Monday, July 26, 2010


Gov't: Jailbreaking iPhones Now Legal

For the first time this year the government has done something I agree with, but not surprisingly this has not come from Soetoro, nor the House nor Senate, but from the Library of Congress. I guess I didn't know that they were in charge of establishing copyright rules, but they have ruled that it does not violate Apple's copyrights for users to "jailbreak" their iPhones and iPod Touch units, i.e. alter the devices' firmware code to allow non-Apple-approved apps to run.

I agree with this because the iPhone and iPod Touch are essentially tiny, general-purpose computers but with standard Apple firmware from the factory, you are limited to downloading and running only those apps of which the company approves. If you own a Macintosh, download their Software Development Kit and have advanced programming skills, you can create your own apps, but other than that, the only other way to get apps with an unmodified iPhone or iPod is to go through the official Apple App Store. Thus, Apple has de facto control of what you can use your device to do.

In effect this gave them censorship power over their customers. Steve Jobs ordered thousands of apps removed from his Store a few months back, claiming that he did not want any porn to be available on his creations. Which is ridiculous, because there are countless porn sites available for browsing using iPhone's built-in Safari web browser, and there is a whole separate category of porn sites specifically designed for the Apple devices. So Jobs' argument was a red herring -- he simply wanted an excuse for censorship which sounded moral and would establish precedent for him disappearing other apps in the future of which he will not approve.

Most advanced users already had their Apples jailbroken, but now it's legal. Ads are all over Craigslist for people who will do it for you for $15 or so. There are other advantages to having a "broken" iPhone or iPod -- you get out from under Jobs' arbitrary limit of 11 pages of apps, for example. My iPod's memory is only about 2/3 full and it could store hundreds of more free apps, but I can't have any more on the thing because Jobs decided that no one needs more than 11 pages. Now that it's legal I think I'll back the thing up on my PC's hard drive, find a nearby jailer, and have my iPod broken. Thank you, Library of Congress.

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