The “walled garden” becomes a prison for reality

A British tabloid revealed today that Apple has filed for a patent on a system for disabling the video camera on an iPhone or iPad when its user attempts to film a concert or other interdicted live event. This is a much more threatening development than most may realize.

A while back I said this:

[The iPad] is not the future of personal computing, because the person doesn’t control it. The iPad is a media-delivery device controlled by Apple and the RIAA/MPAA content cartel, not the person who ostensibly bought it. It’s not empowerment, it’s a glossy-surfaced pretense of empowerment.

I caught some crap for sounding like a Richard-Stallman-like extremist when I said that. But those who think I took an ‘extreme’ position should be eating their words now, because Apple’s patent filing perfectly illustrates the risks of relying on computer hardware and software that you don’t control down to the bit level. And not the worst risk, either. Glenn Reynolds aka Instapundit observes “Sounds like totalitarian governments would love this.”

On their past record, can there be any doubt of Apple’s willingness to quietly slipstream this technology into a future release of iOS, leaving its victims unaware that their ability to record a police action or a political demonstration is now conditional on whether the authorities have deployed the right sort of IR flasher to invisibly censor the event?

As we become increasingly dependent on computers and the Internet to mediate our communications with others, the integrity of our social and political networks requires that we have complete control of those computers. Without that control, not only are we liable to have our communications with others blocked and filtered, the evidence of reality itself can be suppressed. Concerts, police actions, and political demonstrations can be censored from the Internet-enabled conversation. These events can, in an increasingly important sense, be made unwitnessable – deleted from social memory.

It is difficult to overstate how dangerous a prospect this is. We come near the territory of Orwell’s “1984” here; Apple’s video-suppressing devices would create memory holes. The “walled garden” would imprison not just its users but reality and history. We must not allow this to happen.

When I advocate for open-source software, one common form of pushback I get is that only computer geeks ever need care about this issue, because only computer geeks will ever engage in the sort of customization that open source enables. Apple’s patent application is the clearest possible demonstration that this argument is bogus.

Open source matters to all of us. It matters as a defense against control by others. Even those of us who don’t have the ability or desire to hack software will increasingly rely on the ability of skeptical third parties to audit the software we rely on – to guard against the possibility that our cameras could be disabled by stealth, that the software we rely on could be subverted into an instrument of censorship and repression.

Apple’s “walled garden” is a prison in which the jailers can change the terms of sentencing at any time – until we break out. But singling out Apple would be to miss the forest for one tree; it is not only the iPhone and iPad that are dangerous to our liberties, it is all closed-source software everywhere in our Internet-connected devices. What we do not control can be – and, as the Apple patent application shows, will be – used to control us.

You can take back control. Demand Android in your phones, Linux or BSD in your computers, open source in your Internet router and your digital camera and your power meter and game console and voting machines and even your automobile’s control systems. Otherwise…how will you know who they really serve?

304 thoughts on “The “walled garden” becomes a prison for reality

  1. 1984 called, they want their paranoid mindset back.

    Let me know when you can use a Xerox machine on US and other currency. Then we can talk.

  2. now, the cops can just turn on their no-filming device and all of the iPhone will stop recording. Remember, you DO NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO FILM YOUR OWN BEATING.

  3. If they actually activate this, you are right and it will set a terrible precedent. If not, it’s just another of 1000s of patents in their portfolio.

    But just having the capability to do this makes me uncomfortable.

  4. How about a patent for firearms that wont shoot if pointed at ‘undesired’ targets.

  5. >If they actually activate this, you are right and it will set a terrible precedent. If not, it’s just another of 1000s of patents in their portfolio.

    Er. If they do activate it, how will you know? Until the moment you find out the hard way…

    That’s the exact problem. If you can’t see and modify the software of your device, you don’t know who it serves or what it will do.

  6. > How about a patent for firearms that wont shoot if pointed at ‘undesired’ targets.

    One could already construct firearms that only work in a given venue. Say, a gun range, or one’s own home.

    Careful what you suggest, some nutter congress critter will attempt to make these the law.

  7. So are you saying that no private party should ever have the right to block people from filming activities on their private premises, involving copyrighted material? These technological marvels are merely implementations of simple rights of privacy and private property. Whether a government should have that right is another more complicated question. Enhancing the ability to block recordings does not change the basic principle.

    I have seen artists in a public place with their paintings for sale, leaning up against a wall, who have put up a big sign reading “No photography”. Is this immoral or an infringement of someone’s rights? Should images and music only be exposed to view if the artist pledges that anyone at any time can record that image or music and sell the recording? Would this moral principle hold even if the artist had a specific, written agreement with the one doing the recording that he wouldn’t record? No. Men have to be responsible for their agreements.

    “It is difficult to overstate how dangerous a prospect this is.” Apparently not.

  8. I have to agree with the paranoia comments that have been posted her so far.

    BUT

    As an iPhone user, if I ever get bitten by this I WILL either jailbreak my phone or switch to an Android phone.

    Eric is right, if this is implemented, it will be unacceptable.

    And before anyone argues about the other limits of the iPhone, I know they are there, but am willing to make the tradeoffs for the IMHO superior user experience (plus I snagged VLC before it left the store). I also think the competition between Android and iPhone is leading to a much faster adoption of new and better features for smartphones and is good for all users.

    However, I will be on the lookout for this feature being implemented and will switch if it is.

  9. >I have seen artists in a public place with their paintings for sale, leaning up against a wall, who have put up a big sign reading “No photography”.

    You’re confusing two separate issues here. I can agree that that the artist has a right to not have his paintings stolen by photography without agreeing that he has a right to reach into my smartphone and turn the camera off. The appropriate response in this situation is not suppress and criminalize photography but to suppress and criminalize the sale of unauthorized reproductions. That response protects his property rights without infringing on my liberty.

  10. > to suppress and criminalize the sale of unauthorized reproductions

    So I take it that giving away such reproductions (say, on a file sharing network), is OK?

    (careful, I’ve laid a trap for you here.)

  11. This seems like a funny article to post right after you gleefully predicted the inevitable destruction of every US telecom and phone-maker at the hands of shady Chinese companies. The Chinese government surely cares about freedom enough that it wouldn’t do anything to all that cheap hardware to enable them to monitor anybody.

  12. > If you can’t see and modify the software of your device, you don’t know who it serves or what it will do.

    Even if you can, you’re not safe. Ref: Thompson’s “Reflections on Trusting Trust”

  13. @esr Er. If they do activate it, how will you know? Until the moment you find out the hard way…

    I’ll know when the internet goes ballistic over this. Any privacy issue gets tons of attention…. I wonder if this scenario breaks the privacy policy in iOS as it exists now?

  14. >(careful, I’ve laid a trap for you here.)

    Yes, a very silly and obvious one. You are allowed to insult me on this blog, but wasting my time can get you banned. You are wasting my time.

  15. >The Chinese government surely cares about freedom enough that it wouldn’t do anything to all that cheap hardware to enable them to monitor anybody.

    You raise a substantial point here. Device firmware is software and it is not inconceivable that the Chinese government could embed Trojans in Android SOCs. The proper hedge against this is for the device designs to be open-source as well, or at least source-under-glass.

  16. >Even if you can [see and modify the software of your device], you’re not safe. Ref: Thompson’s “Reflections on Trusting Trust”

    That is true, in an absolute sense. But all security is about raising the cost and complexity of attacks, it’s not possible in principle to prevent them entirely. Requiring open source raises the bar to the point where trust attacks through software become orders of magnitude more difficult, because subverting entire toolchains is that much more difficult. That’s a safeguard well worth having even though perfect security is unachievable.

  17. @esr: can you point to anything specific in Apple’s past behavior that indicates they would active this patent?

    It seems trend is actually the other direction in general: location tracking on/off control, refusing to share customer info on their subscription services, backing off on the objective C requirement, disabling the location DB “bug”, etc. Of course this is largely due to people screaming on the internet.

  18. > You are wasting my time.

    Not really. Rather I’m pointing out that you’ve missed something really obvious.

    I think you don’t like your intellectual peers writing on this blog.

  19. >Yes, a very silly and obvious one. You are allowed to insult me on this blog, but wasting my time can get you banned. You are wasting my time.

    From the last few weeks, I think he is in training to be kk man’s understudy.

  20. >can you point to anything specific in Apple’s past behavior that indicates they would active this patent?

    DRM. Their whole corporate history indicates a willingness to design iPhones and iPads so they are instruments of RIAA/MPAA control rather than the purchaser’s.

  21. >From the last few weeks, I think [not(Andy Rubin)] is in training to be kk man’s understudy.

    Nah. kk man is a semicoherent loon with no particular malice in him; not(Andy Rubin) is a vicious, fixated haterboy. Worlds apart psychologically, even if the resulting verbal diarrheas superficially resemble each other.

  22. ESR:
    >>>Demand… Linux or BSD in your computers…<<<

    Um, no. Sorry, but I am not at all sold that Linux and BSD are remotely appropriate yet as desktop OSes (or ever will be) for people who are not programmers. If at any point, EVER, you have to pop open a piece of your device in a text editor and shuffle its guts around as a matter of course in keeping it running, that device is not an end user device. Also, I think the main points of Steven den Beste's analysis of the situation from a few years ago still hold true:
    http://www.denbeste.nu/Chizumatic/tmw/Linux.shtml

  23. > If at any point, EVER, you have to pop open a piece of your device in a text editor and shuffle its guts around as a
    > matter of course in keeping it running, that device is not an end user device.

    Hm. By this definition, no systems running OS X or Windows are end-user devices either. Call up Apple support on some issues and they will have you open the Terminal. Ever had to load up regedit in Windows to add/modify/remove a key?

  24. @esr DRM. Their whole corporate history indicates a willingness to design iPhones and iPads so they are instruments of RIAA/MPAA control rather than the purchaser’s.

    They moved all their music off DRM starting in 2009: http://www.macworld.com/article/138000/2009/01/drm_faq.html

    again the trend is in the right direction.

    movies? yep. If they didn’t offer DRM they wouldn’t have any. Which is better? no movies or DRM movies?

  25. Oh no. A patent.

    Apple is evil. Because of a patent. Sure, there’s zero indication that it’ll ever go in a phone, or ever be used for anything but patent lawsuits, but blah blah “you don’t own the source and can’t check it”.

    Yeah, it’s true, admittedly. You don’t, and you can’t.

    But you know what? I’ve run OpenBSD before.

    And I didn’t check the source for trojans or backdoors. Do I trust Theo DeRaadt that much? Not particularly, though I have nothing against him. Do I trust “the community”? No. Mostly I just didn’t care at all.

    “Open source as defense against wicked tricks” doesn’t really work for 99% of the people using it anyway.

    (Know all those “root your android phone” tools? Do any of their users know that the rootkit isn’t itself leaving a rootkit? Yeah, I didn’t think they did.)

    Also, On their past record, can there be any doubt of Apple’s willingness to quietly slipstream this technology into a future release of iOS, leaving its victims unaware that their ability to record a police action or a political demonstration is now conditional on whether the authorities have deployed the right sort of IR flasher to invisibly censor the event?

    Yes. Show me the “past record” you think suggests it?

    (I’m with Phil, in that I think they actually go the other direction – and that to the extent they’re even thinking about this patent, it’s about stopping film piracy with high-quality video cameras via licensing, not about phones at all. Phones are mentioned in the patent? Yeah, welcome to increasing the coverage of your patent.

    And one last note, that tabloid link was terrible; at least some of the US sources on this – it’s weeks old news included excerpts from the patent, not anonymous quotes of random people speculating about it.)

    Indeed, to take the obvious cheap shot, how long until Google licenses the patent for inclusion on every Android device sold in the PRC? Given their past record, I bet they already have. (I kid. Mostly.)

  26. Sorry, but I am not at all sold that Linux and BSD are remotely appropriate yet as desktop OSes (or ever will be) for people who are not programmers. If at any point, EVER, you have to pop open a piece of your device in a text editor and shuffle its guts around as a matter of course in keeping it running, that device is not an end user device.

    Being able to do something is not the same thing as needing to, and taking away the ability is not the same as taking away the need. In fact, I’d say that needing to fix or otherwise modify something and *not* being able to is the worst combination, wouldn’t you? Far worse than being able to but not needing to.

  27. >Sorry, but I am not at all sold that Linux and BSD are remotely appropriate yet as desktop OSes

    I don’t actually grant the premise. But supposing I did, it would only change the question to this: how much inconvenience will you accept to defend your liberty? Heightened confidence that your computer has not been made into someone else’s covert instrument of control has to be worth something.

    You, of course, must choose your own tradeoffs. But “Linux is inconvenient” is not a responsive answer to the security and trust problem posed by closed source. I could hurt myself with a firearm, too, but having been threatened with assassination I carry one anyway. That tradeoff is not different in principle; tossing my .45 in a river wouldn’t make the threat go away, and having the vapors because someone somewhere might have to edit a configuration file won’t make the far greater risks of closed source go away.

  28. So, if I get a really bright IR light and flash it just right, no iOS device anywhere nearby can film anything. Just have an IR headband and no one can record me.

    Conversely, if I put some cover on whatever the IR sensor is (or jam the signal like the LIDAR jammers), it would be defeated.

  29. Trusting trust
    While it’s true that the compiled in trojan in the compiler would be a pretty nasty thing to detect, it’s a pretty specific sort of trojan, and even then can be detected and fixed if you have complete access to the entire tool chain. The main problem would be deciding it was worth the trouble to do the rather extended process to decide if the tools had been corrupted.

    It would be a one shot deal though, once some one noticed that a problem existed, it wouldn’t take them long before someone started checking the compiler and linker as well.

    Basic method of detecting the compiler trojan is to recompile the compiler with a completely different compiler, then compare the outputs of the previous version and the recompiled version of your compiler. Might be possible to work a trojan past that one, but the bar would again be much higher.

    With open source, not impossible, but orders of magnitude more difficult to get the trojan in there, then keep it in for long.

  30. > it would only change the question to this: how much inconvenience will you accept to defend your liberty?

    Channeling rms now? Dude, you’ve changed.

  31. > So, if I get a really bright IR light and flash it just right, no iOS device anywhere nearby can film anything. Just have an IR headband and no one can record me.

    Well no, but you would have infringed Apple’s patent, and Apple could prevent you from doing so.

    Moreover, by patenting this, Apple could prevent a similar system from being deployed by the MPAA or similar.

    #gameover

  32. So, if I get a really bright IR light and flash it just right, no iOS device anywhere nearby can film anything. Just have an IR headband and no one can record me.

    Not just any IR, or the camera would shut down outside. Something more along the lines of a TV remote’s IR flashing pattern. However, if this gets deployed, I’m willing to take “3-6 months” in the pool on how long it’ll take before somebody starts marketing police nametags/badges with an embedded flasher.

    Conversely, if I put some cover on whatever the IR sensor is (or jam the signal like the LIDAR jammers), it would be defeated.

    This was discussed when the patent first surfaced (a couple of weeks ago, IIRC). The IR sensor is integrated into the CCD, so I’m sure the police wouldn’t object to your putting electrical tape over it.

  33. > it would only change the question to this: how much inconvenience will you accept to defend your liberty?

    Channeling rms now? Dude, you’ve changed.

    Come on; now you’re not even trying.

  34. >Which is better? no movies or DRM movies?

    Well, from my point of view, “no movies” is better. If I wanted a movie enough, I could BitTorrent it, then mail a check to the rights owner. On the other hand, DRM is a threat to everybody because it’s the camel’s nose under the tent for all sorts of intrusive mischief – like cops disabling my smartphone camera.

  35. > So are you saying that no private party should ever have the right to block people from filming activities on their private premises, involving copyrighted material?

    In fact, no, no private party *should* have the right to block it. And no copyright violation which does not entail commercial retail sale of bootlegs/pirates as the real thing should ever be a criminal offence, either, IMNSHO.

    But that’s orthogonal to the Capability Creep that stems from *including the possibility* in the hardware in the first place. History proves that if you put such capabilities into the hardware/firmware of such devices, *the good guys* will end up abusing it. You don’t *need* to worry about the bad guys.

  36. “Moreover, by patenting this, Apple could prevent a similar system from being deployed by the MPAA or similar.

    That’s a really serious disconnect from our reality.

  37. It seems to me that the way around this would be to put a filter over the camera that blocks infrared light.

  38. I can’t believe anyone would defend the actual use of this patent as outlined. If Apple does it, they’ve crossed the line big time.

  39. >Come on; now you’re not even trying.

    Oh, he’s trying all right. Well, trying to be trying, anyway. What haterboys never seem to figure out is that the 60-cycle hum destroys their ability to impress or persuade. not(Andy Rubin), and other like him, live in a fantasy world where they are bravely scoring points against The Man, failing to notice that actually all the sane people are pointing and laughing at them.

  40. @Alex If at any point, EVER, you have to pop open a piece of your device in a text editor and shuffle its guts around as a matter of course in keeping it running, that device is not an end user device.

    Well, it’s true to some extend but not really: that criteria will mean that any desktop is not the end user device. You can not avoid mucking around with text files (or their dark cousins called “registry” in Windows) if you want to keep your system working.

    But hey, there are much older and more established class of devices where you need to much around with gory details: they are called cars. And just like there are lots of guys who will fix or tune your car for money there are lots of people who will tune or fix your Windows desktop. Similar class of people will be needed for Linux.

    But I’m not all that sure this battle is relevant these days: desktops were never meant to be end user devices. They were born to be used by corporations – and there they work Ok (both Windows and Linux). End-user devices today are game consoles, tablets and phones. The game consoles are superproblematic but at the same time they are not problematic at all: in the grand theme of things it’s not all that important if you can play tomorrow the game you liked today or not. It may be disappointment, but nothing beyond that. Phones are mostly Ok now (and getting better), but tablets… iPad is still the most popular and most problematic one.

    P.S. Oh, and “battle for desktop” will be won eventually. For the simple reason: Linux may be problematic as end user device, but it’s good this for developer and as proportion of developers among desktop users will grow (while number of desktops will simultaneously shrink) so will grow the number of Linux desktop. It’ll take years, obviously.

  41. P.S. Oh, and “battle for desktop” will be won eventually. For the simple reason: Linux may be problematic as end user device, but it’s good this for developer and as proportion of developers among desktop users will grow (while number of desktops will simultaneously shrink) so will grow the number of Linux desktop. It’ll take years, obviously.

    I think the “battle for the desktop” is more likely to be mooted. While I don’t track precisely with Eric’s predictions, we’re on the same page regarding general trends: I believe portable devices will subsume what used to be the province of “computers”, and the two major components of a computing system that aren’t easily portable (HID and very-high-performance hardware) will become peripherals or, in some corporate settings, permanently installed a la perpetually almost-there thin-client revolution of the 1990s.

  42. (I forgot to mention in my last post that my current phone, a 2-year-old original Palm Pre, has equivalent memory/computing specs to the computer I built myself in 2000, and I see very little reason why a competently executed and reasonably priced Atrix-style product should start displacing netbooks Real Soon Now.)

  43. I wouldn’t worry about this patent *at all*.

    Apple – like every other large tech company – habitually patents every half-baked stray thought, just on the off-chance that it might be useful in a future lawsuit. There is absolutely zero possibility that this system will ever be implemented by Apple; the market simply would not tolerate it.

  44. Tom, perhaps the market won’t tolerate it. But it helps to generate some intolerance early on. Otherwise, you’ll see this kind of nonsense stuck on a piece of legislation bought and paid-for by RIAA/MPAA .

  45. >Tom, perhaps the market won’t tolerate it. But it helps to generate some intolerance early on.

    Precisely the point I was going to make. The “market” is not some spook that’s going to object if no individual does. The fact that Tim O’Reilly and Instapundit and I are raising hell about this is the market in action.

  46. @esr Well, from my point of view, “no movies” is better. If I wanted a movie enough, I could BitTorrent it, then mail a check to the rights owner. On the other hand, DRM is a threat to everybody because it’s the camel’s nose under the tent for all sorts of intrusive mischief – like cops disabling my smartphone camera.

    Do you use a Bluray or DVD Player? DRM

  47. @tz: “Conversely, if I put some cover on whatever the IR sensor is (or jam the signal like the LIDAR jammers), it would be defeated.”

    @Christopher Smith: “The IR sensor is integrated into the CCD, so I’m sure the police wouldn’t object to your putting electrical tape over it.”

    Don’t put tape over it; put an IR-blocking filter over the lens. Such filters are clearly available, since manufacturers have been using them extensively to improve color rendition in digital cameras.

    From http://www.wrotniak.net/photo/quest/q18.html:

    “Because 99.9% of digital camera users will never try infrared photography, the manufacturers solved the problem in the most economical way: by placing an IR-absorbing filter just in front of the sensor (usually it is combined with the anti-aliasing filter; see my article in Quest 16 on the Leica M8).

    “The bottom line is that this anti-IR filter blocks about 99% of the infrared light from reaching the sensor.”

    That said, I agree with Eric that there’s a real philiosophical and practical threat here, and just hacking to block one implementation of it doesn’t change that.

  48. Do you use a Bluray or DVD Player? DRM

    I bought a Blu-Ray drive for the first time last week—and specifically because I know the DRM on Blu-Rays is now crackable. I’ve never owned a television, and for the last five years I’ve used MythTV, which is happy to rip my DVD movies onto hard disk, CSS or no CSS.

  49. @Tom: “Apple – like every other large tech company – habitually patents every half-baked stray thought, just on the off-chance that it might be useful in a future lawsuit. There is absolutely zero possibility that this system will ever be implemented by Apple; the market simply would not tolerate it.”

    If all they wanted was protection against a lawsuit, they could accomplish that by publishing an article outlining the patented process. IBM used to do this (probably still does) with ideas that they didn’t feel were promising enough to justify the expense of patenting, but wanted to block anyone else from patenting against them. It’s one of the primary goals of a good corporate journal, in-house or otherwise.

  50. Don’t put tape over it; put an IR-blocking filter over the lens. Such filters are clearly available, since manufacturers have been using them extensively to improve color rendition in digital cameras.

