Missing the Point

Robert Atkins says John Moltz and I are missing the point of the EFF’s “crystal prison” argument and their proposed “bill of rights for mobile computer owners”:

It’s a pity Richard Stallman is such a boor because he’s actually right about some things: if we aren’t vigilant, the general public will have its legal right to build and run arbitrary software on hardware they own eroded to the point where it’s impossible to do so legally.

I believe this is the thinking behind the EFF’s proposed “bill of rights” for mobile computer users: nobody wants or needs to log in to the root prompt on their iPad on a daily basis but it’s incredibly important it remains possible and legal to do so.

I suppose the “slippery slope” argument is the best light in which to see the EFF’s stance — that if some computers implement such restrictions, someday they all might, so therefore none should. I don’t buy it, though. Look at this iOS Security report (PDF) Apple published last month — a huge chunk of the security features Apple is touting are in direct opposition to the EFF’s “bill of rights”. Trade-offs.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012