Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Apple censors the word "jailbreak"

Apple was censoring the word "jailbreak" from their app store.  This is amusing on a few different levels.

First, they're censoring a common word in their app store.  They're already known to exercise strict control over many aspects of apps which can be sold there, but this is a different kettle of fish.

"Jailbreaking" is the common parlance for breaking another party's control over a device which you have bought and paid for.  It's as if, your device, it is in the jail.  And you are breaking it out.

There is a very common notion among contemporary American corporations that they should extend their control over the things which they sell to you.  Apple is famous for this.  The most positive way it is described is as a "walled garden", where Apple controls what you can do, and in return they theoretically protect you from the dangers of the internet.  In my opinion, the notion is not completely without merit, but really the better solution is simply to design your product so that it is much harder to compromise it.

Obviously it is a big problem with computers today that they get compromised/hacked/pwned, whatever you want to call it.  Nobody wants their computer/phone/other device hacked.  Windows machines get hacked all the time, because Microsoft really, truly, does not understand security.  There is a canard that this  happens because Windows machines are so common, but then again so are Android phones now (and iPhones and Macs) and they don't get hacked so easily.  And those of us who do understand security understand that it's really about design--security has to be built in from the beginning--it cannot, ever, be slapped on at the end of development.

Point being, I'm skeptical that the walled garden is necessary.  I really think it's more to do with the 30% Apple gets from all app sales--that is, it's about control.

In any case, there's no good reason for Apple to censor the word "jailbreak" from their app store, and really the reason I bring it up is just to show that censorship is censorship--no matter the rationale.  It is someone else trying to distort your reality for their own ends.  How can you even know about a thing which may be important to you, if you never see the information?

In the end, censorship is a direct threat to you.

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