    *smacks forehead* Forgot entirely about the filters, since I use a Canon 20D for almost all my photography, and the filter’s actually built into the camera. (Interestingly enough, Canon also made an astronomy-specific version of that one body without the filter.)

  51. >Tom, perhaps the market won’t tolerate it. But it helps to generate some intolerance early on. Otherwise, you’ll see this kind of nonsense stuck on a piece of >legislation bought and paid-for by RIAA/MPAA .

    I have no objection to letting it be known that such a technology would be opposed, but it seems a bit overblown to get so worked up about it at this stage when there is absolutely no reason to think it will ever become a reality. I would also point out that any attempt to pass legislation to mandate something like this would affect Android just as much as iOS.

    >The “market” is not some spook that’s going to object if no individual does. The fact that Tim O’Reilly and Instapundit and I are raising hell about this is the market >in action.

    No; the ‘market in action’ would be people not buying iPhones when everybody realises that they can’t use their cameras. The market is not embodied by complaints but by purchasing decisions.

  52. >Do you use a Bluray or DVD Player? DRM

    I do use a DVD player occasionally – mainly watching episodes of MythBusters my wife gets from Netflix. But let me tell you a story about that.

    There was a time we had put a Mythbusters DVD in our queue and got a note from Netflix saying it would be held up for a few days. I grabbed a torrent of seasons 1 through 6 and we watched our nightly episodes from that instead until the next DVD arrived. I considered this ethical because we were quite willing to pay the fee that would go back to the rights-holders, and in fact had already paid it via our Netflix subscription.

    But AFAIC, having paid for the right to watch anything in the Mythbusters section of Netflix’s library, I see no ethical or instrumental reason that it’s wrong for me to download the same content I could get from Netflix in order to view it. The DVD player – and its DRM – is no longer relevant unless I choose to make it so.

  53. >The market is not embodied by complaints but by purchasing decisions.

    Your view of “the market” is far too narrow, certainly too narrow for most marketers. The market includes all the conversations people have about why they purchase what they do, and the entire cloud of complaints and praise around the product. This is why marketing people try so hard to launch memes and generate buzz.

  54. @esr: “Your view of ‘the market’ is far too narrow, certainly too narrow for most marketers. The market includes all the conversations people have about why they purchase what they do, and the entire cloud of complaints and praise around the product. This is why marketing people try so hard to launch memes and generate buzz.”

    Yes, that’s why people in my profession [market research] have full-time jobs and are in demand. There is a lot of discussion, atittudinal shifting, decision-making communication, etc, etc, going on in the market all the time.

  55. The market is not embodied by complaints but by purchasing decisions.

    Your view of “the market” is far too narrow, certainly too narrow for most marketers.

    I’m thinking quite specifically of Guy Kawasaki. I listened to the audiobook of Enchantment last week, and I was burning with curiosity about his opinions on Apple’s recent moves related to its mobile platform.

  56. @esr “I do use a DVD player occasionally ”

    I don’t get why watching a DVD is OK but getting a DRMed movie on iTunes isn’t.

    And I would note Google’s YouTube commercial video rentals are DRMed too: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2011/05/google-blocks-android-movie-rentals-from-rooted-devices.ars

    So how is Apple different from Google on DRM?

    Actually in one way Apple more friendly than google when it comes to DRM/RIAA. With the upcoming iTunes match – all your music including pirated tracks get replicated in the cloud, no matter the source.

  57. Khim:
    >>>But I’m not all that sure this battle is relevant these days: desktops were never meant to be end user devices. They were born to be used by corporations – and there they work Ok (both Windows and Linux). End-user devices today are game consoles, tablets and phones.<<<

    That's a very underappreciated point – even a Mac, the most locked-down platform, requires periodic system and application updates. To extend somebody's rather inapt car analogy, that's like having to change out the timing belt and sparkplugs yourself every couple weeks, and every once in a while having a part that looked perfectly fine render your entire car inoperable. However, system updates and repair aren't even what I was referring to – I'm saying that even the most popular and "mainstream" open-source distros are a lot more likely to require code-editing *as part of the ordinary performance of a task* than the commercial monsters. (Even the Windows Registry, which you should *never* have to touch if you don't do stupid things with your computer and everything works as advertised, has a GUI with a search utility attached to it, so I wouldn't even equate that with having to edit config files in a plaintext editor.)

    It's easy to forget that the vast, VAST majority of the people who buy and use computers of any kind are a lot more like your mother than like Dilbert. The idea of editing a Registry or config file is, not just onerous, but terrifyingly incomprehensible to 99.9% of users. MY mother has a computer that I've put a ton of time into fixing up and showing her how to use, and she still avoids even simple (to us) things like checking her email. Something like a cheap, streamlined smartphone or tablet (one not requiring manual updates, for instance) with a guaranteed signal (i.e. something much better than a cell network) would be perfect for users like her. My mother would hunt her own meat before she would root a phone.

  58. Even the Windows Registry, which you should *never* have to touch if [...] everything works as advertised

    And when everything doesn’t work as advertised? Is there any techie around here who’s never seen a Windows box acting up because the owner, trying to be extra cautious, installed more than one antivirus program simultaneously—programs which are only necessary because of serious flaws in the system’s design? Safe engineering is performed by asking precisely the question of “what can go wrong?” and then trying to contain the potential impact.

    (Please note that I hardly think Linux has a perfect design, and I lodge several of the complaints in “What Unix Gets Wrong” against it; I just think it’s the least-bad desktop choice out there right now from a technical standpoint, even disregarding the open-source background that had much to do with getting it to that point.)

  59. >Your view of “the market” is far too narrow, certainly too narrow for most marketers. The market includes all the conversations people have about why they purchase >what they do, and the entire cloud of complaints and praise around the product. This is why marketing people try so hard to launch memes and generate buzz.

    OK, I think we’re getting a bit sidetracked here. Obviously you are right that conversations, praise, complaints, etc, have a big effect on markets, but they are not the markets themselves. I don’t really want to get pulled into a discussion about the nature of markets. My point is that if a system such the one described in the patent were ever implemented by Apple or anybody else then the market would punish that severely by not buying their products (and, yes, conversations will play an important role in informing market decisions).

    The whole idea of complaining about what a company hasn’t even done yet based on nothing more than a patent application is a bit silly. There is a web site somewhere (I forget the URL) that tracks Apple patents, and you have only to take a cursory glance at it to see a long list of whimsical ideas that never became a reality. And you have only to look at the continuing – and seemingly never-ending – patent wars between the likes of Google, Apple, Nokia, and Microsoft to see how a big IP portfolio is an essential strategic asset.

  60. >So how is Apple different from Google on DRM?

    Why is that an interesting question? I don’t use Google movie rentals. I’m not defending Google’s use of DRM. I’m arguing that the justification for DRM we sometimes hear – that we wouldn’t have movies or music available without it – is specious. I can get all the movies I want on BitTorrent, and I see no sign that this reality is stopping any movies from being made.

    Now, in fact, I respect property rights, and I don’t generally torrent things unless (a) I have paid for them in physical media, (b) they’re not available in physical media, or (c) the rights-holders have made buying and paying for them unreasonably difficult. But the point is still the same. I don’t see any useful purpose that DRM is actually accomplishing, therefore I see no reason to accept the risk and harm accompanying it.

  61. @esr “Why is that an interesting question?”

    because of :
    “phil>can you point to anything specific in Apple’s past behavior that indicates they would active this patent?

    esr>DRM. Their whole corporate history indicates a willingness to design iPhones and iPads so they are instruments of RIAA/MPAA control rather than the purchaser’s.”

    You are saying Apple is evil and use DRM as a justification for your claim. So Google is also evil I guess?

  62. @Tom:

    I have no objection to letting it be known that such a technology would be opposed, but it seems a bit overblown to get so worked up about it at this stage when there is absolutely no reason to think it will ever become a reality.

    I completely disagree. It’s much better to get worked up about crap like this before some idiot congresscritter actually introduces a bill that would strip some of our rights. The way congress works, once bills are introduced they can be very problematic if the right parties show up with sufficient wheelbarrows full of cash.

  63. Christopher Smith:
    >>>And when everything doesn’t work as advertised?<<>> Safe engineering is performed by asking precisely the question of “what can go wrong?” and then trying to contain the potential impact.<<>>(Please note that I hardly think Linux has a perfect design, and I lodge several of the complaints in “What Unix Gets Wrong” against it; I just think it’s the least-bad desktop choice out there right now from a technical standpoint, even disregarding the open-source background that had much to do with getting it to that point.)<<<

    Well, the technical standpoint pales as a consideration next to the "how do I check my Facebook on this?" consideration. Most of the people who buy a desktop PC are not going to be running mathematical models or app servers on it. In fact, to the extent that non-programmer computer users would care about the technical standpoint at all, it would be in terms of being able to play popular high-end games on them… d'oh.

  64. >You are saying Apple is evil and use DRM as a justification for your claim. So Google is also evil I guess?

    I have a feeling esr is going to say:

    “The difference is that if Google does something evil in Android, we hackers can just turn it off.”

    The reply to which is: “Almost nobody is a hacker, so for all practical purposes there is no salient difference between the two companies on this point.”

  65. Wow, the formatting got completely mangled in my comment. The points that got erased were, basically, that you have to dig around in the guts of ANY OS when it breaks, but you don’t have to do so in commercial OSes when they’re *working*. And that I don’t think nearly as many open-source engineers worry about “what can go wrong” as we would like.

  66. No; the ‘market in action’ would be people not buying iPhones when everybody realises that they can’t use their cameras. The market is not embodied by complaints but by purchasing decisions.

    Those complaints and the information markets through which they disseminate are part of those purchasing decisions. If ESR and Glenn Reynolds is talking about this, then millions of people are aware of it now, which will factor into those decisions.

    Here’s a nightmare scenario for you: Armed thugs at a movie theater boldly rob patrons. Someone whips out his iPhone and starts taking pictures. Thug sees it, and the guy says “Don’t shoot me; I’m streaming your picture out to the Internet, and you’ll be caught for sure if you do!” Thug says “No you aren’t; this theater shut down your iPhone’s camera to protect the movie studio”. BANG! <takes the iPhone from the dead guy’s hand>

  67. Tom:
    “Almost nobody is a hacker”

    This really needs to be emblazoned in forty-foot-high letters of fire on every open-source community website.

  68. I’m not a haterboy. I do think Eric doesn’t think things through all too often. When he shoots from the hip, the strays tend to do a lot of damage to his argument. That is all.

  69. If Microsoft had patented this, would people be so quick to dismiss it as never happening? Not that you couldn’t be right, but this might be a trial balloon, and being upset about it (if you think this would be a bad thing) is the only reaction it deserves.

    Other patents we could ignore, “Method of blowing up a phone remotely using software” and “Method of sterilizing undesirable elements using phones”. (Yes, I’m being intentionally out there and unrealistic.) I mean, We *know* they wouldn’t *use* such patents, so why be upset? Right?

  70. >You are saying Apple is evil and use DRM as a justification for your claim. So Google is also evil I guess?

    Oh, I see. OK, that is a relevant question.

    Google – so far – doesn’t have a history that indicates a willingness to seize control of Android handsets in order to protect someone’s DRM. So, even though Apple and Google both have products that are DRMed, Google is objectively less evil about it.

  71. Looking at the patent, it strikes me that listing the DRM use case first might be a nice bit of misdirection to distract from whatever features Apple’s developing. If you read the rest of the patent, Apple is essentially bringing back IRDA. This could be pretty cool if it catches on. There’s a clear need for sideband communications in the real world. QTVR codes are ugly and take up space and not sufficiently dynamic. Bluetooth is a little too heavyweight, subject to interference, and has distance limitations. One of the earliest uses for the Apple Newton was as a museum guide device; this would work for that. Imagine pointing your camera at a live video in a museum to get local closed captioning or audio in your language of choice. Imagine sending/receiving info to other phones within line of sight where one phone flashes the LED to send and the other uses the camera to receive.

    The generic capability is to let the camera see an extra real-time sideband signal and send the info in that signal info off to whatever side processes are interested in it while still passing along some or all of the remaining signal to the camera if the camera is being used. Suppose that were available as a general OS feature. Locality-based DRM disabling is indeed *one* imaginable use case for this feature but not the only one; some of the other use cases could easily be a selling points for a new product.

  72. > for all practical purposes there is no salient difference between the two companies on this point.

    Only this:

    Apple wants to sell you incremental $100s of dollars of product every year. Apple’s central core (nark nark) is under assault from Android.

    Google wants you to view advertising. Google’s central core, online PC advertising, is under assault. Partly from mobile searches, and partly from native apps covering over the web, but most especially from Facebook.

  73. “I’m arguing that the justification for DRM we sometimes hear – that we wouldn’t have movies or music available without it – is specious. I can get all the movies I want on BitTorrent, and I see no sign that this reality is stopping any movies from being made.”

    Well it’s true if you go through enough pain, you can see almost any movie you want. But a DRMed movie selection on iTunes allows me to EASILY download a movie to my iPad and watch it on a plane. I’d much rather pay $5 for this experience then go through the hell of downloading a movie via bit torrent (which I’ve found to be very unreliable), hoping it’s actually what I requested, hoping the quality is good, and then going through a manual process to get it on my device.

    And without DRM, the movies wouldn’t be available this easily.

    I agree the studios are short-sighted, but this seems to be the only option until they come to their senses.

  74. Well, the technical standpoint pales as a consideration next to the “how do I check my Facebook on this?” consideration. Most of the people who buy a desktop PC are not going to be running mathematical models or app servers on it. In fact, to the extent that non-programmer computer users would care about the technical standpoint at all, it would be in terms of being able to play popular high-end games on them… d’oh.

    And the answer is “by running Firefox, where you can import your profile from Windows and even have your sparkly theme transfer flawlessly”, which is why I preach open formats and protocols pretty hard to my clients. And when it comes to games, not running on Linux is mostly an issue of recompiling; when I was in college, the Linux boxes in our department that had Warcraft 3 installed ran it better under Wine than the Windows boxes did natively.

  75. > Google – so far – doesn’t have a history that indicates a willingness to seize control of Android handsets in order to protect someone’s DRM.

    What?! Google has built an entire framework (it’s called android.drm) that provides for DRM control on Android, and it is implemented on their app store for paid applications to prevent piracy (or *try* to prevent it anyway).

  76. >What?! Google has built an entire framework (it’s called android.drm) that provides for DRM control on Android, and it is implemented on their app store for paid applications to prevent piracy

    Can that framework turn off my camera?

    You’re not stupid; generalize the question appropriately.

  77. Google: root implies no movies (worst-case)
    Apple: no root, ever

    If you think these are remotely equivalent, you are beyond help.

  78. >Can that framework turn off my camera?

    Of course not; that’s not the point. The point is to rebut your assertion that Google has less propensity for – in your words – ‘evil’ behaviour than Apple.

  79. The point is to rebut your assertion that Google has less propensity for – in your words – ‘evil’ behaviour than Apple.

    That’s an extremely hard assertion to rebut successfully because, on the current evidence, it’s true.

  80. The fallout from Apple’s “if you sell it from inside an app, we get 30%” policy is starting to become clear.

    If Apple has any common sense, they’ll spin this as encouraging rapid adoption of the HTML 5 standard by placing a tax on developers who aren’t smart enough to code great web-only apps.

  81. >That’s an extremely hard assertion to rebut successfully because, on the current evidence, it’s true.

    Well, first of all esr pointed to Apple’s use of DRM as evidence for their malicious nature. When it was pointed out that Google uses DRM as well he switched tack to claim that at least Google does not ‘seize control of Android handsets in order to protect someone’s DRM’. I then pointed to android.drm, and the use of it on Google’s app store.

    If you have any other examples to support this posited moral differential I would be glad to hear them.

  82. “If Apple has any common sense, they’ll spin this as encouraging rapid adoption of the HTML 5 standard by placing a tax on developers who aren’t smart enough to code great web-only apps.”

    The giant hole in this is it’s a lot easier to make money on the AppStore than doing HTML5 apps: http://www.asymco.com/2011/06/15/the-app-industry-vs-the-music-industry/

    How much money has been made on HTML5 mobile apps? I can’t find any data, but seems very low.

  83. Wow. I’m amazed at how eager so many people are to give Apple a complete pass on this. Thank you sir, may I have another.

    Reminds me of that line from Star Wars, something like: “So this is how freedom dies, to thunderous applause”.

    And there is absolutely nothing “over the top” in Eric’s post. His treatment of this subject is reasonable and correct.

  84. >Wow. I’m amazed at how eager so many people are to give Apple a complete pass on this. Thank you sir, may I have another.

    If Apple ever implements this, or if a Government ever mandates it, I will be right behind Eric in the revolutionary army sign-up queue (I’m hoping he’ll lend me a pistol). But guess what? Nothing like that has happened, nor will it.

  85. Tom Says:
    > Nothing like that has happened, nor will it.

    I’m really curious how you can be so sure of that.

  86. >Of course not; that’s not the point.

    OK, so you’re either stupid or faking stupidity for rhetorical purposes. I”ll play along and spell things out in small words.

    Yes, both Apple and Google have DRM support. But one company has made cooperating with the MPAA/RIAA’s sealed-pipe fantasies a cornerstone of its business model for over a decade, while the other told the content cartel to fuck off and has a streaming deal with Netflix now because Netflix came crawling after the Amazon streaming tie-up. One company files patents on tech that would enable a random third party to stealthily turn off my camera – that is, seize control of functions of my handset unrelated to the “content protection” DRM is supposed to be enabling – while the other allows me to see everything in the source code that could even potentially be used for shit like that.

    Distinctions are not difficult to draw here. Android’s DRM is not a threat to seize control of my handset. Apple’s closed source means I never had control of my handset in the first place.

  87. I don’t get why watching a DVD is OK but getting a DRMed movie on iTunes isn’t.

    DVDs are only nominally DRMed. CSS has been comprehensively broken for well over a decade, both by attacks on the algorithm and by sheer brute force keygen.

  88. @phil:

    > How much money has been made on HTML5 mobile apps? I can’t find any data, but seems very low.

    In the general case, you may be right. I was thinking of the more specific case of Apple’s policy re periodicals. Some of those are actually managing to sign up customers these days on the web, and of course, advertising is one of the traditional support mechanisms for periodicals.

  89. not(Andy Rubin),

    > I’m not a haterboy. I do think Eric doesn’t think things through all too often. When he shoots from the hip, the strays tend to do a lot of damage to his argument. That is all.

    OK, then the problem is not that you are a haterboy, it’s that you read like a haterboy to esr and I (and perhaps others). This could be our eyes or your fingers. Any suggestions for my eyes are welcome. Near-sighted, astingmatism and now I’ve got to wear bifocals. Although the eyewear industry really does come up with some wonderful coatings and lenses these days my glasses have done nothing for my ability to hear tone and see body language when I read text. I’ve got to check with my optometrist about that. As for your fingers, self deprecating humor is nice.

    Yours,
    Tom

  90. > I”ll play along and spell things out in small words.

    I dunno. “Stealthily”, “cornerstone”, “fantasies”, etc. Lots of 3 syllable words. And don’t even get me started on “cooperating”.

  91. >As for your fingers, self deprecating humor is nice.

    Indeed. One of the diagnostic signs of the haterboy, exhibited by not(Andy Rubin) in full form, is shrill and humorless intensity – no capacity for perspective, for poking fun at one’s own foibles and self-image. Such rudimentary humor as haterboys do exhibit tends to be nasty and edged – mockery rather than laughing-with. That 60-cycle hum is always on.

  92. @esr: “But one company has made cooperating with the MPAA/RIAA’s sealed-pipe fantasies a cornerstone of its business model for over a decade, ”

    And Apple successfully got the record companies to drop DRM. You are really hung up on this DRM thing, I think you should seek another more effective target (there are several)…. RIAA/MPAA positions for Apple and Google are identical as best as I can tell.

    “One company files patents on tech that would enable a random third party to stealthily turn off my camera”
    Give me a real example – this is a theoretical one. There is no way this scenario would stand.

    “Android’s DRM is not a threat to seize control of my handset. Apple’s closed source means I never had control of my handset in the first place.”
    I think this argument is stronger. You can jailbreak your iPhone of course, but there is no guarantee that you will always be able to.

    Another point against Apple: Apple doesn’t allow side loading. Personally, I think this is a mistake.

  93. >Apple’s closed source means I never had control of my handset in the first place.

    Ok. So, this really has nothing to do with Apple’s patent filing *at all*, but is really just a re-hashing of the same old ‘closed-source evil, open-source good’ argument we have been hearing for years. The reality is that this argument presents a false dichotomy. Yes, you give up some control when you use closed-source software, but you never had absolute control anyway. Can you ever be sure that Google, or some nefarious third-party hasn’t installed a rootkit on your phone that you could never detect? No. Can you ever have absolute knowledge of the software of any computing platform? No. Can the average user exercise any more control over a closed-source OS than an open-source one? No; in fact, likely the reverse.

    The point is that we don’t preserve our rights and freedoms by engaging in tribal and ideological behaviour, but by staying aware of threats on *all* platforms and voting with our wallets.

    And, believe me, if a phone is released that allows a third-party to control its camera, I and a lot of people will be voting against that phone.

    IF!

  94. >Google – so far – doesn’t have a history that indicates a willingness to seize control of Android
    >handsets in order to protect someone’s DRM.

    Two points again:

    1) If anyone has a history of willingness to seize control over handsets it would be Google, or do we forget that time when Google flipped a kill switch and not only removed apps from the app store, but subsequently removed them from the phones they were installed on AND installed additional software to the phone:

    http://www.engadget.com/2011/03/06/google-flips-android-kill-switch-destroys-a-batch-of-malicious/

    And said switch may be used on any app that violates the distributor agreement.

    To date, Apple hasn’t used their kill switch. Of course, Google hasn’t abused theirs either, but by the same token, Apple hasn’t abused this patent either, yet the pitchforks are being sharpened.

