Print 108 comment(s) - last by 41A.. on Aug 17 at 3:17 PM

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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Mutliple issues with making this illegal
By TheEinstein on 7/29/2009 4:26:07 PM , Rating: 4
The first is simple:

Anyone can ram a school bus.

It's very simple really, a schoolbus is a legit terrorism target, it would affect us as a society in a huge manner.

Yet attempting to make it illegal to ram a school bus will not stop those seeking to ram a school bus from ramming a school bus.

Nor will it stop people from selling durable vehicles capable of going completely through a school bus.

Thus the threat from terrorism is a 'non-sequitor'. It can happen regardless, via knowledge of existing phones, and via working in secret inside places such as Apple, Verizon, and AT&T. This in no way legitimately secures their infrastructure nor will it prevent attacks.

2) If the market is truly unhappy...
If you are limiting a market in a manner that makes them not like you, which is sorta in lines with my future aimed thesis about monopolies, then the market may do things you see as undesirable.

An example is music. I hate criminals, and downloading music for free is a 'criminal act'. However that some percentage wanted to only buy a single song, and not a whole album of crap for a single gem in the rough made for a market issue where crime became the only way to satisfy the 'need' in the market. Ultimately the music industry started to realize their forced monopoly was causing a large amount of the crime against them, and then the growth of direct competition against them (Starbucks music business, others) where singles were offered as an obvious choice for the consumer, then the dam burst.

This is an example of a monopoly finding their actions has created a counter (even if illegal) market against them. Being less abusive in their product choices ultimately is a wise choice.

3) Sadly our society cannot wait
We are the NOW AND I MEAN NOW generation. In the past a similar effort to stifle our desires would have lead to people just waiting out the business, and the business panicking as they are deeply under-sold. Some businesses would even be allowed to collapse so others could buy the rights and market it correctly.

Those consumers would wait until the business decided to meet the consumers model, not the businesses model.

Making it sufficiently 'illegal' would result in a backlash against Apple, notorious for their controls over their products, and would result in demand plummeting until they changed their model to meet the demand. Ultimately this would mean making all their phones transferable to other carriers for fear of losing customers to the more flexible of carriers.

All in all this is a very bad step for Apple, it's like trying to dam the Pacific Ocean away from California so that surfers get stopped from fighting over favored beaches...

RE: Mutliple issues with making this illegal
By rdeegvainl on 7/30/2009 7:48:57 AM , Rating: 3
I agree with the jist of your post, but
downloading music for free is a 'criminal act'.

Until they stop taking people to civil court, I don't think so.

RE: Mutliple issues with making this illegal
By Yawgm0th on 7/30/2009 11:49:56 AM , Rating: 2
Hopefully that is why he put it in quotes. I am tired of people referring to music piracy as illegal when there is in fact no statute criminalizing it.

RE: Mutliple issues with making this illegal
By daerid on 7/30/2009 12:30:57 PM , Rating: 2
As a musician, I have to ask: How do you propose that we as artists make money? Like it or not, there has to be compensation for our hard work, or pretty soon there won't be any music for you guys to leech.

By TheEinstein on 8/1/2009 7:48:16 PM , Rating: 2
Sir this is exactly the point.

Take China for example. I forget the Dynasty, maybe it was the Han Dynasty, but one of their emperors decided one day that anyone could make copies of anyone elses works. This could be music, a new mousetrap, a book, it could be anything.

The idea was that this would help spur their growth, their economy, and the fairness for all to have access to the invention if they would but copy it if needed.

This has lead to Modern Day China's rigid issues with inventions. No one will profit in China for their mental prowess in creating new things, only by copying new things faster and in more quantity than others. And cheaper of course, must never forget that with China!

This underlying issue is why they are THE PIRATES of so much music, video's, etc. Compare the rest of the world to them, and you have a thimble next to a lake.

There was one last aspect left to the Chinese... Individuality. Sadly Mao burned this out the hard way.

RE: Mutliple issues with making this illegal
By foolsgambit11 on 7/31/2009 12:23:37 AM , Rating: 2
Illegal means prohibited by law. Copyright infringement (including piracy) is prohibited by law - civil law, not criminal law. Ergo it is illegal, but not criminal. The same way illegal immigrants aren't criminals, despite their illegal entry into the country.

As an aside, I think we should start calling violations of civil law 'civil acts', just like violations of criminal law are criminal acts. And you could say, 'that was very civil of him' and it would mean the exact opposite of what people think it means.

By Lerianis on 8/3/2009 4:42:34 PM , Rating: 1
Don't give the RIAA ideas. At one time, they were thinking of lobbying Congress to make this illegal under CRIMINAL laws, but the massive public backlash made them back off for the moment.

Don't remind them of this, they might try again!

By CascadingDarkness on 7/30/2009 11:07:00 AM , Rating: 2
So you're saying that I should ram school buses to protest this stunt by Apple?

Genius! ;)

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller

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