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Electronic Frontier Foundation skips iOS version of smartphone app
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Jan 8, 2015, 02:02 AM
 
Internet advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released a new app today, allowing Android users an easy way to access its action center and get involved. As part of the announcement, the organization explained there would not be a similar app for iOS, citing issues with the Apple developer agreement. Some elements of the disputed agreement have been around since 2010.



The EFF's issues with the standard Apple developer agreement start with a complaint about Section 10.4, which the groups says bans developers from making public statements about the contract -- in spite of the fact that the document is does not fall under "Apple Confidential Information" (as defined in Section 10.1). If a developer is having an issue with their app as a result of something in the agreement, they are contractually obligated not to explain the situation to their customers.

The EFF also believes Sections 6.1, 7.7, and 8 hinder developers from protecting their users, and controlling their own products. Section 6.1 states that any patches or bug fixes to an app must be approved by Apple. The group says this creates an issue in which a security update could be required, and if Apple is unable to approve the update in a timely manner (say, over the Christmas break), users' security could be put at risk.

It is worth noting that no situation like the one imagined by the EFF has come up with the exception of Apple's own iOS updates, and that the company has a track record of being responsive to app security updates. It should also be mentioned that if Apple were to remove Section 6.1 and relinquish approval of patches, it would create a situation where malware or spyware could easily be introduced, as often happens on the Android platform.

Section 8 indicates that Apple can "revoke the digital certificate of any application at any time." Back in 2008, Steve Jobs confirmed this "kill switch" will allow Apple to delete apps already installed on devices, saying it only be used as a last resort for a security issue. It has never been used.

Section 7.3 locks the developer into distributing their iOS app through the iTunes store, so if a developer uses Apple's SDK to develop their app (as they do), and Apple either rejects it or takes a long time to approve it, the developer is unable to distribute it on alternative sources such as Cydia. This again can be interpreted as being in the users' best interests, since malware can and has been introduced through unofficial app stores. It is also true that iOS apps can be developed without using Apple's SDK.

More information about the EFF's issues with the Apple Developer's Agreement here.
     
nowwhatareyoulookingat
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Jan 8, 2015, 02:33 AM
 
"It is worth noting that no situation like the one imagined by the EFF has come up with the exception of Apple's own iOS updates, and that the company has a track record of being responsive to app security updates."

Given that developers are legally obliged NOT to tell anybody if this happens, it is currently unknown if and/or how often events such as the EFF has posited have happened.

"It has never been used."
Again, it is unknown if the capability has been used. It could have been for an app that saw very little distribution, and the few users that had the app removed just thought something went wrong with their iOS device, as Apple hasn't specified that there would be any formal notification that they decided to remove an app from end-user's devices.
     
msuper69
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Jan 8, 2015, 02:36 AM
 
Apple will NEVER allow for app updates outside of the App Store.
NEVER EVER!
Can't wait for someone to send out a malicious update to this app.
     
DarelRex
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Jan 8, 2015, 10:22 AM
 
EFF: Apple "prohibits any reverse engineering (including the kinds of reverse engineering for interoperability that courts have recognized as a fair use under copyright law)".

That's right: There's no law that says you can't drive 60mph in a Walmart parking lot, but — surprise, surprise — Walmart will make you leave if you insist on doing that! OMG, our freedom is under ATTACK by big, bad corporations!! Heaven help us.

Methinks EFF is run by people who fondly remember the wild-west days of late-'70s home computing, when you had total control over the entire computer (and all the apps that anyone was chump enough to write for it).

Bad news, EFF: The wild-west was fun for some, but now it's over.

Good news, EFF: You can now write a quality app and actually make lots of money selling it to end-users! (Yes, you only get 70% of revenues, but back in the day, you were very lucky to get 30%!)

Bad news, EFF: This "EFF" app you just wrote (for Android) is about as close as you guys are ever going to come to writing an app than anyone actually wants to use. By which I mean: not very close.

Have fun stewing in your own private hell, guys. What else is this world for.
     
mgpalma
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Jan 8, 2015, 12:51 PM
 
In other words, you do not want to offer an easy way to notify hundreds of millions of users to help your cause?

Brilliant business model.
-
Michael
     
DiabloConQueso
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Jan 8, 2015, 09:43 PM
 
EFF needs to change just about every occurrence of "can't" with "won't" in their diatribe. Hyperbolic statements about fabricated barriers don't help their cause.
     
   
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