    2) Exactly how and when has Apple ever “seized control” over any of the consumer’s iPhones? Never once was an update forced on me, never once was my phone disabled, locked, or in any other way affected except by my choice. This seems a lot like the whining that happened when Sony removed the 3pp OS boot option from the PS3. It sucked sure, but ultimately, it was still the users choice, no one forced them to install the update. One might argue that if an update disables a feature they have seized control by locking me out of the benefits of that update. I would argue that I bought and paid for a device that did and does exactly what it said on the tin. Any future updates are bonuses, not mandatory.

  95. Tom:

    Almost nobody is a hacker

    Alex:

    This really needs to be emblazoned in forty-foot-high letters of fire on every open-source community website.

    Most open-source hackers already intrinsically know this. Almost nobody is so stupid as to be unable to use a “clean” version of Android that a hacker has chosen to provide. (Those who are, are typically incapable of working the camera anyway.) Hackers hack; non-hackers copy.

  96. @phil:

    > And Apple successfully got the record companies to drop DRM.

    Right, but only because Apple bore the brunt of the customers whining about being able to move music about. Take netflix as a more up-to-date example. Available practically out of the box on Apple, but not at all a priority for google, because google doesn’t view it as their job to police your handset for others, and AFAICT, Netflix had to do practically all the DRM work themselves.

    > You are really hung up on this DRM thing

    It is the tip of the iceberg, the camel’s nose, etc. There is a serious difference between RIAA/MPAA DRM. When it is clearly understood by both parties that the content is being leased for a short time (streaming), DRM, while still evil, is much more palatable than when the customer thinks he is buying something. When you think you have bought it, you want continued access, and customers demanding continued access for one dollar songs were probably driving Apple nuts. For a video example of the same phenomenon, see Major League Baseball and DRM.

    > I think you should seek another more effective target (there are several)

    Absolutely agree on this. But they almost all boil down to Apple’s sense of their own entitlement to exert control over consumer devices that they have theoretically sold to others.

    > RIAA/MPAA positions for Apple and Google are identical as best as I can tell.

    Perhaps closer than one might like, but certainly not identical, else google would have already inked that deal with the RIAA member companies.

  97. @tmoney:

    This seems a lot like the whining that happened when Sony removed the 3pp OS boot option from the PS3. It sucked sure, but ultimately, it was still the users choice, no one forced them to install the update.

    Umm, they had to not install the update if they wanted to continue to use Linux, or install the update if they wanted to continue gaming over the network. See Hobson’s Choice. Once you understand that this is a real, and not theoretical, problem for at least some people, then you will be on the path to enlightment about the consequences of Apple’s behavior.

  98. Eric, Glenn Reynolds, et al. complaining about DRM : diplomacy :: purchasing decisions : war

  99. >Almost nobody is so stupid as to be unable to use a “clean” version of Android that a hacker has chosen to provide.

    It’s not about stupidity. It’s about knowledge and time. People have neither the time nor the knowledge to install a different operating system on their phone. In fact, I would be willing to bet that most people don’t even think of there being an operating system running on their phone. The general population is going to run whatever OS is served up to them on a slate. The only time they are ever going to change that is when they are sent a nice new shiny update from their OS vendor.

    I would be willing to bet that less than 1% of the population has ever even *contemplated* removing their OS and installing a different one, on *any* computing platform, let alone a phone, for any other reason than Microsoft/Apple/Google telling them they needed to. In fact, most people wouldn’t even understand the concept.

  100. >Umm, they had to not install the update if they wanted to continue to use Linux, or install the
    >update if they wanted to continue gaming over the network.

    Over the PSN, which is someone else’s property, which they have control over. It’s a shitty choice don’t get me wrong, and it was shitty of Sony to have their users make that choice. But if we’re talking about control over what you own, the ability to game over the PSN isn’t part of that. This is the fundamental danger of buying any device that relies on the continued graces of another company for some sort of functionality. The carriers could do the same thing with your android phone, install the latest update, or disconnect your service.

  101. From wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FairPlay#Steve_Jobs.27_Thoughts_on_Music_open_letter

    “Steve Jobs’ Thoughts on Music open letter

    On February 6, 2007, Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Inc., published an open letter entitled Thoughts on Music on the Apple website calling on the “big four” music companies to sell their music without DRM.[17] According to Jobs, Apple does not want to use DRM but is forced by the four major musical labels with whom Apple negotiates contracts for iTunes. Jobs’s main points were:
    DRM has never and will never be perfect. Hackers will always find a method to break DRM.
    DRM restrictions only hurt people using music legally. Illegal users aren’t affected by DRM.
    The restrictions of DRM encourage users to obtain unrestricted music which is usually only possible via illegal methods.
    The vast majority of music is sold without DRM via CDs which has proven successful.

    2 years later, Apple removed all music DRM from iTunes.

    So maybe Apple isn’t the pure evil spawn of satan?

  102. @tmoney:

    > The carriers could do the same thing with your android phone, install the latest update, or disconnect your service.

    Not in the new LTE spectrum…

  103. (btw, the article I point to says that Jobs was pointing out that DRM was ineffective way back in 2003. He’s not stupid. But recognizing the reality, and explaining how trying to fight against the reality is pointless (when fighting against the reality is difficult for his business) doesn’t make him a saint.

  104. Tom:

    It’s not about stupidity. It’s about knowledge and time.

    I know what you’re saying. I’m saying two things. One, most people would eventually summon the activation energy to either fix their problem, or find someone who can. Two, the people who can fix this problem are simultaneously incentivized to meet the former people halfway, and lower the activation energy needed.

    It doesn’t matter that most people can’t patch their OS or even grasp the concept of an OS; if they can work their smartphone well enough to browse the web and push buttons, then they can find the instructions that say “push here to fix your phone problem”, and be reasonably assured that it won’t make their problem worse. Meanwhile, some hacker will be trying to fix the OS and put it where everyone can use it with a button press. The hacker wants to do this, because the hacker knows the fewer people have this problem, the less difficult the hacker’s life.

  105. > doesn’t make him a saint.

    I don’t think anybody was arguing that he was! The only point is that there is a pretty reasonable case to be made that, to the extent that Apple has implemented DRM, they have done so mainly in response to music industry pressure. We can’t be sure, of course, but I think that is a pretty reasonable explanation for the timeline of events and statements we have seen from Apple since it got into the business.

    The broader point is that, just maybe, Apple is not the evil, cat-stroking, corporate villain that many in the open-source crowd make it out to be.

  106. I consider that Apple must behave more honestly than Google.

    Apple depends upon selling premium devices to users who can take their money elsewhere if they disagree. With Apple’s strategy of high margins on non-monopoly market share, ticking off your customers is not a good idea – and the reason why Apple has adopted pro-consumer stances (lack of music DRM, no sharing of consumer data) despite its supposed “evil” nature.

    Google has no such incentive besides its own corporate conscious, as no end-user consumer can directly hold it responsible. Every corporation is beholden to its public image, but Apple is beholden to customer goodwill in a way that Google is not.

    When given a choice between a man who says he is good and a man who is compelled by others to be good, I think the latter might be a safer bet.

  107. > The broader point is that, just maybe, Apple is not the evil, cat-stroking, corporate villain that many in the open-source crowd make it out to be.

    Apple does some things that are good (just like Bill Gates these days). But the fact that they can even countenance approaching some issues they way that they do says that, at a minimum, their definition of evil doesn’t align with mine. Because a lot of what they do fits my definition of evil. Now I’m nobody. One question that is being circuitously debated here is — how many nobodies like me are there, and will it impact Apple’s bottom line?

    Given that way back in March, more consumers expressed preference for Android for their next phone than for Apple, it could mean that Android is already ahead on features. Or it could mean that there are more nobodies in my camp than some people seem to think.

  108. >Meanwhile, some hacker will be trying to fix the OS and put it where everyone can use it with a button press.

    Which is great, but unfortunately the bad guys are doing this as well, and non-techies can’t distinguish between the two. It would be a *really* bad idea to encourage normal people go about pressing buttons on the web that promise to fix their computers. The way for normal people to fix their problems is to complain to their OS vendor. If they say ‘sorry, the camera thing is a feature to save the music industry, not a bug’ then the next step is to ditch your OS vendor and switch to Apple, or Google, or Nokia, or whichever company has responded to market pressures and dropped the ‘feature’ (or not implemented it in the first place).

    I love open-source software, and I love downloading crazy new things from hackers, but I know what I am doing (or so I tell people). For most users it is not a sensible solution.

  109. @twilightomni:

    Google has no such incentive besides its own corporate conscious, as no end-user consumer can directly hold it responsible. Every corporation is beholden to its public image, but Apple is beholden to customer goodwill in a way that Google is not.

    I think you severely underestimate the impact that google’s reputation makes to its bottom line. People have other search options, and they certainly have other email options.

    And from a more direct business side, the people who actually pay money to google for clicks will stop paying if they suspect that google is somehow complicit in any kind of click fraud.

  110. @tmoney
    > But if we’re talking about control over what you own, the ability to game over the PSN isn’t part of that.

    OK, PSN aside. How about being able to simply play a store-purchased game on the system? Because pretty much any game released after the Other OS-disabling update _requires_ updating to the latest (usually supplied) firmware or else you can’t play it.

    So, for gamers, it wasn’t an option. You could keep your Other OS, and be stuck forever playing only the games that came out before the update, or accept the update and lose functionality that was advertised at sale. Keep in mind that Sony’s lifetime plan for the PS3 is a _10 year_ cycle, and they pulled this bullshit well within the first half of that.

    Sony’s action was a direct violation of consumer trust, and absolutely an Evil(tm) move.

  111. >a lot of what they do fits my definition of evil

    I honestly think this use of the word ‘evil’ is half our trouble. It is vague, and it encourages poorly defined debate.

    >will it impact Apple’s bottom line?

    Well, again, I wonder what you mean by ‘it’. I guess you mean a general perception that Apple has behaved in some morally reprehensible fashion. I am not sure whether such a general perception exists, but Apple’s bottom line seems pretty healthy these days (being, as it is, the world’s most profitable handset maker).

  112. The way for normal people to fix their problems is to complain to their OS vendor. If they say ‘sorry, the camera thing is a feature to save the music industry, not a bug’ then the next step is to ditch your OS vendor and switch to Apple, or Google, or Nokia, or whichever company has responded to market pressures and dropped the ‘feature’ (or not implemented it in the first place).

    And what if none of these companies drops the “feature”?

  113. >And what if none of these companies drops the “feature”?

    What if, what if, what if! We could play that game forever. :)

    I find such a prospect highly unlikely. It would constitute a severe free-market failure, and there would have to be an extremely good reason for it.

  114. @Patrick Maupin “Given that way back in March, more consumers expressed preference for Android for their next phone than for Apple, it could mean that Android is already ahead on features. Or it could mean that there are more nobodies in my camp than some people seem to think.”

    You really perceived evilness had much effect on this? Android is more popular because of a variety of reasons that are much bigger than “closed” vs “open”

    the 3 biggies IMO:
    1) price
    2) more carriers
    3) more supply

  115. > And what if none of these companies drops the “feature”?

    Sounds like an excellent entrepreneurial opportunity for someone who wants to cause a little disruption, to me. And, hey, Android’s open source, so all one has to do is strip out the ‘feature’ and throw together some hardware.

  116. Feh. This is nothing. Ever since the dumbphone days law enforcement has been able to switch on your cellphone’s mic and use it to spy on you without your permission or interaction, even when the cellphone is nominally turned “off”. This is a real thing; arrests and convictions have been obtained by this method. And yes, it is admissible in court.

  117. “The appropriate response in this situation is not suppress and criminalize photography but to suppress and criminalize the sale of unauthorized reproductions. That response protects his property rights without infringing on my liberty.”

    And the other appropriate response is to simply tell people caught photographing the art to leave the gallery.

  118. “‘Almost nobody is a hacker’

    “‘This really needs to be emblazoned in forty-foot-high letters of fire on every open-source community website.'”

    And only hackers will A) notice there are giant* flaming letters (much larger than the displays used by most hackers)+ on every open-source community website, then B) Do the trivial hack that will allow them to read said letters. The resulting Zen-like illumination…will not happen.

    On that note, there seems to be great assurance on the part of many that Apple would never, ever, ever implement this patent. This would seem to overlook the willingness of most multinats to find a way (face-saving and deniable whenever possible) to kiss whatever the larger governments want them to kiss as the price of doing biz with minimal hamperage. –And the patent filing just told ‘em Apple could do it. It only takes one to do the leaning and the rest get a free ride….
    _________________________________
    * I suppose someone will tell me it is relatively easy to get this to scale properly to everyone’s display?

    + You know he or she is out there with a 50′ display, chortling like an ape with a handful of something nasty and an easy target.

  119. @jsk: Which is precisely my point.

    @Tom: We could play “what if” a long time, yes. :-) We could also add 1/2 and 1/4 and 1/8 and… a long time as well. And just as with many infinite series, we can sometimes see an asymptote being reached.

    Plug in all the players and their incentives, and let the iterative engine fly. The more companies try to leverage their closed-source device over their subscribers, the more their subscribers will desire an alternative. The greater that desire, the more some player will try to meet it. If that player is yet another closed-source vendor, he’ll either play ball with the rest of the cartel, or not – and if he doesn’t, he’ll eventually win the market, huzzah! …and as the years wear on, will become the new cartel.

    That cycle could last a long, long time. Centuries in some cases. One generation of cartel replacing the one before. Which is stable, in a sense – but it also means everyone’s quality of life is increasing very, very slowly, if not decreasing.

    If enough people figure out this cycle is happening, not because of some innate limit in extrahuman nature, but rather because of artificial limitations imposed by one generation of guild after another, and enough of these people see the means to bypass it, will they put in the sweat to overcome that artificial limitation and shift the rate of increase of quality of life into higher gear, or will they decide it’s not worth it and go back to storing their food in the river, missing 4/5 musket shots, walking into town once a month, and complaining about the taste of Coors?

    Now. We can play this game with smartphones, or we can jump to the ending we should all see coming. Why repeat history?

  120. >Not in the new LTE spectrum…

    It is more difficult to be sure, but we are only one “interest of national security” or other big concern away from that changing. It’s also worth noting that the only reason this is true is due to an intrusion of government into private property rights, which is designed to fix a flaw caused by a previous government intrusion into private property rights.

    >at a minimum, their definition of evil doesn’t align with mine.

    We already established this when you said that Apple exercising control over their app store to provide the stated purpose and experience of the store “evil”. (at least I’m fairly sure it was you I was having this conversation with)

  121. >That cycle could last a long, long time. Centuries in some cases. One generation of cartel replacing the one before. Which is stable, in a sense – but it also means >everyone’s quality of life is increasing very, very slowly, if not decreasing.

    You paint quite a picture!

    I just don’t see the evidence for this scenario. Where is this ‘cartel’, and where are the dreadful iniquities that they are foisting on us unsuspecting peons?

  122. The claim here is that there is no cartel – this time – because one of the players decided not only to break away from the current one, but to structure its business so that it couldn’t become the next in the series.

  123. >The claim here is that there is no cartel – this time – because one of the players decided not only to break away from the current one, but to structure its business so that it couldn’t become the next in the series.

    When you talk about ‘the current one’ (the current cartel?) are you talking about Apple? Or a group of companies that includes Apple?

  124. I wrote: “Tom, perhaps the market won’t tolerate it. But it helps to generate some intolerance early on. Otherwise, you’ll see this kind of nonsense stuck on a piece of legislation bought and paid-for by RIAA/MPAA .”

    Tom replied: “I have no objection to letting it be known that such a technology would be opposed, but it seems a bit overblown to get so worked up about it at this stage when there is absolutely no reason to think it will ever become a reality.”

    Perhaps you can outline the exact stage where I am no longer “overblown”. Is this like the seven or however many stages of confronting death. It is important to me to avoid being excessively blown.

    ” I would also point out that any attempt to pass legislation to mandate something like this would affect Android just as much as iOS.”

    Trying to draw me into some sort of iOS / Android debate when the topic is an Apple patent is just a non sequitur.

  125. >Trying to draw me into some sort of iOS / Android debate when the topic is an Apple patent is just a non sequitur.

    I was really responding (including the ‘overblown’ comment) to Eric’s post rather than anything you said. His post clearly takes this patent application and tries to fit it into his ongoing pattern of iOS (and other closed-source platforms) vs Android posts.

  126. >His post clearly takes this patent application and tries to fit it into his ongoing pattern of iOS (and other closed-source platforms) vs Android posts.

    Had I intended that, I would have given it a “The Smartphone Wars” tag. The issue here is larger than the iOS/Android war, though that has become an important place where the large conflict is being played out.

  127. >Sorry, but I am not at all sold that Linux and BSD are remotely appropriate yet as desktop OSes

    I don’t actually grant the premise.

    I don’t actually grant the permise that Windows is appropriate as a desktop OS, but what do I know? :-P Seriously, all the people harping on how you have to edit configuration files on a Linux desktop needs to get a reality check and count the number the times they’ve edited a Windows registry setting or downloaded a special program written to tweak Windows registry settings there otherwise exists no UI for. Windows doesn’t win points for usability in other areas, either.

    Mind you, I’m not saying OS X is much better.

  128. Hey, once upon a time, Linux had 100% of the netbook market. Didn’t last though. People wanted Windows.

    Nobody wants an Android phone, either. Android is a substitute good, and fills a void where iPhone wasn’t available on some carriers. And in a similar way, Android’s market share will fall. It’s unlikely that Androids market share will be any higher in December 2012 than it is now.

    And yes, since it’s growing now, that means the rocket will have run of fuel, and will be losing altitude F that point.

    As for Apple being evil, it’s Google, not Apple that is operating under a 20 year restrictive agreement with the DoJ.

  129. Life as we know it Says,

    > As for Apple being evil, it’s Google, not Apple that is operating under a 20 year restrictive agreement with the DoJ.

    For what? Martha Stewart was railroaded. Was Google?

    Yours,
    Tom

  130. I’m not convinced this invention has much to do with DRM of the usual sort. One error here is to forget that Apple is focused on the customer experience, where the customer is the person using the device, not BMI/ASCAP. Given that this is a regular patent, that it isn’t some secret feature being snuck onto phones by the NSA and that it would do the recording cartels no good whatsoever to prevent only *one* brand of phone from recording concerts, the conclusion ya’ll are leaping to is probably not the right one.

    No, the *right* question to ask yourself is: when would an end user *directly benefit* from their phone having this feature?

    Maybe this is about high security applications. Suppose you work on something really top-secret, where there is a fair chance of government or corporate espionage – some place where they’re so paranoid about security that there are *absolutely no cameras allowed inside* including cellphone cameras. Right now that means you have to leave your iPhone outside the secured area. But then nobody can *call* you, not to mention that letting your phone out of your sight is *also* potentially a big security risk. The upshot is that somebody in that situation basically has to stick with a dumbphone or no phone at all – iPhones are no good there.

    But wait! Suppose we enable this! Now, employee-issued iPhones are the *only* smartphone allowed in, because it has this unique feature – one can mark presentations and physical spaces “do not record here* using an infrared beacon. Now Apple can sell lots of iPhones to the CIA or whoever.

  131. The settlement on Google’s ‘Buzz’ requires Google to establish and maintain a comprehensive privacy program, as well as allow audits conducted by independent third parties every two years to assess its practices over the next 20 years.

    And it was with the FTC, not DoJ.
    http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2011/03/google.shtm

    The issue with the DoJ was about Google taking and displaying ads for illegal pharmaceuticals. Google set aside $500 million to pay the fine.

    (but apparently I don’t add any value here.)

  132. Nobody wants an Android phone, either. Android is a substitute good, and fills a void where iPhone wasn’t available on some carriers.

    I probably shouldn’t bite here, but…if this was true, then you’d expect a huge jump in Apple’s market share/drop in Android’s when iPhone became available on Verizon. As far as I can tell, this didn’t happen (in fact, I seem to recall a post here written in a rather smug tone highlighting that lack-of-happening).

    And the trivial rebuttal: I want an Android phone. I do not want an iPhone. Assuming I count as somebody, your premise is now disproved.

  133. And Apple successfully got the record companies to drop DRM.

    And will still only let iTunes sync with iStuff, and has a MAC on the file database on iStuff that exists for the sole purpose of preventing iStuff from syncing with Banshee or Amarok.

  134. Aside: Amarok and Banshee (and Winamp) sync with my classic iPod pretty well. I don’t think that applied to the iPhone/iOS, but then again the last time I tried was in 2008. The drivers may have gotten a little better since then.

    Had I intended that, I would have given it a “The Smartphone Wars” tag. The issue here is larger than the iOS/Android war, though that has become an important place where the large conflict is being played out.

    You mean the issue is bigger than Apple and relates to how all closed ecosystems will eventually assert liberty-infringing control upon their denizens, or are you chiefly saying this will be a unique failing of Apple’s? As the article is titled “walled garden” I find it probably the latter, but then again I also think that targeting is kind of…inconsistent. Apple certainly isn’t unique among closed-source ecosystems for wanting control.

  135. >You mean the issue is bigger than Apple and relates to how all closed ecosystems will eventually assert liberty-infringing control upon their denizens, or are you chiefly saying this will be a unique failing of Apple’s?

    The former, as I thought I made clear near the end of the post. How much clearer can I get than saying “But singling out Apple would be to miss the forest for one tree”? Sheesh…

  136. I speak as a huge Apple fan when I say–I completely agree with you. When I first heard about this, I thought I was missing something. Literally the very first thing I thought was that governments would love this and there was no way that Apple would actually build this into their hw/sw. But it looks like they’re clear on the concept. There’s not a whole lot of room for error in interpreting what they’re intending with this.

    The only thing I can think of would be that Apple’s locking up the patent on this so that nobody can do it. But I’m clear that’s pretty close to wish-casting on my part. I don’t want Apple to be that evil. That doesn’t mean they won’t be….

    If they enable this technologically, I will boycott Apple. That’s an extremely painful path for me to follow. I am just about ready to release my iOS app. I have plans to “port” it to Android. Those plans are now being accelerated. The end game would be to move completely to Android, and drop iOS support, should our worst fears come true.

