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IPhone unlocker... or terrorist and drug dealer?? Apple claims that iPhone unlocking aids drug dealers and terrorist and could threaten America's cell phone users. It is urging the U.S. government to make it illegal and punishable. The EFF calls these claims FUD.  (Source:
Apple says terrorists could use iPhones to attack cell phone towers

Apple has tried everything to stop iPhone unlockers.  Bricking iPhones didn't work -- it just generated more headaches and bad PR.  Apple's internal protection technology turned out to be just as weak and poorly implemented as its consumer security on the iPhone -- the hackers quickly overcame the latest protections Apple threw at them.  Now with its shiny new iPhone 3G S becoming yet the latest handset to be freed, Apple has turned to none other than the U.S. government for help.

The company has submit a report to the U.S. Copyright Office suggesting that iPhone unlocking be outlawed (and jailbreaking from the AT&T network, essentially as well as it would be impossible without unlocking) as Apple claims it threatens cell phone towers across America.  Apple claims that unlocking the iPhone provides easy access to the iPhone’s BBP — the “baseband processor” software, which enables a connection to cell phone towers.

According to Apple, the BBP could then be exploited by "a local or international hacker could potentially initiate commands (such as a denial of service attack) that could crash the tower software, rendering the tower entirely inoperable to process calls or transmit data."

States Apple, "Taking control of the BBP software would be much the equivalent of getting inside the firewall of a corporate computer — to potentially catastrophic result.  The technological protection measures were designed into the iPhone precisely to prevent these kinds of pernicious activities, and if granted, the jailbreaking exemption would open the door to them."

Currently, iPhone unlocking falls under a legal gray zone.  The comments by Apple come in response to an ongoing request by the Electronic Frontier Foundation to legalize the widespread practice of unlocking.  Apple wants to push it in the other direction make unlocking and jailbreaking the phone illegal.

Fred von Lohmann, the EFF attorney in charge of the EFF request mocked Apple's filing openly, calling its claims "preposterous".  He says that there's an estimated 1 million unlocked iPhones operating in the U.S. and that they have posed no threat thus far.  He states, "As far as I know, nothing like that has ever happened.  This kind of theoretical threat is more FUD than truth."

Apple also claims that unlocking and jailbreaking also could be used to enable the alteration of the Exclusive Chip Identification number, allowing for anonymous phone calls.  States Apple, "This would be desirable to drug dealers."

Unlocking the iPhone may currently be banned under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, which states that "no person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title."

However, citizen requests, such as the EFF filing, must be considered for exemption every three years.  The Librarian of Congress and the Copyright Office is tasked with that responsibility.

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Is the iPhone really that dangerous?
By borrowAndWaste on 7/29/2009 4:15:19 PM , Rating: 5
Is the iPhone really that dangerous? If so why not just ban it completely.

Changing the DMCA exemption only discourages people who are afraid of breaking laws from jailbreaking their iPhone. If this threat was real, terrorists and drug dealers would have much more serious criminal prosecution to worry about than the civil prosecution for DRM circumvention.

It sounds like Apple is making the case for the iPhone to be pulled from the shelves and recalled.

RE: Is the iPhone really that dangerous?
By mfed3 on 7/29/2009 4:36:59 PM , Rating: 5
agreed. ban the god damn thing once and for all and we'll have no more conflict and flame wars on this site.

RE: Is the iPhone really that dangerous?
By erikejw on 7/29/2009 5:47:58 PM , Rating: 5
If they are so afraid of terrorists an even safer action from the government would be to ban the iPhone altogether, guess Apple didn't think of that one ;)

RE: Is the iPhone really that dangerous?
By knutjb on 7/29/2009 10:36:23 PM , Rating: 5
Does Apple realize how stupid they look right now? Hey we created the best thing since slice bread, ooops, it has a major security flaw that's easily exploited so lets go public and write a law!

Apple needs to get real. Those blatantly breaking laws like terrorist and drug dealers won't stop just because the feds say do that and you might get fined, I'm shaking at the thought...

