You might not have noticed but iOS7 hasn't been compromised in quite the same way as earlier version of the OS. Now there is a small, but growing, prize to encourage an open source jailbreak.
iOS is locked down so that users can't install any app they feel like, only the Apps that Apple approve of. Jailbreaking gives you root access to the operating system - something that we used to think was a right that every programmer and user could count on. After all you bought the hardware, didn't you?
For iOS7 there is currently no universal open source untethered jailbreak that works on a range of hardware. There are a few that work with older phones and one that is available as a paid for service. The well known jailbreaking software, e.g. evasiOn, are mostly promising a "coming soon" feature.
The new prize is for an open source jailbreak that has to meet a list of requirements:
- Work for iPhones (including 4S, 5, 5c, 5s) running iOS 7.
- Support the latest current version of iOS (7.04).
- Be untethered and accessible to the average user.
- Be publicly released and available free of charge.
- Be released under one of the OSI-approved licenses.
The website also states in a very definite way that currently an iOS 7 jailbreak doesn't exist, which some might take issue with. What is clear is that a jailbreak meeting the stated, and very desirable, requirements doesn't exist.
There are a few problems with creating a jailbreak program. The first is that in many countries jailbreaking is probably illegal, although currently the law is mostly untested. A bigger problem is that each time the OS is cracked Apple moves to create an update which makes it secure again.
So offering a prize is a good idea but one that might have to be repeated at regular intervals.
The prize is backed by a panel of judges including the well known DMCA activist, Cory Doctorow; the founder of iFixit, Kyle Wiens; Biella Coleman, author of Coding Freedom; and the proposer of the prize, Chris Maury.
The stated reason for the prize is:
"We strongly believe that users should have the freedom to control their devices. We wanted an open source jailbreak for iOS 7, giving users the capability to install what they want on their own devices and the ability to audit the code they're using to do so. Jailbreaking is also critical to ensuring that the disabled are able to use their mobile devices as easily as possible. So we started a prize for the first people who can do it."
If no one claims the prize in 18 months then the donations will be returned. Any winner will get 90% of the dontations with 10% going to admin and a small donation to the EFF.
Currently the fund stands at around $2000 from 60 donors. You can donate using credit card or, predictably, Bitcoin.
This is a great idea and let's hope it reaches a large enough amount to be a motivation - although in the past money doesn't seem to have played much part in the majority of jailbreaks.