    This sucks.

  137. While a lot of people here are giving credit to Apple for going DRM free, my memory is despite Steve’s talk about how DRM was bad, it was Amazon who really pushed us into the DRM free world (of music) we are in today. Checking, it wasn’t until 2009 that all of iTunes went DRM free, while Amazon was doing it in 2007. So saying “they pushed for DRM removal” is hardly truthful.

  138. @Cathy, sadly, prior art basically doesn’t exist anymore. Either something is patented already, or it’s patentable. Doesn’t matter how obvious it is. Doesn’t matter if it’s been described already. Doesn’t matter if it’s been published in the Bell System Technical Journal, or whatever.

  139. I must say that I am shocked at the level of hysteria and ignorance about the basic facts evident in this conversation. I know it rude to introduce facts in such a conversation but I committed the faux pax of actually looking at the patent application.

    The parent and many others seem to be under the delusion that this is some kind of jamming system. It isn’t. It is nothing more than an augmented reality system. It employs the unused infrared spectrum of the common digital camera to “tags” broadcasting in IR. The tags function as nothing more than invisible signs. Once the device reads a sign it can them be programed to take any arbitrary action. The Apple patent, which legally must be as broad as possible, list many potential actions, one of which is having the device respond to a tag/sign that says, “it is illegal to record images here” by disabling its camera.

    So, basically, everyone is hyperventilating over a functionality inherent in any technology that lets a device know where it is and what its surroundings are. You could accomplish exactly the same thing with GPS, cell phone tower triangulation, wi-fi hotspots or any of the many crowd sourced information pools that augmented reality systems use.

    The parent really needs to learn something about patents and what they mean to technology companies. He really needs to learn to read patents and be able to distinguish between the technology being patented and example usage. The former must work but the later are nothing but mere postulation. In this case the actually technology being offered for patent is the augmented reality tags and the camera blocking nothing but a **speculative** example of how the tags might be used.

    Does the parent or anyone else believe we should outlaw augmented reality development as a dire threat to our liberties? Because that is all that is going on here. Anyone creating an augmented reality system is creating a system that could be used to disable cameras or any other arbitrary function based on location.

    I think this is all much ado about nothing or more accurately, generating scare stories for fun and profit.

  140. >The tags function as nothing more than invisible signs. Once the device reads a sign it can them be programed to take any arbitrary action. The Apple patent, which legally must be as broad as possible, list many potential actions, one of which is having the device respond to a tag/sign that says, “it is illegal to record images here” by disabling its camera

    The key question is then whether the user gets to treat these tags as advisory or mandatory. If they’re mandatory, we’re right back at the situation where Apple has assisted a random third party to seize control of a device you ostensibly own. This would be unacceptable; it has all the civil-liberties implications I was iinitially concerned about.

  141. Nobody wants an Android phone, either. Android is a substitute good, and fills a void where iPhone wasn’t available on some carriers.

    I would have said this two years or even one year ago. Frankly, today it’s horseshit. The situation in the US is greatly exaggerated here in Japan, where I’m vacationing. Android phones are fucking everywhere. They are presented in shops with nice, Apple-Store-like retail positioning, and even friendly staff to answer any questions you might have. Even SoftBank, the iPhone carrier, is promoting Android phones pretty heavily.

    Oh yeah, and Android tablets are pretty hot here too, much more so than in the US. The Xoom and the Galaxy Tab are readily available, but there are also a few Japan-only brands.

    It’s the lesson of the Mac/PC wars: Apple will always be the gold standard for $DEVICE, but when a more open and ubiquitous form of $DEVICE becomes available, as strong as Apple is they cannot outdo the sheer size and diversity of the open-$DEVICE ecosystem.

  142. Shannon Love,

    Eric has always (rightly imho) voiced his opposition to schemes to enable third parties to remotely control devices without the owner’s permission. The technology described in the patent is no worse — and no better — than broadcast flags. But broadcast flags in their own right are themselves pretty bad: devices designed to accept instruction from unknown third parties can easily be used to betray you.

    Eric’s problem is that as Dylan sang, “the times they are a changin'”. The massive weight of legal opinion is against people like him and myself for the simple reason that lawyers, legislators, and the corporate stakeholders who largely influence legal decision in the USA are not hackers, and simply do not grok the ethical issues involved. And, as I mentioned, that’s not even the worst of the issues. The really scary shit happens when the government has the right to turn on your cellphone and use it to spy on you and your surroundings. This has already happened, and you’re living in a dream world if you think that Android phones do not or will not implement this “feature”. And if it becomes known that things like CyanogenMod disable law enforcement tampering with your device, within a month Congress will have passed a law authorizing the feds to remote-kill your cellphone if it is suspected of running unauthorized ROMs.

    To quote Soldier, “Welcome to the United States of You Just Got Dominated!”

  143. You don’t have to be able to write CyanogenMod, but just to install it (i.e. follow instructions) to be able to take use of the fac that Android is (largely) open source. So there… not everybody must be a hacker, but open-source still trumps closed-source walled garden.

  144. not(Andy Rubin),

    > The settlement on Google’s ‘Buzz’ requires Google to establish and maintain a comprehensive privacy program, as well as allow audits conducted by independent third parties every two years to assess its practices over the next 20 years.

    > And it was with the FTC, not DoJ.
    > http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2011/03/google.shtm

    > The issue with the DoJ was about Google taking and displaying ads for illegal pharmaceuticals. Google set aside $500 million to pay the fine.

    > (but apparently I don’t add any value here.)

    Thanks for the link and the info. Both were valuable.

    Yours,
    Tom

  145. I generally agree with you, ESR, but I think you are taking the argument too far: “We come near the territory of Orwell’s “1984? here; Apple’s video-suppressing devices would create memory holes.” What happened back then when neither the Internet nor electronic photography / recording was technologically feasible? Was it an Orwellian society? Although it would be really bad to let it taken away and this is a very good argument for using OS tech, it wouldn’t really eradicte freedom, just set it back the level of 1980’s technological level. There are no reasons to tolerate but there aren’t any reasons to get too scared by it either. I have the feeling you are practicing in this blog article for a speech or an article in some popular medium where powerful rather than accurate rhetorics is the way to go… Similarly, the proper verb that describes what to do about Android devices is “buy”, not “demand” – there is no reason to demand stuff that’s already available on the market.

  146. BTW I don’t get the economic motive behind it. What moron downloads / views cellphone recordings of movies or concerts when they can just as easily pirate the movies and music albums in good quality with f.e. Torrent? All that cell phone concert recordings really do is to annoy the living crap out of you whenever you are looking for an official music video or official concert recording on YouTube. Do they seriously think this is a serious competition for the recording and movie industries? What could be the possible economic motive for it? It’s like as if high-end restaurants would be afraid of crappy fast-food venues eating into their market share…

  147. “I have seen artists in a public place with their paintings for sale, leaning up against a wall, who have put up a big sign reading “No photography”. ”

    With all due respect, such artists are morons – a photo is not a replacement for a painting but a free advertisement for it.

  148. Pingback: Daily news for 2011-06-17 | TekNerve!

  149. @Shenpen:

    What happened back then when neither the Internet nor electronic photography / recording was technologically feasible? Was it an Orwellian society?

    You’re missing an important difference: technology changes cultures. Just as we (mostly) don’t make cave paintings anymore or cuneiform onto clay tablets, we’re also shifting away from writing things down and towards video recording, audio recording, and still photography. Once the technology becomes sufficiently convenient, I expect that vlogging, photo blogging and audio blogging will mostly replace old-fashioned text blogging for all except a few of us holdouts.

  150. * As much as I respect Den Beste’s mind, he’s wrong about why Linux did/is/will fail as a mainstream desktop OS. It’s not about too many distributions, it’s about massive suckitude. I’ve been using Linux since 1993, off and on, and doing Unix/Linux professionally (most) since 1995/96. I’ve used Linux on my work and home desktops off and on that whole time (depending on company standards and what I could get away with). It’s not just the inconsistency of KDE/GNOME/X, it’s fucked up drivers (my current employer does some interesting work, and we use NVIDIA cards in ALL our linux workstations), it’s random crashes of firefox, it’s weird screen redraws. These things don’t/rarely happen in Windows anymore, and MacOS? absolutely not.

    * Google Evil v.s. Apple Evil. DRM’d music v.s. Great Firewall of China. Hmm…I’m going to have to think long and hard about that…NOT.

    * Having to open a file/registry on your OS: My wife used some random second-tier laptop (meaning not a Mac or top of the line Dell/IBM) for about 4 years for internet and random home shit. Never opened the registry, and never even reinstalled the OS. It Just Worked.

  151. Mr. Greywolf:

    You’re missing an important difference: technology changes cultures. Just as we (mostly) don’t make cave paintings anymore or cuneiform onto clay tablets, we’re also shifting away from writing things down and towards video recording, audio recording, and still photography. Once the technology becomes sufficiently convenient, I expect that vlogging, photo blogging and audio blogging will mostly replace old-fashioned text blogging for all except a few of us holdouts.

    I hope you’re wrong. I fear you’re right.

    Photography, and to a greater extent Video are tools of the propigandist. Even more so than text they can be used to hid the truth and to manipulate emotions.

  152. >What happened back then when neither the Internet nor electronic photography / recording was technologically feasible?

    Social memory worked differently then. It is a matter of historical fact that before still photography, eyewitness testimony had more authority than it had after. Today we live in the world of “Pictures or it didn’t happen” – and in the future it will be more difficult for unrecorded events to have psychologicak heft.

  153. We also live in a world where the government has access to that very same technology. Giving them a monopoly on deciding who uses it and who doesn’t gives them an enormous advantage.

    Technology in the hands of the people gives them (us!) the ability to monitor and limit our government. This is really no different than the argument for the right to bear arms. The whole point of the Second Amendment is to keep the government from having a monopoly on fire power. This is a different kind of fire power. But it is no less important a concept. He who controls the information, controls the world.

  154. ESR,

    The key question is then whether the user gets to treat these tags as advisory or mandatory.

    No, the key questions are (1) whether there is any inherent technological linkage between the IR tags and disabling the camera or any function and (2) whether the IR tags present some kind of special or unique technological danger.

    The answer to both is: NOPE.

    Face it, you and a lot of other people got taken in by hysterical second, third and forth hand ravings and failed to check the readily available original patent application. Since you didn’t look at the original material, you missed that the IR augmented reality tag present no greater danger than any other technology that makes a device location or environment aware.

    Here let me demonstrate with a fake news story that is utterly true, sounds like a massive danger but is actually meaningless:

    It may soon be possible for any government, or any hacker, to disable or alter any function of any computing device by doing nothing more than sending a coded text message.

    Computer security and privacy advocate Shannon Love today announced that he had discovered that Apple Computer and perhaps other manufactures have inserted into their hardware and operating system capabilities to monitor text messaging and to subsequently disable any function on the device based on the coded instruction in a text message.

    “Anybody who receives text messages is vulnerable to having their device completely hijacked by anyone who knows the command code,” Love said, “Even worse, it’s not necessarily limited to text messages. Any form of communication, even file sharing could be used to transmit the command override code. It’s truly shocking.”

    Love discovered the disturbing capability after examining Apple’s patents and operating system documentation. “They’re really brazen about it. All the information about the command override is just laying out there. All you have to do is put it together. Clearly, they don’t see this as a big deal and that is disturbing in itself.

    Love cautioned that there was no direct evidence that any shipping Apple product contained the command override but noted, “It would only take a few hundred lines of code to activate the command override so it could appear in any device at anytime with the ordinary user’s knowledge.”

    It is possible that all other operating systems have the same override built-in and waiting to be activated, “Even Linux is not immune,” Love noted, “especially if governments begin to require the override as a matter of law.”

    Apple Computer, Google and Microsoft had no comment on Love’s claims. The Department of Homeland Security said there are no plans to require the command override at this time.

    Dun-dun-duuuuuuuuuh! Panicking yet? Why not? Absolutely everything in the pseudo-story is true. All operating systems do have the capability to monitor text messages or any other communication. All operating systems could be quickly configured to disable functions based on the recent of a specific text message or other communications. Apple’s patents no doubt detail some of the technology such a system would use. It would only take a few hundred lines of code to add the functionality. Shouldn’t we all be banging away at our keyboards like meth-addled howler monkeys?

    Well, no, because there is no direct or required technological linkage between any text messaging protocol and a command override. Even more so, there is no economic case for why such a technology would sell absent government mandate. .

    The Apple IR tags fit present the same level of threat. It could be used in to shut of cameras but the capability to do so is no more inherent in the technology than it is in any of the text messaging technology. End of discussion.

    If we panic over every highly theoretical threat we won’t have the time and resource to deal with concrete immediate threats. Worse yet, we risk being “the boy who cried wolf” after false alarm after false alarm, non-geeks will just stop listening to warnings. We can’t be lazy and get swept up in hysterias propagated by second and third hand sources. The public must be willing to listen to us when we do find a real threat.

    This is something we have to get right.

  155. @Shannon:

    I think the simple fact that Apple even _suggested_ the disable-camera use case is worth concern. It’s not that it’s ‘only one possible use,’ it’s that Apple even brought it into the discussion at all.

  156. >Since you didn’t look at the original material, you missed that the IR augmented reality tag present no greater danger than any other technology that makes a device location or environment aware.

    You seem to have completely missed the actual point of my original post. When you say “IR augmented reality tag present no greater danger than any other technology that makes a device location or environment aware” you are entirely correct. I don’t think anybody involved in this discussion would dispute that for a second; your argument is pushing against an open door, there. What you’re ignoring – but illustrating, nevertheless, with your fake news story – is the other, far more important, component of the threat.

    Pardon me while I quote myself. “As we become increasingly dependent on computers and the Internet to mediate our communications with others, the integrity of our social and political networks requires that we have complete control of those computers.” That’s the key point. It’s the prospect that closed-source software can cede control of our video cameras to a third party that bothers us, not the particular mechanism that might be used to activate that logic.

    Since you hang out at Chicagoboyz, the right referent for you may be “asymmetrical information”. The prospect of having our video cameras shut off in a way we can’t prevent is the worrying part. Your fake news story is in fact on point. The prospect of having our communications interdicted by monitoring and filtering software buried in OSes is in fact enough to send us banging away at our keyboards like your meth-addled howler monkeys. I should say “was enough”, because we solved that problem nearly two decades ago, by creating open-source operating systems for which multiple build chains are distributed among enough different parties that a trust attack probably isn’t feasible even for an entity with the resources of a major nation-state.

    The flap over this patent filing is best understood as another incident in the long memetic war between closed and open-source software. A war which, thankfully for anyone who loves liberty, open source is winning.

  157. @jsk:

    > I think the simple fact that Apple even _suggested_ …

    Where “suggested” is too mild a verb by half. The first round of a patent application is something that, at a big company like Apple, is probably going to have a fully burdened cost (choosing what to patent, paying the bonus to the employee for the application, paying the lawyer to create the application, filing fees, etc.) upwards of $7000.

    Admittedly that’s chump change to Apple, but even if their process is so broken (patent nuclear arms race, etc.) that they are rushing to patent everything they can, the “shrill” posting that many are excoriating esr for is useful feedback for Apple and any other company that is paying attention that patents don’t happen in a vacuum any more. Groklaw has done a reasonable job of propagating this meme, but it needs to be propagated much more widely. The whole world is watching now. So, memo to Apple: before you spend multiple thousands of dollars, have a few people think about how the wider world will perceive your application…

  158. > if this is implemented, it will be unacceptable.

    That’s the problem. The fact that they’ve even _considered this_ is reason for alarm. If history has taught us anything, it’s that we humans are opportunistic. If the opportunity to capitalize or control presents itself, we will sieze it. The patent alone sets a precedent. Patents must be inspected and accepted by the government. By accepting the patent application, the government is not-so-subtly approving of using such technological measures to digitally disable the public. This makes the existence of free, open source software more important with each passing day.

  159. Tech question here for DRM’d media. Is there no tech gadgetry out there to capture drm’d video between video processing and the monitor?

  160. “we solved that problem nearly two decades ago, by creating open-source operating systems for which multiple build chains are distributed among enough different parties that a trust attack probably isn’t feasible even for an entity with the resources of a major nation-state.”

    so is the “probably” qualifier the only thing keeping rms from buying a cell phone?

    a phone that doesn’t let you take videos is less capable/valuable than a phone that does. so if we trust the market, (as when we say that rootability will increase sales of android) any manufacturer dumb enough to implement such a system will fail, closed-source or not.

  161. (but apparently I don’t add any value here.)

    Ah, well, there’s an exception to every rule.

  162. When you say “IR augmented reality tag present no greater danger than any other technology that makes a device location or environment aware” you are entirely correct.

    Wait, wait … “IR augmented reality” what? WTF? I got lost in Buzzword Bingo.

  163. > Tech question here for DRM’d media. Is there no tech gadgetry out there to capture drm’d video between video
    > processing and the monitor?

    You might notice a trend towards ubiquitous HDMI in devices. To be certified HDMI, you have to implement all the HDCP copy-protection logic. (Though, fortunately, that has been broken already). Traditional, non-encrypted video signal is going to be very rare at the consumer level within the next few years.

    Point being, studios and manufacturers are aware of that gap, and are seeking to close it, quietly, behind all the technical advancements happening.

  164. >Ah, well, there’s an exception to every rule.

    No need to be nasty. If not(Andy Rubin) is trying to clean up his act he should be encouraged, not mocked. I was remiss myself in not praising that comment. It moved him away from the ban threshold a bit.

  165. >Wait, wait … “IR augmented reality” what? WTF? I got lost in Buzzword Bingo.

    Clear enough what it means, even if I wouldn’t use “augmented reality” that way myself. Any application watching the camera is capable of noticing when an IR pulse train has a message for it, even as other apps are also using the video. Some people use AR for barcode recognizers operating through the camera, which is a similar concept.

  166. esr,

    So, you are admitting that the Apple IR augmented reality tags present no specific or novel threat but that you are just using the groundless hysteria as launching point for broader discussion? I’m okay with that but I don’t think people are reading it that way. I was directed here by one of my posters who was under the strong impression that you did regard the Apple IR augmented reality tags as a novel and serious threat. You might want to add a disclaimer to the parent to clear things up.

    “As we become increasingly dependent on computers and the Internet to mediate our communications with others, the integrity of our social and political networks requires that we have complete control of those computers.” That’s the key point

    Except that “complete control” is utterly mythical and unobtainable. You can never completely control your computing devices because you will never completely control your hardware. You can’t control your hardware because it takes the resources, experience and organizational skill of a major corporation to manufacture modern chips. What percentage of Linux installs today are running on either Intel chips or AMD clones? If a major government or group of governments all ordered Intel and AMD to provide a hardware override of some kind, what could the open source community do about it? Diddlely-squat, that’s what.

    Hardware control is the key factor his case because its obvious than any attempt to implement camera disabling in software would be completely useless.

    There are only two reasons why such a technology would see any significant use: Government mandate and market demand. Governments might decide that all mobile cameras need to have a disabling more many reasons fair and foul. Individuals might demand such a technology so they could take their phones or other devices into areas where recording is undesirable e.g. public bathrooms, locker rooms, classified facilities, confidential facilities (e.g. medical or banking record storage), private property or even those resorts-that-don’t-allow-cameras.

    It is immediately obvious that neither governments nor the managers of resorts-that-don’t-allow-cameras et al will trust a device whose camera disabling can itself be disabled in software. After all, you can’t tell an iPhone is jailbroken just by a brief visual examination so why would someone responsible for the girls locker room trust that an iPhone camera was really disabled if that disabling depended on hackable software?

    Device manufactures would have to heavily advertise that the disabling feature could not be circumvented by any means if they expected to please either governments or individual consumers. If we were to see such a function in camera equipped devices it would be implemented in low-level hardware that could not be overridden no matter how open the device’s software. And what would the open source community do about that? Let me reintroduce Mr. Squat and Ms. Diddlely.

    Since you hang out at Chicagoboyz, the right referent for you may be “asymmetrical information”.

    Well, if you read Chicagoboyz and similar sources you would know that asymmetrical information is impossible to prevent and attempts to do so always backfire.

    In the particular case of computers, someone, somewhere is always going to have more knowledge about every part of your system than you do. No one person can understand it all. That creates asymmetries of information that can and will be exploited.

    Open source might seem more transparent than proprietary systems but that is an illusion caused by ignoring various tradeoffs and by assuming that all users are technically proficient. For the ordinary non-specialist, open source is just as opaque as proprietary systems with the added disadvantage of having no one actually responsible for the systems.

    I would argue that you are creating a moral hazard by fostering the illusion of a level of control that does not exist for the general public. If people believe they have “complete” control over their Android device are they really going to pay attention to the possibility of hardware subversion? Since Android capable devices may come from many different manufactures from all over the planet, how confident could anyone be that their new devices hasn’t been compromised in hardware. After all, its not like they’ve necessarily bought their hardware from a company that has the most recognized brand and the most sensitive reputation in the entire world economy.

    And lets remember, we’re not talking about creating systems for a small percentage of computer specialist but rather generic systems for the vast majority of humanity, many in basically lawless countries, who have no idea how to directly examine their hardware or software. Telling such people they are perfectly safe because their OS and some of their apps are open source just sets them up for exploitation.

    The prospect of having our video cameras shut off in a way we can’t prevent is the worrying part.

    Agreed, but I think we’ve shown that this isn’t really a possibility in this case, haven’t we?

    I think in general you pay to much attention to highly theoretical technical threats while overlooking more powerful controlling factors such as economics and brand protection.

    In this specific case, how can you make viable economic model in which Apple will benefit by secretly turning their user’s cameras off without the user’s permission or knowledge? I mean, people are going to notice their cameras suddenly don’t work. It would have to be a payoff so big that a single use of it would justify utterly destroying a brand that taken 30+years to build. The fact that disabling cameras without the users permission can only hurt a companies bottom line provides way, way more practical protection than an army of unpaid geeks pouring over lines of code.