Hmmm... wonder if Palm has the same problem or did they maintain control of their ego?

I don't care, for me, that's too much money for a phone and service.

RE: Is the iPhone really that dangerous?
By Lifted on 7/30/2009 4:38:10 AM , Rating: 5
Jobs: People, get your thinking apples on! How can we distract people from this whole China "issue"?

Jobs Drone 1: Penalize Foxconn or even source the iPhone to another OEM?

Jobs: You're fired! Next!

Jobs Drone 2: Terrorism?

Jobs: Genius!

RE: Is the iPhone really that dangerous?
By erikejw on 7/30/09, Rating: 0
By paydirt on 8/3/2009 4:36:52 PM , Rating: 2
I'd like to thank Apple for giving ideas to terrorists. I'd also like to thank Apple for broken software.

By dark matter on 7/30/2009 11:16:18 AM , Rating: 5
Exactly. Apple have just scored an almighty own goal here.

I can just here the terrorists now.

Mohammed: Shit Ahmed
Ahmed: Whats that Mohammed.
Mohammed: We're screwed.
Ahmed: Why, have they found our stash of AK-47's?
Mohammed: No
Ahmed: Have they found our RPG's?
Mohammed: No
Ahmed: Have they discovered our plans for poisoning the water supplies off New York?
Mohammed: Thankfully, No
Ahmed: Nooo, they have discovered our nuclear bomb haven't they Mohammed, they have found it before we had time to kill millions
Mohammed: No Ahmed, they have not. But we had better stop what we are doing this instant.
Ahmed: Why?
Mohammed: They have just passed a law making it illegal to hack an iPhone!
Ahmed: Noooooooooooooooooooooo!

By themaster08 on 7/30/2009 12:06:01 PM , Rating: 3
I'm just miffed that Apple didn't catch on to the unusually large order of iPhones to Afghanistan.

By 41A on 8/17/2009 3:05:49 PM , Rating: 2
Ban the iPhone... ban pencils and paper and stamps... shutdown the Post Office... tv and radio... ban speech...

RE: Is the iPhone really that dangerous?
By sprockkets on 7/30/2009 1:11:32 AM , Rating: 5
but pirks would die :(

RE: Is the iPhone really that dangerous?
By ipay on 7/30/2009 5:24:04 PM , Rating: 3
How is that a bad thing? Do you mourn for a monkey that threw sh!t at people when it was alive?

By sprockkets on 7/30/2009 9:18:12 PM , Rating: 2
What? You don't get a kick out of dumb and dumber duking it out? Who would we down rate on a consistent basis? This place would get boring.

RE: Is the iPhone really that dangerous?
By Sazar on 7/29/2009 4:43:56 PM , Rating: 5
Is the iPhone really that dangerous?

Considering all the recent articles about overheating and exploding Apple mobile devices and the subsequent cover-ups and so forth, yes, they really are dangerous.

RE: Is the iPhone really that dangerous?
By MonkeyPaw on 7/29/2009 5:48:16 PM , Rating: 4
Actually, a Mac saved humanity from the aliens in "Independence Day," so yes, we should all be very concerned!

By SavagePotato on 8/1/2009 2:13:21 PM , Rating: 2
Now see that was the most un realistic thing about independence day.

If it were an Intel machine I could have at least thought hmm yeah Intel probably strongarmed the aliens into using their products through monopoly tactics.

But there is no goddamn way intergalactic space aliens bent on domination are using macs.

RE: Is the iPhone really that dangerous?
By dice1111 on 7/29/2009 4:49:30 PM , Rating: 2
As much as I love my iPhone, I would love this irony even more! Well put.

By Sazar on 7/29/2009 5:23:14 PM , Rating: 2
Yep ;)

Love my iPhone. Definitely don't see a need to defend it like this :D

If someone wants to jailbreak, they will do so.

