Fear And Loathing In the App Store 9 - The EFF Refuses Apple's Conditions
Written by Lucy Black   
Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The EFF has recently made it clear that Android is OK but iOS is just a step too far. It really, really, really doesn't like the conditions and argues that neither should you.



The current way we program reminds me a lot of a chapter of Watership Down where the heroes, rabbits if you recall, find their way into  new warren where things are very different. Everyone is well fed and happy and the food seems to be supplied by the helpful farmer - of course every now and again a rabbit goes missing...

App stores are like that, but we, like the rabbits put up with it for the sake of the good life. We swap our freedom to graze for the control imposed by the app store bosses. And most would agree that there is no more controlling and authoritarian boss than Apple. Some think that this is the best of all possible worlds because Apple's control provides a better product. Others recognize what freedoms they are giving up and just put up with it for the healthy cash flow. 

You would expect the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is dedicated to "defending your rights in a digital world" to be a bit unhappy about Apple's conditions for accepting an app, but perhaps not to the extent of not producing an iOS version of it new app. This alerts users to protest when digital rights are being threatened, is only available on Android because of Apple's DRM requirements. 

The best way of explaining is to let the EFF speak for itself:

As we have been saying for years now, the Developer Agreement is bad for developers and users alike. Here are a few of the terms that we are worried about:

Ban on Public Statements: Section 10.4 prohibits developers from making any "public statements" about the terms of the Agreement. This is particularly strange, since the Agreement itself is not "Apple Confidential Information" as defined in Section 10.1. So the terms are not confidential, but developers are contractually forbidden from speaking "publicly" about them.

Ban on Reverse Engineering: Section 2.6 prohibits any reverse engineering (including the kinds of reverse engineering for interoperability that courts have recognized as a fair use under copyright law), as well as anything that would "enable others" to reverse engineer, the software development kit (SDK) or iPhone OS.

App Store Only: Section 7.3 makes it clear that any applications developed using Apple's SDK may only be publicly distributed through the App Store, and that Apple can reject an app for any reason, even if it meets all the formal requirements disclosed by Apple. So if you use the SDK and your app is rejected by Apple, you're prohibited from distributing it through competing app stores like Cydia.

No Tinkering with Any Apple Products: Section 3.2(e) is the "ban on jailbreaking" provision that appears to prohibit developers from tinkering with any Apple software or technology, not just the iPhone, or "enabling others to do so."

Apple Owns Your Security: Section 6.1 explains that Apple has to approve any bug fixes or security releases. If Apple does not approve such updates very quickly, this requirement could put many people in jeopardy.

Kill Your App Any Time: Section 8 makes it clear that Apple can "revoke the digital certificate of any of Your Applications at any time." Steve Jobs once confirmed that Apple can remotely disable apps, even after they have been installed by users. This contract provision would appear to allow that.

These are the conditions, together with some others, that have been worrying lots of programmers and we generally accept them because - well - it won't happen to us will it. This is exactly like the rabbits eating the farmer's supplied food because the rabbit in the pot isn't likely to be them. 

As the EFF concludes:

“Developers should demand better terms and customers who love their iPhones should back them.

At EFF, we walk our talk. We will not agree to contract terms that we couldn’t endorse for others, and we certainly will not wrap our app in DRM."

There is a petition if you want to see if you can influence Apple - you won't of course and I doubt that Apple is worried by the EFF not producing its app for iOS. They probably wouldn't have approved it anyway.


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