    Apple in particular is fanatical about its brand protection because the brand is their real core asset. Any failure by any Apple product anywhere damages the brand. Hell, any executive who took an action that seriously damaged the brand would face shareholder lawsuits at the very least. These non-technical factors provide a high level of end user security and control.

    You don’t get that type of non-technical protection with open source because there are no significant brands, no fiduciary responsibility and little market discipline. When the hysteria over Apple failing to delete a crowd sourced wi-fi spot list erupted, Apple got hauled before congress to explain. That is never going to happen with open source. If someone forgets to delete a file, it might or might not get noticed and might or might not get fixed in a timely fashion and if someone does suffer a real harm, there is no one to be held responsible. Open source provides protection only through technical means.

    I should say “was enough”, because we solved that problem nearly two decades ago, by creating open-source operating system…

    And yet strangely, millions of people all over the world are as we speak having their computers hijacked and turned to malicious purposes completely without their consent or knowledge. How did this mysterious set of circumstances come about if we solved the problem?

    I think what you meant to say is that we have theoretically solved the problem assuming everyone would stop using the software they actually use and would all use open source. Except, in reality, they don’t because open source doesn’t yet work for most people and won’t any time soon without major changes to its economic model.

    The fact that open source provides a high level of subversion protection at the software level doesn’t matter if it doesn’t otherwise provide the day-to-day functionality that the vast majority of people need. People don’t buy software to set there and not get subverted, they buy it as a practical tool to perform a practical task. Since open source doesn’t provide the practical tools that most people need, it’s security level is about as useful as tits on a boar for most people.

    The flap over this patent filing is best understood as another incident in the long memetic war between closed and open-source software. A war which, thankfully for anyone who loves liberty, open source is winning.

    Are you sure you don’t want to rephrase that because it sounds like your saying, “I know that the Apple patent doesn’t really poise a threat of any real significance but I am going to exploit the hysteria over it to provoke marketing fear, uncertainty and doubt in order to advance my own personal philosophical, technological and economic goals.”

    Remember, memes don’t have to be true to propagate.

    The truth is that the Apple IR augmented reality tags poise no particular threat of ever subverting users control over their devices without their knowledge. That in turn means that you can’t honestly use it as an example of the superior degree of control and safety you believe is granted by open source.

  167. I would like to speculate a little further on Apple.
    Is it true that in the US the 4th is not guaranteed protection for private info residing into commercial Internet distributed architecture ?
    So it means that iCloud is not quite safe from pure police inquiries.
    Which means that data coming from another countries (where you need the intervention of a judge to open your data box) is comparatively less safer than where they were originally.
    It means also certains differentiations of rights on authorship on documents that you are storing in fact abroad, are they juridically changing when they electronically cross borders ?

    There is also another Apple patent in the tubes which is the possibility to remotely force the opening of microphone or camera. It has been described has a security mean to discourage iPhone robbing. But it really does not sound well as it appears to be one of the multiple ways to spy on people.
    http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/06/expect-new-security-features-for-apples-find-my-iphone-service/240621/

  168. While a lot of people here are giving credit to Apple for going DRM free, my memory is despite Steve’s talk about how DRM was bad, it was Amazon who really pushed us into the DRM free world (of music) we are in today. Checking, it wasn’t until 2009 that all of iTunes went DRM free, while Amazon was doing it in 2007. So saying “they pushed for DRM removal” is hardly truthful.

    JHein, this is not quite right. Apple roped the music industry into iTunes because the majors had all failed to sell music online in their own ventures, and insisted on some form of DRM. Once iTunes took off, though, those same companies got worried: they didn’t want Apple to have too much control over them, so they were happy to give Amazon a non-DRM deal to counteract Apple. Apple never wanted DRM on music for its own sake, just to placate the music industry.

  169. Apple never wanted DRM on music for its own sake, just to placate the music industry

    Really? So why did they deliberately break Harmony? The music industry was perfectly happy with RealNetworks selling music for iPods, as evinced by the fact they were doing business with RealNetworks. The only thing Harmony did was undercut Apple’s ability to use DRM to lock RealNetworks out of selling music for the iPod, and the only thing breaking Harmony did was allow Apple to eliminate that competition.

    Apple was very happy to blame the music industry for the presence of the DRM in their PR, sure. But their actions show they were actively using and improving the DRM to further their own ends.

  170. Thierry,
    “Is it true that in the US the 4th is not guaranteed protection for private info residing into commercial Internet distributed architecture ?
    So it means that iCloud is not quite safe from pure police inquiries.”

    Data in the possession of third parties can often be obtained via a subpoena, which does not require a judge signing a warrant. The status of data on iCloud is unclear and we may see some expansion of the Fourth Amendment in the future, but indeed, I would not count on a formal warrant requirement to obtain access to your data.

    “Which means that data coming from another countries (where you need the intervention of a judge to open your data box) is comparatively less safer than where they were originally.”

    Yep.

    “It means also certains differentiations of rights on authorship on documents that you are storing in fact abroad, are they juridically changing when they electronically cross borders ?” I did not follow this question. Can you restate it? If you are refering to copyright law, currently the Berne Convention requires local jurisdiction law be applied without discrimination to original national origin of the work or author. Not sure how this differs. If someone in the United States infringed on the copyright of someone who resided in France, the frenchman would still have to come to the US to enforce his rights.

  171. So an interesting data point for me.

    There’s a crappy free paper that gets handed out at major public transport terminals on weekdays in Australia (talking about mX for those who live here :)). Usually it’s fairly trashy in what it publishes but last night i did a double take. They were talking about the Apple patent being potentially used to disable phones at a concert (Miley Cyrus was cited as an example).

    The reason this is interesting to me is that if you think that it’s just going to be random geeks that are interested in this, mX disagrees with you. It’s a paper for the punter masses, it has no particular axe to grind re: smartphones and it doesn’t have a tech section(at least i’ve never seen one), and it just front paged the concept that Apple is going to mess with your phone.

  172. Pingback: Evil Apple | KOPIS.DE

  173. Shannon, I can’t understand why you keep denying that this technology is new, interesting, and unlike any previous technologies, allow content producers to stop people from recording them. A GPS, you say? But it can’t tell which direction you’re pointing the camera in. A barcode? A barcode large enough to be reliably read would be large enough to be obtrusive. A radio signal? Not short-range enough; not directional; and prone to leakage outside from the desired area. Some other more unwieldy and/or expensive technology? This has to be implementable at a reasonable cost, otherwise it will never fly.

    Alarmism is appropriate, I believe.

  174. >So, you are admitting that the Apple IR augmented reality tags present no specific or novel threat but that you are just using the groundless hysteria as launching point for broader discussion?

    The threat is specific and novel, and the “hysteria” is not in any way groundless. The underlying asymmetry of information and power in closed-source software is not novel; I and my peers have been fighting against it – with considerable success – for a quarter century. This is another skirmish in that war.

    >Except that “complete control” is utterly mythical and unobtainable.

    This is true in an absolute logical sense, but it is not a reason to fight for open source and against schemes like Apple’s with any less determination. Every iota of control that we can put in the hands of individual smartphone users – as opposed to governments, corporations like Apple, or cartels like the RIAA/MPAA – is a good thing. The reasons are it’s a good thing are Libertarianism 101 and should not require explanation to anyone from Chicagoboyz.

    > If a major government or group of governments all ordered Intel and AMD to provide a hardware override of some kind, what could the open source community do about it? Diddlely-squat, that’s what.

    Don’t be so quick to assume that. I can’t be sure how we’d hack around a threat like that in advance of specifics about it, but I’m pretty confident we’d find a way. We’re a lot more intimate with the technology than the people who’d be trying to enforce a lock like that, and we’re rather smarter than them, too. The history around DRM, “content protection”, the Clipper chip, DVDCS, and encryption restrictions has lessons for anyone who wants to assume we can be contained in such a clumsy and obvious way. Yes, if they pushed us hard enough, we would start spinning our own hardware. Or, just as likely, subverting theirs.

    >Well, if you read Chicagoboyz and similar sources you would know that asymmetrical information is impossible to prevent and attempts to do so always backfire.

    Ms. Love, please stop wasting my time with cheap perfect-is-the-enemy-of-the-good rhetorical maneuvers. I am not stupid enough to be impressed by them, and I do not think you are stupid enough to actually mean what you appear to be saying. This one is just as bogus as your poor-mouthing about “complete control”. Symmetry of information, like user control of computing power, may not be 100% attainable, but it can be approached and steps towards it are a good thing. Hypotheticals about governments putting in a hardware override do not in any way negate the value of fighting for users to have ownership of the software in their computers and smartphones in the actual real world.

    >Open source might seem more transparent than proprietary systems but that is an illusion caused by ignoring various tradeoffs and by assuming that all users are technically proficient. For the ordinary non-specialist, open source is just as opaque as proprietary systems with the added disadvantage of having no one actually responsible for the systems.

    This is ignorance and your limiting preconceptions talking. It is refuted every day in the real world by, for example, hundreds of millions of people using open-source Android phones and enjoying real benefits from the openness of the source – for example, the fact that carriers have lost the ability to interdict tethering and hotspot capability. For open source to attack the information-asymmetry problem at the heart of software, it is not required that every user be technically proficient. It is sufficient that knowledgeable third parties – like, say, the CyanogenMod project, or myself (yes, I have software in every Android phone) be on the user’s side.

    You do not appear to understand that there is an entire subculture, millions strong, of open-source hackers who are doing their damnedest every day to protect you from technological threats to your liberty and to put more capability in your hands. This is the subculture that built the Internet you are now using to dismiss its concerns about that Apple patent as unfounded hysteria. But our concerns are neither unfounded nor hysteria; they are based on more knowledge of the technological and historical background than you have, and it is pretty damned ironically amusing to watch you posing as an expert in front of us.

    >The fact that disabling cameras without the users permission can only hurt a companies bottom line provides way, way more practical protection than an army of unpaid geeks pouring over lines of code.

    Again, this theory is refuted in the real world by the actual results of that army of unpaid geeks. You take most them for granted because you’re immersed in them – but, for example, we are the reason you have a World Wide Web in the first place. That is, as opposed to dozens or hundreds of balkanized corporate walled gardens like the old CompuServe/Genie/AOL systems on steroids. Another example: you can use strong cryptography and have communications privacy and take it for granted because we fought that battle for you, often against people who thought our concerns were unfounded hysteria.

    It is certain that you rely on code from those unpaid geeks every time you send email, use a browser, play on a game console, or pass packets through the router in your basement. The technological context we created constrains corporate power even more effectively than fear for their bottom line because we planned it that way at a time when nobody but engineers was paying attention to the communications architecture of the net.

    For example – the ability of anyone to have a blog without having to apply to a certification authority that hand out domains as a function of political or corporate privilege was not a given. We prevented that future from happening. We, far more than poets, have been the unacknowledged legislators of your world. And now, when we continue to exercise the eternal vigilence that is necessary to defend your liberty and our own, you have the gall to tell us we’re being hysterical.

    >How did this mysterious set of circumstances come about if we solved the problem?

    We can build solutions. We can’t force people to adopt them, and I wouldn’t want us to do so if we could.

    >I think what you meant to say is that we have theoretically solved the problem assuming everyone would stop using the software they actually use and would all use open source.

    No, the facts justify a much stronger assertion. To the extent that you do have software that is built to be resistant to subversion and addresses the information-asymmetry problem, it’s our doing. I’ve already cited Android. For another good example of a consumer-facing success, Firefox. For a third, less visible one, the software in your basement router is very likely a candy-colored shell over a stripped Linux kernel and webserver.

    >The fact that open source provides a high level of subversion protection at the software level doesn’t matter if it doesn’t otherwise provide the day-to-day functionality that the vast majority of people need.

    It’s particularly funny that you’re preaching this at me since, if the pathway your bits took to get to me is normal, you probably relied on software I personally wrote at about three different stages in the pipeline. Possibly more depending on your ISP setup. Er, that’s even if you weren’t posting from an Android phone.

    Do you get it yet, Ms. Love? You rely on open-source software written by me and my peers for “day-to-day functionality” every day you touch the Internet or anything that talks to it. But you don’t see it, because we’ve done our job so well that our part of the infrastructure is almost invisible to you. You are free to make snotty remarks about our inability to meet user needs only because we have created for you the luxury of ignorance. And you are able to dismiss our concerns as hysteria only because more layers of ignorance lie between you and the long struggle we have waged against similar power grabs in the past.

  175. @esr
    An even more forceful example: We are arguably indebted very deeply to the Apache project for keeping the Internet free.

    Without Apache, IIS/IE would have made the whole internet a walled garden. With pay booths everywhere.

  176. Great point from esr.
    I am quite speechless at the moment.
    Seems good to read that in an ocean of confusion about functionalities coming from Social Media or Web 2.0/3.0 evangelists.

  177. @Shannon Love

    Regarding “IR tags”: hardwrae solution won’t help here, because you can disable them using very simple “hardware” “hack”, namely put IR blocking filter over camera lenses. If you don’t trust people to run rooted phone, with software that turns off camera in presence of IR tag, you can’t trustusers to not put thin film of IR filter over lenses.

  178. I’m not as surprised at Shannon Love’s position as you seem to be. I have seen many attacks on open source from Chicago economists, and even some from Austrians, who should know better. I’m not sure what their problem is, it seems to be some sort of kinky love affair with big business, since it sometimes also leads to attacks on small businesses that compete with larger ones.

  179. I really get sick of being told that I’m “hysterical” when I express concerns about where some proposal may lead. It’s part and parcel of the dismissal of such concerns as a “slippery slope fallacy”.

    In order for a slippery slope argument to be fallacious, there has to be some bright line of distinction beyond the proposed action and yet before the Point of No Return. When someone proposes an infringement on my liberty, it’s on him to explain what the stopping point is on the slope, and how we’ll enforce that stopping point. The people advocating this particular power grab have to be on record as opposing the next one, so that we can cash that check when it’s proposed.

    Glenn’s suggestion that this could be used to bless a class of camera phones that would be allowed into restricted areas is the closest I’ve seen to doing that.

  180. Or you know, you could just put some duct-tape over the IR port on your phone/pad.

    Android btw, isn’t much better.. phone & tablet makers still disable root by default, updates can still disable functionalities quietly in the background. If you really want to own your own tech, you need linux, and good deal of savvy.

    Of course, the root cause of this is the authorities “we can do what we like” mentality. After all… if they haven’t got anything to hide, why do they need so much secrecy?

  181. @JonB:

    mX … a paper for the punter masses … just front paged the concept that Apple is going to mess with your phone.

    That makes good sense. The RIAA (and even, perhaps, some intellectuals) might denigrate the motives of those worried about being able to record video at concerts, but it wouldn’t surprise me if, at some point, we have a groundswell in opposition to this sort of restriction, and to the abuses of cops arresting people who record them with their smartphones, etc. The use of audio and/or video to help you remember and show others what you experienced (“assistive and shared memory devices”, perhaps?) might become a right enshrined in a constitution or two.

    @esr:

    I believe that Shannon Love is a Mr., not a Ms. In any case, he feels strongly enough about his position that he claims that the rest of us are “Lying about Apple”.

  182. @silicon.shaman:

    Android btw, isn’t much better. … If you really want to own your own tech, you need linux, and good deal of savvy.

    In an earlier comment on this post, Paul Brinkley already pointed out that the open-source underpinnings of Android make it possible for non-geeks to install a version they can trust. Yes, it’s a PITA, and no, they shouldn’t have to do it. Kind of like having to use the second amendment for its intended purpose, really.

  183. That is never going to happen with open source.

    Seriously? Are you paying attention at all? Google had to testify before Congress for the same issue. Different implementation and manifestation, but the same issue none-the-less.

    Jeebus.

  184. > The technological context we created constrains corporate power even more effectively than fear for their bottom line because we planned it that way at a time when nobody but engineers was paying attention to the communications architecture of the net.

    Is this actually true? I thought it was a largely unintentional side-effect of building distributed systems because a) they’re just damned cool and b) they’ve got useful properties like robustness.

    e.g. Bitcoin was originally created to prevent the problems of inflation caused by governments arbitrarily printing money. The fact that it happened to be a easy way to evade taxes and trade illegal drugs was largely an accident of design caused by eliminating the possibility of a central authority.

    Btw have you seen the article on p83 of the economist about Bitcoin.

  185. >Is this actually true? I thought it was a largely unintentional side-effect of building distributed systems because a) they’re just damned cool and b) they’ve got useful properties like robustness.

    Yes, it’s true. I was there. See “a roomful of hackers with an innate distrust of hierarchy and a strong allergy to system designs with single-point vulnerability”. Our distrust extended to systems vulnerable to political single-point failures as well as technical ones.

  186. Other Alex wrote: Wow, the formatting got completely mangled in my comment. The points that got erased were, basically, that you have to dig around in the guts of ANY OS when it breaks, but you don’t have to do so in commercial OSes when they’re *working*. And that I don’t think nearly as many open-source engineers worry about “what can go wrong” as we would like.

    You don’t have to dig around in Linux when it’s working – just install Ubuntu on your computer. It’s actually less work than Windows – there is no anti-virus software to update and you don’t need a firewall. Installs are insanely easy, and most printers/cameras/scanners just work.

  187. I am going to freely admit I didn’t read all the comments because there are so many and apologize if this has already been said. However I think that with the average person using open source (myself included) we don’t actually look or touch the source of our projects. The only advantage is all code and design decisions are public so if something like this happens your name is attached as a person who created it and wrote it. Plus people writing software for open source don’t care as much about patents or trying to be really creepy.

    How much open source software that you use have you looked at the source for? I know for me its less than 1%.

  188. Do you get it yet, Ms. Love? You rely on open-source software written by me and my peers for “day-to-day functionality” every day you touch the Internet or anything that talks to it. But you don’t see it, because we’ve done our job so well that our part of the infrastructure is almost invisible to you. You are free to make snotty remarks about our inability to meet user needs only because we have created for you the luxury of ignorance. And you are able to dismiss our concerns as hysteria only because more layers of ignorance lie between you and the long struggle we have waged against similar power grabs in the past.

    Hooray!

  189. > How much open source software that you use have you looked at the source for? I know for me its less than 1%.

    You’re missing the point. Human inquisitiveness is enough to ensure that if something is easily checkable, its probably been checked. This underpins trust in everything from scientific and mathematical truth, to the quality of open source software and the trustworthiness of merchants (I haven’t heard of this guy defrauding anyone else, so he’s unlikely to defraud me).

  190. Somewhat off-topic.

    I saw this article in the WSJ the other day about Apple’s retail stores.

    Coincidentally, I took my daughter to the Apple store today because her iPhone is acting up. Oh, the humanity! There must have been over 100 customers, and I counted a solid 26 employees. They were moving around and there were always some in the back, so there were probably really over 30, perhaps 35.

    But the funniest thing is that, after checking her phone out, the pronouncement was that the software was “corrupted” and she needed to back up her contacts, pictures, etc. and put the phone in DFU (device firmware update) mode and do a fresh install and set it up like a brand new phone.

    It was all very Microsoftish, except for the part about how after she did all that she needed to give the phone a slightly different name, I suppose so the backup software doesn’t try to restore a previously corrupted image.

  191. > I believe that Shannon Love is a Mr., not a Ms. In any case, he feels strongly enough about his position that he claims that the rest of us are “Lying about Apple”.

    Wow. From his posts here he seemed misguided but basically reasonable, over there he’s in full **AA shill mode. “The only thing Linux lets you do that Apple doesn’t is steal from people like me.”

  192. > “The only thing Linux lets you do that Apple doesn’t is steal from people like me.”

    yeah, that’s really rich, especially after “I really wish there was a way to hold people responsible for this level of malice and/or incompetence. But hey, journalists are too important to be held responsible.”

    Mr. Love should be very careful what he wishes for. When he translates a very reasonable “The reason I will not use an Apple product is simple. I want control. It’s my device, it should do exactly what I want.” into “I want to steal the results of other people’s work and Apple’s DMR won’t let me,” well, he’s being both malicious and incompetent.

    Mr. Shannon: I know you’re too stupid to believe this, but I use Linux because it’s my device and it should do exactly what I want! I’ve never stolen any software from anywhere, and if you code as well as you think, I sincerely doubt that you are competent enough to code anything worthwhile, in any case!

  193. Shannon writes:
    >Well, if you read Chicagoboyz and similar sources you would know that asymmetrical information is impossible to prevent and attempts to do so always backfire.

    Actually, no, and this one paragraph should change your mind. Asymmetric information is most often a problem when it is asymmetric between classes of people. For example, I know things about stuff that you don’t, and you know things about stuff I don’t. But when Chicago school economists know something that Keynesian economists do not (excuse me for a moment while I go shoot MORE fish in a barrel), that’s more of a problem. None of the first class are willing to share their secrets with people of the second class (or more accurately, the second class are clueless gits who wouldn’t RECOGNIZE the information if it was tattooed on their arm. But I digress.) How do you get the information to cross class boundaries? You don’t. You can’t (just as you said). BUT you can get meta-information across the boundary which turns out to ameliorate the problem.

    Well, give me two paragraphs. None of knows how to make a pencil. There are too many components which need specialized knowledge. But by specializing, by trading, and by using prices, we can carry information about the components. For example: brass or aluminum for the eraser holder? Well, they both work well enough, so run with whichever is cheaper. Of course, BOTH the brass and aluminum sheet metal creators would LOVE to hide their cost structure from customers (information asymmetry) so that customers would have to pay a hig price.

    Three, but I’m getting there. But, see, here’s the thing: by capturing a tiny bit more of the market, the brass manufacturer can make a lot more money. So they lower their prices a little. The same logic applies to the aluminum maker. Both of them end up lowering their prices until they can’t lower them anymore. In this manner, the asymmetric information gets exposed in the form of competitive prices.

  194. Apple files for many patents, often for things they have no interest or intention of ever implementing. Apples’ patents are as often defensive as offensive.

    You get to write this article when Apple starts implementing this technology. Until then you’re being paranoid and unfair to Apple. Meanwhile the truly evil organizations such as government, and google, get nothing but praise from you so called “freetards”.