RE: Is the iPhone really that dangerous?
By ViRGE on 7/29/09, Rating: -1
By wifiwolf on 7/29/2009 5:10:39 PM , Rating: 3
They are arguing that Iphone particularly can be used for that measure more than others, so teht's a flaw in their design. If it's just iphone than they have nothing be whining about.

RE: Is the iPhone really that dangerous?
By n00bxqb on 7/29/2009 8:34:59 PM , Rating: 5
Basically, it's the typical Apple scenario of, "We have the #1 selling product in its category, billions of dollars in open funds, the self-proclaimed greatest software and hardware engineers on the planet, but we don't want to admit that we suck at securing our product, so we'll exaggerate a potential, albeit highly unlikely, outcome in hopes of covering up our lack of ability/willingness to make our product better."

Yeah, sounds like Apple.

RE: Is the iPhone really that dangerous?
By ViRGE on 7/30/2009 5:34:43 AM , Rating: 2
There's nothing really "insecure" about the iPhone. Both the primary CPU and the Baseband have rather strong security - easily as good as anyone else's. Plus you have to keep in mind that the baseband isn't even made by Apple, it's an X-Gold 608/618 made by Infineon. The X-Gold series are in a number of other phones too, and the firmware is generally the same other than some minor customizations for each OEM.

Meanwhile the jailbreak and baseband unlock for the iPhone 3GS is really, really beautiful. The iPhone Dev Team found a crazy sequence of events and made them work as an exploit. I don't believe that any other ODM could have done better in that respect.

By JediJeb on 7/30/2009 3:22:39 PM , Rating: 2
A really bad thing for Apple now is that is someone does do this and disrupt the cell network and in court says they only found out they can do it from reading about Apple saying it could be done, then wouldn't that really open Apple up to liability?

Letting your top level OS be able to interact completely with the baseband controller seems rather bad to begin with, there should be some type of firewall or something protecting the baseband. But to openly tell the public that the link is there is like a bank president putting the codes to the banks security system at the bottom of their commercials. Apples desparate attempt to control their phone could have just opened them up to some serious troubles.

By HotFoot on 7/30/2009 5:13:44 AM , Rating: 3
How is this any different from a user having customised software running on a laptop connected through a 3G network dongle? I guess running any of my own code on my own laptop will be illegal in a couple years, too.

By arazok on 7/29/2009 5:13:03 PM , Rating: 5
Agreed. If you use an iPhone, the terrorists win.

RE: Is the iPhone really that dangerous?
By ExarKun333 on 7/29/2009 5:14:13 PM , Rating: 5
I own an iPhone (and like it) but if it is as dangerous as Apple says, then THEY should be the ones responsible to make it unbreakable. If they can't keep it unbroken, then it should be banned.

"Whaaa Whaaa!! We suck as writing software and made it leaky as hell. Now people are breaking the software and doing things on it we didn't intend. Government, HELP!!"

By someguy123 on 7/30/2009 12:32:17 AM , Rating: 4
oddly enough, if jailbreaking were made illegal not only would it NOT stop drug dealers and terrorists (who are too busy breaking a bunch of other laws to notice this one) but it'd also give them another way to stick it to the man while committing said crimes.

what the hell are they thinking?

By Nik00117 on 7/29/2009 5:49:15 PM , Rating: 5
This would be funny

Judge: So Apple what is the claim?
Apple: Unlocking the Iphone is dangerous and poses a national secuirty risk to our nation
Judge: Why's that
Apple: Because users will be able to exploit the power of the Iphone and hack cell phone towers bringing down entire networks.
Judge: Is the iphone really that powerful?
Apple: We are the best, so yes
Judge: Alright, all Iphones are banned
Apple: Uh?
Judge: If your iphone is so powerful we can't allow it to be sold, so you can't sell it anymore, now go fuck off as I type up the report on my Windows PC!

By 41A on 8/17/2009 3:17:40 PM , Rating: 2
Dangerous... you could drop it on the ground... it could burst into flames... land on your foot, and... I understand the next generation iPhone will contain a fire extinguisher.

"My sex life is pretty good" -- Steve Jobs' random musings during the 2010 D8 conference

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