden away from the public and tightly secured by Apple.

As with previous iPhones, apps and devices come with a kill switch, third party peripherals are arbitrarily restricted, books and other media purchased from iTunes come with DRM, and all software must be cryptographically signed and approved by Apple. The iPhone 5s and 5c succeed in leaving their users at the mercy of Apple.

The most anticipated new feature of the iPhone 5s is the inclusion of a new fingerprint scanner, which is advertised as an enhanced security feature tacked onto a software platform that lacks transparency, accountability, and is inherently untrustworthy.

Rather than improving privacy and security, by encouraging users of the latest incarnations of the iPhone to use their fingerprints to unlock their device, Apple invites the possibility of verifying biometrically exactly who used an iPhone and at what time.

We have seen Apple grow to more and more effectively lock down their hardware and software platforms, and in turn, lock in their users. Would-be Apple customers should be warned about the dangers Apple products create, and informed about the alternatives, workarounds, and ways to resist Apple's control. We invite anti-DRM activists to visit the Free Software Foundation's iPhone action page and send an email to Apple CEO Tim Cook letting him know that you won't buy an iOS device because of its proprietary software and DRM. Once you've done that, look into ways to use mobile devices without surrendering your freedom, such as Replicant and F-Droid.

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