    Apple is the only company I’m aware of who has never actually done anything evil. You should take that into consideration.

  195. > Apples’ patents are as often defensive as offensive.

    But a “defensive” patent is only good if you envision the technology being so good that someone else (who you are in competition with)is going to use it. Still shows their thinking, and some of us don’t like it.

    > You get to write this article when Apple starts implementing this technology.

    That’s silly, and it shows that you commented without reading any of the comments which directly address this “point”. It could be far too late by then.

    > Apple is the only company I’m aware of who has never actually done anything evil. You should take that into consideration.

    Abolitionist’s awareness is extremely limited. Noted.

  196. Mister Eric S. Raymond,

    I am appalled by your June 18th, 2011 at 3:43 am comment. I am experiencing one of those “never meet your heroes in person” sought of disillusionments. Your little rant is a perfect example of why open source fails to spread beyond geeks despite its many advantages.

    Yesterday, I wrote up a lightheartedly sarcastic reply but it went overly wrong so I intend to post it over at Chicagoboyz as an extended fisk. I’ll post a link when I am done.

    However, let me boil everything down to the essentials.

    I can tell I hulled you in factual arguments because you got so flustered emotionally that you reverted to sexists dismissivness. Your use of “Ms. Love” was not an act of respect but rather used in the sense, “Now see here little missy don’t go sticking your pretty little nose into men’s business you know nothing about.”

    You may have superior knowledge to me in some areas of specialization but that is not because I am female. Definitely not because I am female.

    As for factual arguments, I asserted that: (1) the camera disabling function was just a speculative use of an another wise innocuous IR augmented reality tag system. (2) The speculative functionality could be implemented right now any number of ways using technology currently available on every mobile platform including Andriod (3) The speculative functionality had to bem implemented in hardware (the Apple patent application is for hardware) and that therefore open source was highly unlikely to be able provide a counter-measure. (4) Most importantly, no economic rational existed as to why Apple or anyone else would deploy such a functionality against the wishes of their customers so on that bases alone, the speculative technology presents no threat.

    You know what your answer boiled down to? This:

    Why is the Apple speculative technology dangerous? Because I, Lord High Creator and Savior of the Internet Eric. S. Raymond say it is! Don’t be making any economic arguments to we, The Aristocrats of the Glorious, Perfected and Favored by Heaven Open Source, do not debase ourselves to grubby matters of money. How dare you question me you lowly ignorant peasant!

    This overweening arrogance and disdain is the primary reason Open Source is not succeeding like it could. You’ve set yourself as technological aristocracy that claims to know what software the rest of us need and you think that is the only software we should have. When non-techs try to tell the Open Source programmers about the boring to write, utterly unsexy software tools the non-techs actually need to preform their non-computer related task e.g. accounting, you sneer at them as fools and idiots.

    I think it is very clear you are waving the red shirt of Apple’s speculative technology for the sole reason that you have personal philosophical, professional and economic interest in advancing Google Android platform. Apple’s iOS is Android’s primary economic competitor so you decided to take a page from Microsoft and use this internet urban myth to spread a little old fashion Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt about Apple.

    I really expected better of you of all people. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at your arrogance and elitism. I’ve long learned that the louder anyone screams about the evils of corporations and “power to the people” the stronger their own elitist and authoritarian impulses are. Therefore, I should have known what you really were under the skin. I guess I let my respect for your technical achievements blind me to your emotional and intellectual faults.

    I won’t be making that mistake again.

    BTW, If you want to know how to make Open Source actually work large scale by providing it with a realistic and sustainable economic model, drop me a line and we’ll discuss it. Of course, that would require you to soil your hands with mere money so I won’t hold my breath.

    ESR says: I have edited the markup in the above to add a link to the comment Shannon Love claims to have been so so offended by. I encourage anyone who thinks there might be substance to these accusations to actually read that comment.

  197. > for the sole reason that you have personal philosophical,

    Blah, blah, blah.

    This is comical, coming from someone who thinks the only purpose of Linux is to be able to steal his stuff. What a wanker.

  198. Morgan Greywolf,

    Right, when you can’t argue technology and economics degrade people’s motives. Neat trick. It’s said that Lenin invented in the modern form.

    I take it then that you argue that Eric S. Raymond and all other open source proponents have no vested economic interest in the success of open source? You might claim you do all this for free out the shear nobleness of your intentions but I can’t help but noticing that open source authors often do very well for themselves.

    I admit my own self-intrest instead of dressing my self-instest up in language of personal sacrifice like a pre-industrial aristocrat. Just because I am self-interested doesn’t mean that I am wrong.

    Make a substantive arguments based on technical, economic or political facts or go away and let the grown ups talk.

  199. Patrick Murphy,

    This is comical, coming from someone who thinks the only purpose of Linux is to be able to steal his stuff. What a wanker.

    Well, that was an inept strawman argument.

    What I think is that the Open Source community is utterly indifferent to anyone’s digital intellectual property and sees it as their mission to make sure that no who generates digital content can actually sell it. I think the Open Source community is elitist and has abrogated to themselves the sole right to decide what everyone else’s digital property rights are.

    Here’s a common argument: Open Source advocates will say that musicians don’t need digital intellectual property rights because they can just make their money from live performances. It’s a seductive message because (1) there are thousands of times more consumers of digital content than there are producers so a lot more people will buy into a rationale that lets them get things for free and (2) its easy to convince people that every single musician in the world is a millionaire rock star and that every single dime spent on musics goes to big evil corporations.

    Well, I live in Austin, TX where every third person is in a band. A while back there was a community benefit for a 30 something performer who was moderately successful but who had been in an accident, suffered neurological damage and as a result, would never perform again.

    Now, wouldn’t it be a benefit to this person if he could continue to sell his previous body of work online and generate some income. According to the Open Source community in general the answer is no because the right of people to listen to music without paying anyone for it trumps all other rights and considerations.

    ITunes and the App store has been a huge boon to small content producers and small software developers. I know several individuals making respectable money when previously they had to struggle and their only hope of making a middle-class income was to sell out to a big corporations. All the time the Open Source community was tearing into the entire concept.

    So, no I don’t think the primary purpose of Linux is steal but I do think the Open Source communities arrogant, “we know what is best for everyone” combined with their utter and complete naiveté about anything not immediately related to programming makes them dangerous to the welfare for others.

    All elites, even technical elites, are dangerous unless they are bound by economic self-interest. The open source community of makes of point of saying that ordinary people can’t influence them with market price signals. You’ve been indoctrinated to believe that is noble and self-sacrificing but what you’re really saying is that the rest of us have no input on the decisions you make for us.

  200. >What I think is that the Open Source community is utterly indifferent to anyone’s digital intellectual property and sees it as their mission to make sure that no who generates digital content can actually sell it.

    It was already apparent that what you think has no connection to reality. This is yet another demonstration of that disconnection.

  201. In my previous post of June 19th, 2011 at 10:27 am the sentence:

    Yesterday, I wrote up a lightheartedly sarcastic reply but it went overly wrong so I intend to post it over at Chicagoboyz as an extended fisk. I’ll post a link when I am done.

    Should have read, ” but it went overly long…” Feel free to laugh and don’t write a comment while arguing with the spouse.

  202. @Shannon Love:

    Well, that was an inept strawman argument.

    What strawman argument? You actually wrote that. Ohhhh, you mean your strawman argument. Yes, that was inept.

    What I think is that the Open Source community is utterly indifferent to anyone’s digital intellectual property and sees it as their mission to make sure that no who generates digital content can actually sell it.

    What complete, utter BS. I’m sure there are a few who think like this, but I think most of those would be exceptionally mad at you for applying the open source label to them rather than the free software label.

    I think the Open Source community is elitist and has abrogated to themselves the sole right to decide what everyone else’s digital property rights are.

    I don’t know of anybody in the “community” (certainly not who hangs out around here) who thinks this.

    Here’s a common argument: Open Source advocates will say that musicians don’t need digital intellectual property rights because they can just make their money from live performances.

    Yet more strawmen arguments. Who the fuck around here said that? I use linux, you’re tarring me with a wide brush of saying I want to steal stuff and don’t believe in copyright. Bollocks.

    It’s a seductive message because (1) there are thousands of times more consumers of digital content than there are producers so a lot more people will buy into a rationale that lets them get things for free and (2) its easy to convince people that every single musician in the world is a millionaire rock star and that every single dime spent on musics goes to big evil corporations.

    I will grant you there are people who rationalize copyright infringement, but it’s a huge mistake to conflate those people with the open source community.

    Well, I live in Austin, TX where every third person is in a band.

    Yes, I live in Austin, too, and my daughter is in a band.

    A while back there was a community benefit for a 30 something performer who was moderately successful but who had been in an accident, suffered neurological damage and as a result, would never perform again.

    I remember that. There were also benefits for uninsured people who lost their homes in the brush fire in Oak Hill. Shit happens. Sometimes people help out. I often help out.

    Now, wouldn’t it be a benefit to this person if he could continue to sell his previous body of work online and generate some income. According to the Open Source community in general the answer is no because the right of people to listen to music without paying anyone for it trumps all other rights and considerations.

    Complete BS. Find me one halfway productive open source contributor who doesn’t believe in copyright.

    ITunes and the App store has been a huge boon to small content producers and small software developers. I know several individuals making respectable money when previously they had to struggle and their only hope of making a middle-class income was to sell out to a big corporations. All the time the Open Source community was tearing into the entire concept.

    For well-understood reasons, Apple was there first with an officially sanctioned distribution mechanism. But lots of smaller bands do as well or better with other distribution channels. Touting Apple as the savior of all things musical is extremely disingenuous.

    So, no I don’t think the primary purpose of Linux is steal

    You said so. And now you’re claiming you don’t believe this, but you do believe that everybody who uses Linux (the community) is all about stealing — a distinction without a difference.

    but I do think the Open Source communities arrogant, “we know what is best for everyone” combined with their utter and complete naiveté about anything not immediately related to programming makes them dangerous to the welfare for others.

    You have a severe case of projection here, I think.

    All elites, even technical elites, are dangerous unless they are bound by economic self-interest.

    Depends on what you mean by dangerous. If I code something in a few weeks and give it away, and it kills a commercial project, did they really deserve to be making that money? What kind of government would it take to insure that, in my spare time, I never do anything that might endanger someone’s livelihood? Are you really advocating for that? Really, what a wanker.

    The open source community of makes of point of saying that ordinary people can’t influence them with market price signals.

    That may be true for some individuals, but if an open-source project almost does what you need, I’m sure you’ll be able to pay someone to make it go the rest of the way. The market really does work. And there are other markets besides the direct economic ones. esr has written extensively about these. But even viewed from a purely economic perspective, being a contributor to a successful open source project is extremely good for a resume.

    You’ve been indoctrinated to believe that is noble and self-sacrificing but what you’re really saying is that the rest of us have no input on the decisions you make for us.

    No, I’m saying that you don’t have any input on the decisions I make for myself. If those decisions happen to negatively impact your livelihood, it’s probably because you’re just not a very good programmer.

  203. I take it then that you argue that Eric S. Raymond and all other open source proponents have no vested economic interest in the success of open source? You might claim you do all this for free out the shear nobleness of your intentions but I can’t help but noticing that open source authors often do very well for themselves.

    Any idea how much money I’ve made from my own open source software? Take a guess. Try $0. I can’t even say my open source software has helped me to get a job except to say maybe that developing it has improved my knowledge of Unix and Linux. Good Unix engineers are sufficiently hard to come by that I make a pretty good living doing it, but that’s about it. I’m probably not unusual amongst open source software developers.

    Also, didn’t you claim in that comments to that article to have contributed to MacRuby?

    That still doesn’t absolve you from being so clueless about open source software. Yes, Apple does initiate many open source projects. But some of the ones they commonly get credit for, like WebKit, still contain lots of code that Apple did not write (from KHTML, in this instance). Furthemore, as has been pointed out to you, you can’t touch a machine containing a CPU that doesn’t rely on open source software. iOS contains a Mach microkernel, s FreeBSD and GNU userland (no, not BSD 4.x), etc. It displays PNGs using some code esr himself has written. The page you are reading was served by an Apache Web browser, and the HTML for this page was generated by WordPress. You rely on open source software every single time you touch anything with a CPU in it more complicated than the ECU in your car. At the very least, if it connects to the Internet, it probably has an open source TCP/IP stack in it. Do you have a VOIP phone? Open source drives it. Connect via a wireless broadband router? Open source drives it. Keep files on a network-attached storage device? Open source drives it. Have a digital camera? Open source, again. Send any e-mail lately? I’ll bet sendmail or postfix touched it on one end or the other, even if you sent it via an Exchange mail server. It’s everywhere. You can’t escape it unless you move to a deserted island in the South Pacific. Maybe not even then.

  204. esr,

    It was already apparent that what you think has no connection to reality. This is yet another demonstration of that disconnection.

    Right and that’s “apparent” because….?

    … Oh right, because Eric S. Raymond Lord Creator and Savior of the Internet says so? Sorry, Mister Raymond but I was educated to be a scientist and much more authoritative people than you have tried the “argument from authority” bit on me and failed.

    Is there an open source intellectual property model that I missed? Pointing in that direction would make a stronger argument than, “because I said so.”

    In the matter of IR augmented reality tags, I’ve made several technical and economic arguments and your most coherent reply has been, “proprietary bad, *grunt*, open source good.” That’s fine when you are preaching to choir but for someone who isn’t already a part of your little cult you need to flesh things out a bit.

    This type of arrogant, egotistical, elitist mindset is what has prevented Open Source from reaching its full potential. You alienate potential users at every turn. You constantly insult business people as both evil and stupid and then wonder why those evil stupid people won’t use your software even though you give away for free. You openly brag that neither ordinary users or business users will ever have any significant input on any technological, legal or moral decision you make and then wonder why everyone is hesitant to put themselves in your hands.

    You need to see how your arguments look to people that haven’t already bought into your axioms. I am going to be driving some traffic to this thread and most of the people coming here won’t be software engineers. They will be non-computer professionals e.g. Doctors, accountants, lawyers etc as well as managers and owners of small-to-medium sized non-computer related businesses. How convincing do you think the arguments you made in thread will be? How well do you think you egotistical emotionalism will play? Are your rants going to make any converts?

    Conversely, how do you think my argument that, not only is it impossible for Apple to make money disabling an iPhones cameras but that doing so would almost certainly destroy the company, will play to a bunch of business people. They will levelheaded say, “well, I don’t understand the technology but I do understand what incentives corporations face so I can be confident Apple will never use this technology against the wishes of end users. Plus, that Raymond fellow needs to take some business courses after he calms down.”

    The most successful end user open source projects are those backed by major corporation e.g. Google Android. That is because non-techs people trust major corporations more than they trust a bunch egomaniacal, elitist who make a point of saying they don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks. People intuitively know that corporations face economic, reputation-al and legal constraints, constraints open source does not have. That in turn means open source advocates have to work extra hard to convince people that a software production model which utterly ignores their input and has no enforceable obligation is actually a good thing for the general public. Usually, they are to busy with at their mutual appreciation society meetings to make the effort.

    No one will argue against the technical brilliance of yourself or most open source contributors. But as a student of technological and scientific history I can tell you that technical correctness is only a part, and often a minor part, of a technology’s ultimate success. You need to accept that while you are a world class expert in one relatively limited area, in other areas you are either completely ordinary or even usually naive.

    Humility and a willingness to listen to concerns and needs of those who aren’t software gods is what Open Source really needs to thrive.

  205. “What I think is that the Open Source community is utterly indifferent to anyone’s digital intellectual property and sees it as their mission to make sure that no who generates digital content can actually sell it.”

    That is according to the rule of propaganda: A lie repeated often becomes true.

    Show me a single example of ESR, RMS, Linus, Theo, Larry, or Guido having knowingly copied a line of code illegaly.

    It is much easier to find copyright infringement in proprietary code. Even the **AA have been caught infringing copyrights wholesale.

  206. @Shannon Love:

    The most successful end user open source projects are those backed by major corporation e.g. Google Android.

    How do you measure success? What is an “end user” open source project? You can make the statistics say anything you want if you change the rules of the game. Mozilla Firefox isn’t currently backed by a major corporation, though many major corporations have contributed money and source to it.

    What is an open source project? Is OS X an open source project? It contains whole lot of open source code, much of it not originated by Apple.

    Why is the server portion of the WWW software stack not an “end user” project? Who are the “end users” — the site owners or their visitors? Why are Web site owners not considered to be “end users”? That’s certainly what Tim Berners-Lee intended — his plan was for a “read/write web”.

    Go right ahead, Ms. Love. Keep ignoring me. Ignorance is, after all, bliss.

  207. “# Jeff Read Says:
    June 16th, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Feh. This is nothing. Ever since the dumbphone days law enforcement has been able to switch on your cellphone’s mic and use it to spy on you without your permission or interaction, even when the cellphone is nominally turned “off”. This is a real thing; arrests and convictions have been obtained by this method. And yes, it is admissible in court.”

    Seriously? This is for real? Talk about a reason for paranoia!

    Re spoofing the ir detection, William Gibson’s latest “Zero History” features an ugly shirt coded so that any video camera seeing it deletes its image.

  208. This type of arrogant, egotistical, elitist mindset is what has prevented Open Source from reaching its full potential.

    According to you, “its full potential” would merely be enabling others to steal your stuff faster. You probably don’t want that, so it’s hard to imagine that you’re planning on giving us great advice.

    You alienate potential users at every turn.

    You’re right that some of us aren’t salesmen, but somehow, someone who thinks Linux is about stealing his stuff, who came here to rag on us, doesn’t seem ripe for conversion to me. Waste of bloody time.

    You constantly insult business people as both evil and stupid and then wonder why those evil stupid people won’t use your software even though you give away for free.

    Lots of us actually work for business. And actually use open source software in business. And contribute back. And are happy. Just because you’re trying to be evil and stupid and you fancy yourself a businessperson doesn’t mean that we actually care whether you use any open source or not.

    You openly brag that neither ordinary users or business users will ever have any significant input on any technological, legal or moral decision you make and then wonder why everyone is hesitant to put themselves in your hands.

    Amazing. First you rag on people for wanting to steal your stuff. Then you rag on other creators for not kow-towing to potential users who somehow think those creators owe them something. Well, guess what? If we do stuff because we want to, then we do what we want. If we do stuff because we’re getting paid, then we do what the customer wants. (And some of us are quite busy this way.)

    You need to see how your arguments look to people that haven’t already bought into your axioms.

    I already know how the arguments look to you — when someone says “I want control,” you say You want to steal. I get that.. But, guess what? You’re not everybody. You’re not even remotely representative, because a lot of people I have met really do get the argument that open source can be immensely empowering.

    I am going to be driving some traffic to this thread and most of the people coming here won’t be software engineers.

    Awesome.

    They will be non-computer professionals e.g. Doctors, accountants, lawyers etc as well as managers and owners of small-to-medium sized non-computer related businesses.

    My brother is a lawyer. So is esr’s wife. I believe twilightomni is a doctor. I’m sure there’s some accountants around. So if your acquaintances are open minded they will probably fit right in.

    How convincing do you think the arguments you made in thread will be? How well do you think you egotistical emotionalism will play? Are your rants going to make any converts?

    Depends on whether people have their minds made up.

    Conversely, how do you think my argument that, not only is it impossible for Apple to make money disabling an iPhones cameras but that doing so would almost certainly destroy the company, will play to a bunch of business people.

    I think they will realize that the truth is more likely the possibility that Glen Raphael pointed out, that the idea would be to make a phone that you could take into a top-secret place and be the only company that can make such a phone. But that really is a slippery slope. Once they make such a phone, the places where you can only take an Apple phone (and can’t take photographs or video) would probably expand rapidly.

    They will levelheaded say, “well, I don’t understand the technology but I do understand what incentives corporations face so I can be confident Apple will never use this technology against the wishes of end users. Plus, that Raymond fellow needs to take some business courses after he calms down.”

    I’m sure I don’t know all your acquaintances, but unlike you, I sincerely doubt that they are all too stupid to realize that some of the incentives that corporations face are created of the government, by the government, and for the government.

    The most successful end user open source projects are those backed by major corporation e.g. Google Android.

    Sure, for a circular definition of successful (which, btw, depends on google picking, e.g. linux, and making it even more successful).

    That is because non-techs people trust major corporations more than they trust a bunch egomaniacal, elitist who make a point of saying they don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks.

    No, it’s because they had never even heard of open source before.

    People intuitively know that corporations face economic, reputation-al and legal constraints, constraints open source does not have.

    People might have used to think that, but Microsoft has done a pretty good job of disabusing them of that notion. I switched to Linux because I got tired of coming home from work and seeing a purple gorilla swinging across the screen because my girls had gone to some websites that they shouldn’t have. Funny how Microsoft’s economic constraints of hoovering up buckets of cash for every PC ever sold and its legal and reputational constraints somehow made sure that no viruses or malware ever pops up on a Windows platform.

    That in turn means open source advocates have to work extra hard to convince people that a software production model which utterly ignores their input and has no enforceable obligation is actually a good thing for the general public.

    Who, other than a patent holder, has ever managed to enforce an obligation against Microsoft. You know, the basic one of fitness for purpose?

    Anyway, you’re starting to sound like some marketing people I know. If you think you can usefully take everybody’s input, you’ve got a lot more time on your hands than I do.

  209. You know this reminds of a concept drawn from “Ghost in the Shell: SAC”. Where whenever the special police forces want to keep an engagement secret, they can roll-out a “media blackout”. This is basically the real world catching up with Japanese SF…

  210. >Is there an open source intellectual property model that I missed?

    Yes, there is. You need to read Homesteading the Noosphere; then you need to read The Magic Cauldron, which is still after a decade the foundational work on open-source economics and business models.

    I’m ignoring your flamage. If you were merely terribly ignorant, that would be relatively easy to repair. But you are also deeply convinced of a great many things that are not true, and you hold those convictions with an intensity amounting to actual bigotry. I won’t allow that to be my problem.

  211. @Shannon Love:

    > intellectual property

    There is no such thing; this is a marketing term.

    If you want to have a common name for such very different things as copyright, trademarks and patents, us intellectual rights

  212. Just to be clear I’m not actually offended by being called “Ms.” I intentionally obscure my sex and sexual-orientation online precisely to lay a trap for people who will lose it emotionally and try to subtlety dismiss me because they believe I am a woman. I have ridiculous amounts of fun.

    No, the significance of Raymond using the “Ms.” was that instead of answering my technical challenges he instead tried to pull rank and make an argument from authority. Once he was in that mind set he accidentally slipped into male-dominating-female which so many people are still prone to (there a female counter-part to the mode that appears in discussions about traditionally female domains.) I’ve seen this many, many times in many context in many online debates.

    Far from being offended, upon reading the “Ms.” I did a little happy dance because I viewed it as an overt admission of defeat. People always whip out the dominance when I have scored a substantial factual point which I did here.

    I am offended that I was supposed to defer to Raymond because of all the great things he and the rest of the open source community had done for me and the rest of the internet public. It doesn’t work like that. Raymond could be great hero he imagines himself, I could agree with him whole heartedly (which I do to an extent) and he could still be wrong about the Apple IR augmented reality tags. Each issue stands in isolation. Raymond needs to make an argument comprising both the technical and economic facts instead of pulling the geek version of, “don’t you know who I am!”

    I am disturbed at the level of arrogance and the sense of entitlement display by Raymond et al in this thread. Raymond et al has at all times done what he thought right on his own moral authority. He neither asked for, no was granted any right to speak or act in the name of computer users everywhere. As such, even though he believes he has done great good he is not entitled to any deferences or even unusual respect. Deference is owed to those consciously appointed to carry out specific task for a group of individuals. Only such people can claim to speak and act for the collective.

    I am disturbed because historically the most murderous and dangerous people have been those who appointed themselves the hero of the people. The idea that the group of individuals who could very well one day end up controlling the world’s mission critical software have such a sense of entitlement and believe they have the moral right to be a law unto themselves answerable to no one is very, very scary.

    Let me reiterate my original main points technical points which have so far gone completely unanswered on the technical level:

    (1) The Apple IR tab technology does not inherently create a mechanism for disabling a device’s camera. It is actually a hypothetical use of the type which is legally required by patents. Apple would have to add extra code/hardware beyond the patent to make it work.

    (2) There exist right now, in every mobile devices, the technology exist to implement camera disabling technology based on the location of the camera or any of a multitude of external signals. For example, as an iPhone developer I know I can use the location manager combined with the accelerometer data to tell exactly where the camera is pointing at within roughly 60 degrees of arc. Since Android has a similar functionality of location and orientation I assume it could be done on Android as well. Why then is the speculative function in the Apple patent so noteworthy.

    (3) The Apple patent is a hardware patent and the functionality would have to implemented in hardware to be effective. How then could open source software provide the user protection against.

    (4) Most importantly of all, is not corporate economic self-interest a more powerful protector of user’s rights than any technical solution? How could Apple conceivably hope to benefit economically from deploying such a technology against the wishes of its users? Doesn’t the very real fact that it would obviously be economic suicide for Apple to even attempt such thing make this a threat of an utterly microscopic scale unworthy of any attention?

    All my other comments are largely subjective and I don’t mind anyone dismissing them but I would like someone to actually take a stab at answering these technical questions.

    In addition I would ask: Given that everyone has limited time and resources we can devote to monitoring threats to computer user’s rights and capabilities, don’t we have the responsibility to prioritize such threats and not waste time on microscopic ones? Don’t knowledgeable computer specialist have a special responsibility not cry wolf?

  213. >he instead tried to pull rank and make an argument from authority. Once he was in that mind set he accidentally slipped into male-dominating-female which so many people are still prone to

    You have a very rich fantasy life, I see. I’m sure it makes you feel righteous and good. No connection with reality, though.

  214. So by calling you “Ms.” Eric became the one of the most murderous and dangerous people? I guess I got confused.

    However, to your supposedly ignored points:
    “The Apple patent is a hardware patent and the functionality would have to implemented in hardware to be effective.”

    This is a nonsense sentence actually under patent law.

    “How could Apple conceivably hope to benefit economically from deploying such a technology against the wishes of its users? ”

    By lobbying for legislation to mandate it.

    Do you have any more challenging points?

  215. >The most successful end user open source projects are those backed by
    >major corporation e.g. Google Android.

    >>Sure, for a circular definition of successful (which, btw, depends on
    >>google picking, e.g. linux, and making it even more successful).

    Linux is actually the most successful OS out there, I thought. On everything except the desktop. Most servers and 410 of Top 500 supercomputers, for example, use linux.

  216. @Shannon Live:

    No, the significance of Raymond using the “Ms.” was that instead of answering my technical challenges he instead tried to pull rank and make an argument from authority.

    I went back and re-read the post he made, and, while he obviously thought you were a female, he didn’t “pull rank” and he did address any semi-coherent points you may have made. More to the point, I don’t think he treated you any worse than I have seen him treat people who he knows are guys.

    Far from being offended, upon reading the “Ms.” I did a little happy dance because I viewed it as an overt admission of defeat. People always whip out the dominance when I have scored a substantial factual point which I did here.

    As Eric says, you have a rich fantasy life. You haven’t “scored” any substantial factual point, and the rest of the questions in your post have already been asked and answered in comments on this post. You can be offended and disturbed all you want, but that doesn’t change reality.

    Raymond et al has at all times done what he thought right on his own moral authority.

    You are obviously extremely offended and disturbed by this, but you haven’t ever said exactly what it is that Eric has done that is so bad. esr’s thrust in this post is that people who can even think that it might sometimes be a good idea to not let people control their own computers are setting the world up for a lot of evil mischief. This sentiment is correct. As opposed to, for example, your dismissive statement that anybody who wants control over their computer just wants to steal your stuff, and your further defense of the “collective” against esr.

    You’re the one with a warped sense of entitlement, and an even more warped sense of reality. For example, when you write “The idea that the group of individuals who could very well one day end up controlling the world’s mission critical software have such a sense of entitlement and believe they have the moral right to be a law unto themselves answerable to no one is very, very scary,” you are absolutely right. Of course, what you don’t seem to realize is that you are describing Microsoft and Apple to a tee. Cell phones are already mission critical software in many applications and the idea that Apple can even apply for this patent means that they view themselves as elites who are going to tell the rest of us what to do. The bottom line is that even when you seem to have a glimmering of understanding of what the problem might be, you completely miss the target and the potential solution.

    Given that everyone has limited time and resources we can devote to monitoring threats to computer user’s rights and capabilities, don’t we have the responsibility to prioritize such threats and not waste time on microscopic ones?

    You are welcome to prioritize your time as you see fit. It’s a free country. Why are you wasting your time responding here if you think Apple’s patent is so immaterial? Oh, right, all that stock that might be negatively impacted if Apple gets a bad reputation.

  217. >Linux is actually the most successful OS out there, I thought. On everything except the desktop. Most servers and 410 of Top 500 supercomputers, for example, use linux.

    Given the number of Android smartphones in service worldwide, it may already be the case that Linux has the highest installation numbers of any operating system ever shipped. And if that isn’t true yet, it will probably become so within the next year.

  218. > Linux is actually the most successful OS out there, I thought.

    Ah, yes, you see, but by Mr. Love’s logic, that’s only because google and other big companies backed it. Unless you’ve been anointed by a huge commercial entity, you’re a nobody.

  219. >More to the point, I don’t think he treated you any worse than I have seen him treat people who he knows are guys.

    And if I had treated him better under the belief he was female, that really would have been quite sexist and retrograde of me. But no; foolishness is foolishness and whether one’s genitals are convex or concave doesn’t change that.

  220. >Raymond et al has at all times done what he thought right on his own moral authority

    You know, I actually missed this, because I had written Shannon Love off as a loon and was merely skimming the flamage. Now that I see it, I boggle.

    Well, of course I have at all times done what I thought was right on my own moral authority. It’s called “being an adult with internalized ethics”. You do what you believe to be right and you take responsibility for the consequences if you’re wrong. It takes a bizarre, twisted view of the world to think you are insulting someone by “accusing” them of this.

    Now, granted, there is a possibility that my ethics are consequentially wrong and my actions are harmful as a result. You could tell that was true if, for example, I had a record or harming or coercing people in the service of those ethics – or even, perhaps if people I inspired had harmed or coerced others. But I don’t have such a record, and nor do my *wince* followers. If I did, the sane way to criticize me would be to point out how my ethical position leads down that path.

    But attacking me for living in accordance with my values as though that were a bad thing regardless of their content…that is just nuts.

  221. > But attacking me for living in accordance with my values as though that were a bad thing regardless of their content…that is just nuts.

    I wrote and erased similar sentiments multiple times. Couldn’t get it to come out right. I’m extremely confused by his posting — in some places it seemed like moral authority must flow from God; in others it seemed like you have to be elected or something…

  222. >in some places it seemed like moral authority must flow from God; in others it seemed like you have to be elected or something…

    Oh, well, I’ve encountered that kind of confusion before. I’m not a Randite, but Ayn Rand (implicitly) taught me the answer to that one.

    Many years ago, after I had co-founded a free community ISP called Chester County Interlink, I found myself in a dispute with the Board of Directors of the organization. The chairman of that board at that time was an amiable if rather stupid man whose election I had not opposed because I thought he would do a reasonable job of handling the organization’s people issues while I kept the hardware and software running. I no longer remember the topic of the dispute, but I do remember what he required of me.

    “Will you execute the Board’s orders without interposing your own judgment?” he asked.

    I told him that was impossible.

    About fifteen minutes of anger and confusion ensued before the Board figured out that I wasn’t telling him I was refusing to comply. I really meant it was impossible, that the demand was just as nonsensical as asking for a perfectly circular square. Because every choice to obey an order – or to accept someone else’s moral authority – is itself a value-driven judgment. You can tell yourself that you’re not making a value-driven choice when you obey an order, but telling yourself that is lying to yourself and removes none of the responsibility for your actions.

    Each and every one of us is, ultimately, his or her own “moral authority”. It cannot be otherwise.

    On second thought, maybe it wasn’t Rand. This may have been one of Robert Heinlein’s lessons.

  223. > precisely to lay a trap for people who will lose it emotionally and try to subtlety dismiss me because they believe I am a woman.

    Mark Ethan Smith lives.

  224. > “# Jeff Read Says:
    > June 16th, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    > Feh. This is nothing. Ever since the dumbphone days law enforcement has been able to switch on your cellphone’s mic and use it to spy on you without your permission or interaction, even when the cellphone is nominally turned “off”. This is a real thing; arrests and convictions have been obtained by this method. And yes, it is admissible in court.”

    > Seriously? This is for real? Talk about a reason for paranoia!

    > Re spoofing the ir detection, William Gibson’s latest “Zero History” features an ugly shirt coded so that any video camera seeing it deletes its image.

    I think Jeff is wrong about this, at least for one mobile provider. I know someone who would know if it true, and he is certain it’s not. It might be true for other providers, but I have no reason to believe it. If I were the NSA (for example) I might write a virus designed to allow me to listen in from specific phones and try to make sure it is loaded on various important people’s phones, but since mobile providers want to be paid for the minutes, they monitor when the radios are turned on, if only to look for fraud. Their motivation is for the NSA to be able to listen in only if they pay for it. And will the NSA manage to get security clearances for all the techs who would be in a position to notice such a problem? It smells urban mythical to me. Too many people would be able to spoil the secret.

    Yours,
    Tom

  225. “People intuitively know that corporations face economic, reputation-al and legal constraints, constraints open source does not have.”

    I know quite a number of corporations who took a calculated bet on all three factors that created massive damage and/or killed numerous people. And then used their money and power to dodge the consequences.

    So, forgive me, to be rather skeptical on the “protection by corporation” front.

    And I must confess that I have no idea why you think Open Source do not feel these constraints even more stringently. Open Source projects cannot muster the same number of lawyers and lobbyist and face instant obliteration if they cross any of the legal, reputational, or economic lines (albeit that Open Source is so much more efficient that they do not need much money).

  226. >Each and every one of us is, ultimately, his or her own “moral authority”. It cannot be otherwise.

    OK, I’m now going to bend over backward to be fair. I went back and read Love’s last comment more carefully, and it turns out there is a possible interpretation of his attack that isn’t utterly bugfuck crazy. I’ll address it, because it’s an issue I’ve had to struggle with internally in the past.

    The non-crazy version of the question is “What gives me the authority to try to speak for the needs and desires of all computer users?” Or, to look at a narrower question that comes up more frequently but raises the same fundamental questions, “Who appointed you the ambassador from the hackers?”

    The honest answer is that neither group ever officially delegated me those roles, for the very good reason that there’s no way for either group to do it. The social machinery to formally delegate a spokesman doesn’t exist. But sometimes, somebody has to step up and do the job anyway. Sometimes, the crowd pushes you out in front of it. Other times, you feel duty-bound to try because you believe you’re seeing a bit further into the future than your peers and there is shit coming down that’s got to be dealt with.

    When you find yourself in any of those situations, there are really only two choices available. You can duck and cover. Or, you can lead – and watch to see if anyone follows. Sometimes they will. Each time they follow on an individual issue, you build up social authority and trust that increases the odds that they’ll follow the next time. After enough iterations of this, people start expecting you to lead. One very simple way you can tell this is because they start asking you to do it! They bring you community problems looking for solutions.

    I have some authority to speak for the needs of (asymptotically close to all) computer users because I have diagnosed a problem that affects them all and I can demonstrate some truths about how to remedy it. I have somewhat more authority as an ambassador of the hackers because hackers have seen me do good for them in the past and they ask me and expect me to do more of it. It’s not really complicated.

  227. Shannon Something wrote:

    “What I think is that the Open Source community is utterly indifferent to anyone’s digital intellectual property and sees it as their mission to make sure that no who generates digital content can actually sell it. I think the Open Source community is elitist and has abrogated to themselves the sole right to decide what everyone else’s digital property rights are. ”

    If stupidity would hurt, I could hear your screams over here.

  228. Yeah, ’cause you know, most if not all of the revolutions that the human species has started needed devices to be successful.

  229. I know I’m late to the party on this one but:

    @Patrick
    >Still shows their thinking, and some of us don’t like it.

    Apple’s patent doesn’t “show their thinking” on this matter any more than you having nmap on your computer shows that you’re hacking the Gibson in your spare time. Similarly, the fact that esr highlights the ways that the government can abuse such technologies does not suggest he is planning on doing that himself. The use case Apple highlights in the patent has been a common idea for many many years, so for us to pretend that this is some novel idea and how that the concept is out of the bag we’re all doomed is just silly.

  230. @esr:

    The non-crazy version of the question is “What gives me the authority to try to speak for the needs and desires of all computer users?” Or, to look at a narrower question that comes up more frequently but raises the same fundamental questions, “Who appointed you the ambassador from the hackers?”

    This is all true (and I got this interpretation when I first read it), but it’s completely immaterial to the issue at hand.

    Your post, and your correct exhortation to action, was milder than the average Sunday editorial in a large national newspaper:

    You can take back control. Demand Android in your phones, Linux or BSD in your computers, open source in your Internet router and your digital camera and your power meter and game console and voting machines and even your automobile’s control systems. Otherwise…how will you know who they really serve?

    As you point out, either people will follow you or not. Or maybe (especially in this sort of instance) they don’t even need a leader and they’re racing ahead of you. In any case, when I re-read Mr. Love’s last post, to the extent that it is not, as you put it, “bugfuck crazy”, it’s incredibly evil propaganda, of the kind that accuses your opponent of attempting to do all the nasty things you’re planning on doing yourself.

    I am disturbed because historically the most murderous and dangerous people have been those who appointed themselves the hero of the people. The idea that the group of individuals who could very well one day end up controlling the world’s mission critical software have such a sense of entitlement and believe they have the moral right to be a law unto themselves answerable to no one is very, very scary.

    Since immoral open source people want to take control of mission critical software, the obvious logical conclusion is for people to anoint someone who has recognized and knows how to deal properly with the threat, e.g. someone like Mr. Love himself. Of course, there might be dissidents; those will have to be dealt with first. As he wrote in his “Lying about Apple” article:

    I really wish there was a way to hold people responsible for this level of malice and/or incompetence. But hey, journalists are too important to be held responsible. It might have a “chilling” effect on their bank accounts.

    Crazy? Or evil? Could be one or the other or both, but I’m not giving him a free pass. People who write lies like about how Linux is just useful for stealing stuff, and then opine that there ought to be laws against lying are probably psychopaths.

  231. Tom DeGisi Says:

    “I think Jeff is wrong about this, at least for one mobile provider. I know someone who would know if it true, and he is certain it’s not. It might be true for other providers, but I have no reason to believe it.”

    Thanks for that – it was just plausible enough to be more than a little spooky.

  232. @tmoney:

    Apple’s patent doesn’t “show their thinking” on this matter any more than you having nmap on your computer shows that you’re hacking the Gibson in your spare time. Similarly, the fact that esr highlights the ways that the government can abuse such technologies does not suggest he is planning on doing that himself. The use case Apple highlights in the patent has been a common idea for many many years, so for us to pretend that this is some novel idea and how that the concept is out of the bag we’re all doomed is just silly.

    Drawing a parallel between esr’s thought experiments and the amount of effort and cash it takes to go out and file a patent application is what is silly. Where Apple’s patent tries to lead us is as bad as when there was serious legislation proposed that would make every ADC recognize some sort of copyright flag, which was probably the inspiration for the William Gibson story that Hunt Johnsen mentioned. I don’t know if art always imitates life, but all the creepiest art sure seems to.

    I will grant you that the people at Apple, despite the thousands they are pouring into this application, might not have thought about all the possible bad uses. But given that it’s difficult to think about the “good” uses without imagining possible abuses, all that says is that the people at Apple might just be stupid, and not evil. But Occam’s Razor says they’re not stupid…

    I could countenance seeing a patent application for a secure box that wraps around an iPhone and covers the camera. The security guard locks your phone into it when you enter a secure area, and removes it when you leave. I could understand a patent application for a system that let you store your iPhone in a locker that had bluetooth connectivity to the local LAN and then to an iPod provided by the court through a local wifi system — go to court, put your iPhone in the locker, pick up the iPod, and all your messaging is forwarded.

    There are already phones without cameras that can be used for going to secure areas. But obviously neither those nor the possibilities I mentioned are convenient enough for Apple.

    Which can only mean one thing. Glen Raphael was right about this being about secured areas:

    But wait! Suppose we enable this! Now, employee-issued iPhones are the *only* smartphone allowed in, because it has this unique feature – one can mark presentations and physical spaces “do not record here* using an infrared beacon. Now Apple can sell lots of iPhones to the CIA or whoever.

    Perhaps the only thing he missed in “Now Apple can sell lots of iPhones to the CIA or whoever” is that the initial customer is Apple itself. I’m sure they, like any big company, have lots of secured areas, and their employees all have iPhones, and they’d like the intimate patdown when entering the secured area to be a bit more friendly. Chances are this is already implemented…

    Of course, it would have been more effective for them as a trade secret. Now everybody knows all they need is a tiny IR filter.

  233. Certainly few people are motivated or even capable enough to delve into the code of Android, but those that can and do provide crucial oversight of the technology that’s increasingly central to our lives. Nobody is arguing that Grandma should be patching the kernel.

  234. It is true that the patent does not “show their thinking”. It shows their capabilities, and to borrow the analogy from military intelligence, capabilities often become intentions and vice versa.

  235. @Shannon Love:

    Most importantly of all, is not corporate economic self-interest a more powerful protector of user’s rights than any technical solution? How could Apple conceivably hope to benefit economically from deploying such a technology against the wishes of its users? Doesn’t the very real fact that it would obviously be economic suicide for Apple to even attempt such thing make this a threat of an utterly microscopic scale unworthy of any attention?

    Not if there is rent to seek elsewhere. If Apple has control over every iPhone user’s camera, and I, hypothetical corporate drone for a major concert promoter, or record company, venue management, or **AA, etc. wish to prevent iPhones from recording the concert I’m working to help organize, who must I contact? Who must I pay to get them to shutdown the cameras? Oh, right. Apple. What price will I pay? Whatever Apple is asking.

  236. Am i glad i just chose Android over iphone! Clumsier but free-er!

  237. Having learnt the Android interface first, before having used an iPhone, I now find the iOS interface clunky and lacking in function

  238. Patrick Maupin,

    > Perhaps the only thing he missed in “Now Apple can sell lots of iPhones to the CIA or whoever” is that the initial customer is Apple itself. I’m sure they, like any big company, have lots of secured areas, and their employees all have iPhones, and they’d like the intimate patdown when entering the secured area to be a bit more friendly. Chances are this is already implemented…

    Where I work there is one building where my employer does not want us to take pictures. Given all the leaks we have had over the years, I think they are well within their rights. Too bad, because it’s a beautiful building that begs to be photgraphed. You can guess how I know this. The security guard was very friendly, and I was happy to delete the pictures, since, as I said, my employer was well within it’s rights. I would like for our competetion to be sursprised on a regular basis. My only complaint was that the rule was not posted.

    In addition, as a father of daughters, the idea of phone cameras being disabled in dressing rooms and dormatories is an attractive one. This technology reminds me of mobile phone and GPS jammers. I can think of ways that can be abused by the government too. North Korea is abusing GPS jammers now.

    > > I really wish there was a way to hold people responsible for this level of malice and/or incompetence. But hey, journalists are too important to be held responsible. It might have a “chilling” effect on their bank accounts.

    > Crazy? Or evil? Could be one or the other or both, but I’m not giving him a free pass.

    Nah. I’m going for incompetent. It’s easy to be incompetent. I’ve already failed at making a good cup of coffee and wearing a hat today. Not to mention forgetting that we were playing the fast Monopoly rules last night and overspending on my Baltic and Mediterrean hotels.

    Yours,
    Tom

  239. This technology reminds me of mobile phone and GPS jammers.

    Agreed. At first glance, phone jammers combined with physical confiscation seem like the best ticket for a totalitarian police force to deal with the omnipresent threat of cameras. But phone jammers are a blunt tool, and nearby people might notice their use. And of course, if you’re going to rely on confiscation, you’ve got to make sure that you get the SIM card too.

    In addition, as a father of daughters, the idea of phone cameras being disabled in dressing rooms and dormatories is an attractive one.

    Sure, until you think it through and realize that could make much, much worse mischief than taking a picture a lot easier to get away with.

    Nah. I’m going for incompetent. It’s easy to be incompetent.

    Yeah, we should never discount that possibility.

  240. It really is too bad you’re incapable of thinking, because otherwise, as a Libertarian, pointing out how you’re advocating the violation of the NAP would be persuasive. But I see now that you and “Patrick Martin” are just interested in being dishonest, disparaging and calling people names. You don’t need me for that. But stop calling yourself a libertarian, since you don’t subscribe to the NAP. By doing so, you perpetuate a fraud, which IS a violation of the NAP, and invites a response, which would be delivered in person.

  241. Abolitionist,

    > It really is too bad you’re incapable of thinking, because otherwise, as a Libertarian, pointing out how you’re advocating the violation of the NAP would be persuasive. But I see now that you and “Patrick Martin” are just interested in being dishonest, disparaging and calling people names. You don’t need me for that. But stop calling yourself a libertarian, since you don’t subscribe to the NAP. By doing so, you perpetuate a fraud, which IS a violation of the NAP, and invites a response, which would be delivered in person.

    Are you projecting? I’m pretty sure your comment violates the NAP, by perpetuating a fraud, since esr is not a Libertarian. He is an anarchist. So, please stop making fraudulent arguments. Or did you just make a mistake?

    Yours,
    Tom

  242. >But stop calling yourself a libertarian, since you don’t subscribe to the NAP.

    Um, who are you addressing with this comment? I suppose it is possible that one of the self-described libertarians here doesn’t subscribe to the NAP, but if so I am not aware of it.

  243. >I’m pretty sure your comment violates the NAP, by perpetuating a fraud, since esr is not a Libertarian. He is an anarchist. So, please stop making fraudulent arguments. Or did you just make a mistake?

    Oh, you think he was talking about me? Hm.

    And you just made a mistake. “Libertarian” and “anarchist” aren’t mutually exclusive; about 25% of libertarians are anarchists, and the term the other 75% use for themselves is “minarchist”.

  244. “I caught some crap for sounding like a Richard-Stallman-like extremist when I said that.”

    Perhaps, but it doesn’t make it less true.

    Actually I’m not sure if sounding like “a Richard-Stallman-like extremist” can always be considered as something bad.

  245. @Abolitionist: It really is too bad you’re incapable of thinking…

    @Tom DeGisi: Are you projecting?

    Why, yes, I believe he is, per his earlier comment: “Apple is the only company I’m aware of who has never actually done anything evil.”

  246. esr,

    > And you just made a mistake. “Libertarian” and “anarchist” aren’t mutually exclusive; about 25% of libertarians are anarchists, and the term the other 75% use for themselves is “minarchist”.

    Anarchist seems to be the label you most often chose for yourself, not libertarian.

    Yours,
    Tom

  247. >Anarchist seems to be the label you most often chose for yourself, not libertarian.

    In fact, I frequently use both; see for example where I recently explained that Glenn Reynolds and I are talking very similar bad consequences about the Apple patent because we’re both libertarians. Abolitionist is correct about this much, if nothing else; “libertarian” is properly defined as one who subscribes to the Non-Aggression Principle, which I do.

    Within the category of “libertarian” there are a couple of subdivisions of interest. One is minarchist vs. anarchist, another is deontic vs. consequentialist. To categorize me as exactly as possible with generally public terminology, you could describe me as a consequentialist market anarchist, aligning me very closely with David D. Friedman and a tradition tracing back to F. A. Hayek.

  248. @Tom DeGisi:

    > I’m pretty sure your comment violates the NAP, by perpetuating a fraud, since esr is not a Libertarian.

    To be perfectly pedantic, I don’t think a simple mistaken opinion (like Abolitionist’s claim about esr and me committing fraud) rises to the level of fraud…

  249. >To be perfectly pedantic, I don’t think a simple mistaken opinion (like Abolitionist’s claim about esr and me committing fraud) rises to the level of fraud…

    I wouldn’t say so either. Tom was attempting a sort of tu quoque; it was well targeted but poorly executed. This might have made Tom look like a doof, but since “Abolitionist” had just earned the Royal Order of Dumbass with oak-leaf cluster and a gold aiguillette a few comments previously I think Mr. DeGisi comes out of the exchange looking OK.

  250. esr,

    > This might have made Tom look like a doof

    Much like that hat I tried on this morning. The word anarchist is very confusing to me. I wouldn’t call Hayek an anarchist like you did. I wouldn’t call doubleplusungood, the Canadian socialist an anarchist, but he seems to think socialism and anarchism go together.

    Yours,
    Tom

  251. As I’ve understood it, ‘anarchist’ used to used as a term for anyone who wanted to violently destroy the existing (at that time still ‘Old’) Order. At the time that generally happened to be pre-Lenin Marxists.

    As an aside, the assassin in Sarajevo wasn’t an anarchist (bomb-throwers and assassins of public figures used to just get lumped in as ‘anarchists’), he was a tool of a proto-Fascist (extremely murderous and VERY damn nasty) conspiracy that happened to control the gov’t of Serbia, kind of a horrible offshoot of the already unpleasant Pan-Slavism.

  252. Sorry, to get back on topic there are lots of different people who call themselves ‘anarchist’. Just as Bill Maher has been known to call himself a libertarian. Don’t let it confuse you.

  253. @esr:

    > I think Mr. DeGisi comes out of the exchange looking OK.

    I absolutely agree with this. I was just responding to Tom because everything I had to say to Abolitionist had already been said.

  254. >I wouldn’t call Hayek an anarchist like you did. I wouldn’t call doubleplusungood, the Canadian socialist an anarchist, but he seems to think socialism and anarchism go together.

    That’s a good call, because Hayek wasn’t an anarchist (I didn’t actually say he was one, but your mis-assumption about this is understandable in view of what I did say). But Hayek originated much of the modern libertarian critique of statism – well, the parts that weren’t inherited from the American constitutional and British classical-liberal traditions, anyway. It’s not exaggerating much to say that modern libertarian minarchists are the people who took Hayek seriously, but modern libertarian anarchists are the people who took him very seriously.

    As for your Canadian anarcho-socialist, he’s not much of a mystery actually. There’s a “left anarchist” movement with roots primarily in the thought of Mikhail Bakunin, Karl Marx’s principal opponent as a theoretician of the socialist movement in the mid-1800s. Marx won that battle so completely that the few remaining Bakuninites got badly infected with Marxist language and conceptual categories. I’ve read some of what passes for theory among modern left-anarchists, and well, to call it “incoherent” would be to wallow in understatement. They persist as a sort of emotional tendency lacking a program – I mean, a lot of people think libertarians are utopian dreamers but compared to left-anarchists we’re as sober and hardheaded as a hotel full of accountants.

  255. >Any ideas spring to mind in which the Internet would be more advanced or better than it is today?

    Yes. I was wondering when someone would ask this question.

    One way the Internet could be a lot better if source authentication had been baked into SMTP. Hey presto, and the spam problem is about two orders of magnitude more tractable.

  256. >As I’ve understood it, ‘anarchist’ used to used as a term for anyone who wanted to violently destroy the existing (at that time still ‘Old’) Order. At the time that generally happened to be pre-Lenin Marxists.

    No, that’s not quite right. Nineteenth and early 20th-century use of the term ‘anarchist’ centered on nihilist and Bakuninite anarchism, which was not Marxist in origin. Confusion about this stems from the fact that after about 1870 that anarchist movement became increasingly influenced by Marxist theory, so a distinction that had originally been quite sharp and contentions began to blur.

  257. And you just made a mistake. “Libertarian” and “anarchist” aren’t mutually exclusive; about 25% of libertarians are anarchists, and the term the other 75% use for themselves is “minarchist”.

    And of course, many of us minarchists contend that anarchy is destructive of liberty, so that one can’t be a proper libertarian while advocating anarchy. Many of the anarchists return the favor by saying that once you’ve allowed for any government at all, liberty is screwed, so we can’t be proper libertarians.

    In other news, Shi’a and Sunni accuse each other of not really being Muslims, while Catholics and Protestants aren’t too sure the others are really Christian.

  258. Back on topic:

    Gene Quinn’s take on the patent:

    For now the thought of Apple giving the keys to disable phone functionality to third parties is noteworthy as bizarre. If it actually becomes implemented it will be noteworthy because it is stupid. Such a disable feature strikes me as unacceptable downstream control of a multi-functional device that cease[s] to be multi-functional at the election of someone not privy to the purchase and sale of the device or associated service.

  259. My second thought, after the obvious one, was that this is an opportunity for open source hackers. We should patents every privacy-violating idea we can think of. We’ll license it for a reasonable price and very clear labeling indicating that the product violates your rights.

  260. I still like my original suggested primary use case. Somewhere there’s a mil-spec contract that will go to the first company to provide a powerful communications device that does everything a smartphone does but includes a reliable way to disable recording in secure areas while allowing unencumbered use in unsecured areas. Somebody said “if you could provide this feature, we’d buy thousands of ‘em”. As Apple was looking around for vertical market opportunities, this one popped up on the radar and it seemed like an easy sell.

    How many file clerks in the army currently have the potential ability to leak “sensitive” info to wikileaks, with no practical way to stop it? What do you want to bet there are people who’d like to plug *that* hole? So make a special iPhone 5 with a matte-finish camouflage-colored back and a software image that has this feature enabled by default; it replaces a lot of radios and GPS units and more. Issue it to soldiers in the field and file clerks back home.

    I’m now reasonably convinced it’s a real plan, but still cautiously optimistic that the contagion won’t spread. The main reason for optimism is that it’s still too big a bootstrapping problem to get *everybody* using the image that has this feature turned on. The feature doesn’t need to be in *consumer* phones to accomplish the goal of selling branded phones with that feature to specific high-value customers.

    Think about this from the point of view of a concert venue or movie theater. There’s no point in setting up IR beacons (paying a cost in technology) to stop, say, 5% of your customers from filming. But until you set up the beacons there’s no point in treating beacon-responsive phones differently (better) than normal phones, and until you privilege the responsive phones there’s no incentive for general consumers to go out and get responsive phones. So: bootstrap problem. Consumers won’t like this feature and the RIAA won’t be willing to pay a big enough bribe to get Apple to force it on people, so if the feature is created for use by the military it will probably stay in that realm.

    Another reason for optimism is that if it’s an arms race, it’s a winnable one (ir filters, jailbreaking, using older phones, using android, etcetera). Heck, if phones haven’t been banned in concerts/theaters/shows *yet*, odds are they won’t be in the future either.

    On the other hand if you want to be pessimistic and think the incentive problem will be licked, then you should really be worried that phones *already* have the capability to do this based on positioning information. It’s a Simple Matter Of Programming for Apple to tell phones to periodically check location and simply not record within, say, 100 feet of a football stadium. Based on GPS or wifi signatures.

    I don’t think Apple is a significant customer for this themselves, based on my impression (from the inside) of the relevant social and technological dynamics both at Apple and on the factory floor. Though I could be wrong.

  261. Glen Raphael Says:
    > I still like my original suggested primary use case. Somewhere there’s a mil-spec contract

    I think you’re trying really hard to rationalize how Apple is doing everything except what they obviously are doing.

    Question: since when is it part of Apple’s business plan to sell such specialized devices to vertical markets? Have they ever attempted such before? Apple is a mass-market consumer electronics company, they wouldn’t know where to begin.

    Second problem: reports have circulated widely that DoD is building their own Android-based devices for just such uses. So where would this fit in.

    Third, I know people who are/were in charge of securing DoD facilities. They wouldn’t bother with such. They just make you leave your smartphone at the door. Simple solution to a simple problem.

    Here’s the BOTTOM LINE line for this whole discussion: the possible *good* uses for this technology are few and insignificant whereas the possible *bad* uses are many and onerous. Which is more likely?

    To conclude that Apple is not evil will require evidence that we are not in possession of.

  262. >Many of the anarchists return the favor by saying that once you’ve allowed for any government at all, liberty is screwed, so we can’t be proper libertarians.

    I think which is better is an empirical question, which may possibly be answerable some day: Is it easier to maintain your life, liberty, and other values in the complete absence of government; or is it easier to keep the government limited. While I can’t day for certain, I strongly think from reading history and politics that the former is more realistic; hence I think anarchism is more realistic than minarchism. In practical matters, neither is likely in the near future so both should just support anything that weakens government or corporate power over individuals.

  263. And of course, many of us minarchists contend that anarchy is destructive of liberty, so that one can’t be a proper libertarian while advocating anarchy. Many of the anarchists return the favor by saying that once you’ve allowed for any government at all, liberty is screwed, so we can’t be proper libertarians.

    Oh, won’t the minarchist-anarchist bloodshed ever end…

    …and don’t get me started on the emacs – vi arms race. That powder keg has been quiet… too quiet.

  264. esr writes: “They persist as a sort of emotional tendency lacking a program – I mean, a lot of people think libertarians are utopian dreamers but compared to left-anarchists we’re as sober and hardheaded as a hotel full of accountants.”

    And you know where soap is sold and how its used.

  265. >And you know where soap is sold and how its used.

    Right, I see you’ve actually met some of them, then. Yes.

  266. >Question: since when is it part of Apple’s business plan to sell such specialized devices to vertical markets? Have they ever attempted such before?

    Good question! Answer: Yes, they’ve attempted such before. One vertical market they quite often go after with specialized devices and specialized features is education. The example I’m most familiar with of *exactly* this – Apple building a ruggedized and highly specialized small device not aimed at general consumers on the off chance that they might be able thereby to make big inroads to a specific vertical market segment is: the eMate 300. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EMate_300

    Which now that you mention it brings up a much *better* reason for optimism than any I gave before which is: even if Apple tries to build a device with this feature set aiming at this market it might well be a flop, just as the eMate was. To pull that sort of thing off the stars have to align just right. Price, time-to-market, knowing the right people, competitive landscape…lots of things can go wrong. On the other hand if indeed as you say “reports have circulated widely that DoD is building their own Android-based devices for just such uses” I consider that as *validating* the idea. It proves there *is* a market niche there that Apple might be able to fill. (It’d be a much bigger longshot if there *weren’t* existing competitors!)

  267. (slightly off topic)

    Esr:

    I don’t actually grant the premise. But supposing I did, it would only change the question to this: how much inconvenience will you accept to defend your liberty?

    The claim which most Open Source people like yourself make is that open source methodology is superior to the conventional closed source one and produces better software. Based on that, this argument of yours doesn’t work. I demandthat it’s less inconvenient than closed source or I’m not going to switch. Linus’ law and the other things about peer review and collaborative development which most open source advocates tout convinced me that I’ll get better stuff if I switch to Open Source software. I’m not particularly technical so the low level details often escape me but if your software is crippled and doesn’t really work as well as the proprietary equivalent, you have no right to claim that open source as a methodology is superior.

    I had the chance to see Richard Stallman speak at a conference recently. I’ll admit his lack of polish and charisma but his point that even a technically inferior product which is libre is better than the the superior one that is proprietary casts this in the proper light. That’s an argument that I can digest. I’m willing to educate myself on the finer details of freedom that free software gives me and move to that rather than drink the open source cool aid and get disappointed with crappy apps that don’t really work properly. My main point is that either you follow the open source argument of superior development methodology leading to better programs (in which case, I’m tired of waiting for you to deliver on your promise) or you follow the free software argument and sometimes willingly compromise on quality to get software that respects your freedom (which I can swallow).

    As for support, I’m very happy with Apple. Their Apple care program is better than anything which anyone (proprietary or free) which I’ve gotten from anywhere. I’ve had my entire macbook replaced after a rather nasty accident for free. They overdo the “it just works” bit but it sure works better than most open source apps I’ve seen. I worked for a company that ran RHEL with support from RedHat and it was simply awful. Even a tenth of what Apple provided would have been light years ahead of what RH gave us.

  268. So here’s why Apple *itself* isn’t a customer for this thing. Here in the US there’s two kinds of people you worry about: insiders and outsiders. The true insiders have *so much* information and access that just preventing them from taking pictures in a few places isn’t gonna help much. Some of them have blueprints. Others get to take the device *home* with them during testing. If those people are sufficiently motivated you can’t stop them from screwing up the surprise, so the trick is to (a) keep them motivated not to tell, and (b) minimize their numbers. Then there are outsiders…who generally don’t know anything or see anything so you don’t care what they take pictures of.

    You do care about not inconveniencing the high-paid engineers, but you also inherently have to trust some of them; the ones you don’t trust are never in a position to see the new device unsupervised so making it hard for them to take pictures of what they see doesn’t help. As for the guy who empties the wastebaskets…you generally lock up the prototypes before he comes in and you also don’t mind inconveniencing him – there’s nothing about his job or status that requires him to carry a smart phone.

    So yes, Apple has secrets, but this technology is not really a solution to the problems Apple has in the US. And the factory in China is probably much the same deal. The people you worry most about either (a) are searched leaving and not allowed to have cameras, (b) are insufficiently in your control that you can mandate what phone they use, (c) have so much necessary access that restrictions on photos don’t help so much, or some combination thereof.

  269. Mr. Eric?

    kk man is a semicoherent loon….
    I’d take that as a compliment!!!
    And yes i neither have an understudy or sadly do any newsletter.

    by the way do ya know what kk stands for??
    kk= kuku = cuckoo!!!!

    The REAL TRUTH is KK!!!!

    Anyway about this Orwellian stuff ????
    it already manifest itself to the fulles on sept 2011….
    when 3 build in NYC was made to dust!!!
    With hardly any or no impact at all.

    Anyway I’d leave you with the wisdom of what Mr. Paul C has to say..
    For you libertarian he is cuckoo too…
    Please enjoy!!

    ———————————————————————–

    Hail Caesar!
    The Default Specter as Political Theater

    By PAUL C

    Although the financial press speculates about a downgrade of the US government’s credit rating and default if political impasse prevents the debt ceiling from being raised in time, I doubt anyone really believes that the debt ceiling will not be raised. It is just all a part of the political theater of the next couple of months.

    Republicans will blame the budget deficit and accumulated national debt on Medicare and Social Security. Wall Street sees billions of profits in privatizing either, and debt rating agencies will oblige their Wall Street paymasters by opining from time to time that US Treasury bonds might be downgraded unless “entitlements can be addressed and the deficit brought under control.”

    Democrats will say that the budget deficit cannot be addressed without an increase in tax revenues, especially from the rich whose incomes have exploded upward while their tax rates have declined.

    All the while the pressure of an approaching deadline for default will be used to reshape the US social contract, most likely in the further interest of the rich.

    However, regardless of whether the debt ceiling is raised, the US government is not going to go out of business. Why does anyone think that the President, who does not obey the War Powers Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, US and international laws against torture, or any of the laws and procedures that guard civil liberty, is going to feel compelled to obey the debt ceiling?

    As long as the US is at war, the American President is a Caesar. He is above the law. The US Justice (sic) Department has ruled this, and Congress and the Courts have accepted it.

    Moreover, the Federal Reserve is independent of the government. In its approach to regulatory matters and bailouts, the Fed has ceased to follow its own rules. Regardless of the debt ceiling, the Fed will continue to purchase the Treasury’s bond issues, and the Treasury will continue to fund the federal deficit with the proceeds. If Goldman Sachs is too big to fail, certainly the US government is.

    As Congress has abandoned its powers over war, how can Congress hold on to its powers over spending? It cannot. Indeed, an impasse between the political parties over the debt ceiling would be welcomed by the executive branch as more proof that Congress is incapable of doing its part in governing and, therefore, the task has of necessity passed to the executive branch, which already does most of it.

    If the President can declare on his own authority, without statutory basis and in defiance of the US Constitution, that he can assassinate US citizens who he considers to be a threat to national security, he certainly can declare that default is a threat to national security and that it is within his powers as commander-in-chief to ignore the debt ceiling.

    Indeed, the executive branch would jump at the chance. Then it could reshape the budget to its own pleasing without having to consult Congress on spending any more than the executive branch consults Congress on war.

    The Bush/Cheney regime brought democracy and accountable government to an end. If Obama doesn’t finish the process, the next in line will.

  270. Glen Raphael Says:
    > On the other hand if indeed as you say “reports have circulated widely that DoD is building their own Android-based devices for just such uses” I consider that as *validating* the idea.

    Possibly, but doubtful. The rumored Android device was generally described as a “battlefield computer” or somesuch and likely fills a different niche than what you were describing. I mentioned it only to bring out the point that DoD development/procurement is an odd beast and rarely do they tend to settle for such an off the shelf item.

    DoD has a lot of experience securing high value facilities and I can’t imagine they would think that adding such gadgetry to a bunch of iPhones would increase that security by any useful amount. You still have to inspect every pocket, purse, parcel and gadget entering the premises and then you have to have the magic flashing lights *everywhere* you don’t want a picture taken. Such seems laughable to anyone steeped in military pragmatism.

  271. >are insufficiently in your control that you can mandate what phone they use,

    Exactly. And it doesn’t even need to look like a security issue. Apple can say something like “Steve Jobs wouldn’t like to hear that a non-iPhone was in here.”

  272. Glen,

    > On the other hand if indeed as you say “reports have circulated widely that DoD is building their own Android-based devices for just such uses” I consider that as *validating* the idea.

    iPhones and iPods are very popular among soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen. DoD has built specialized software for iOS. They are aiming for both eco-systems. Think about it politically. DoD is huge. I’m sure there are Apple, Android, webOS and even RIM partisans in DoD with enough pull to make some influential sales guy at the respective corporations salivate enough to ring some engineer’s bell.

    Yours,
    Tom

  273. Glen, you left out: “or will just leave the top secret prototype in a coffee shop for a tech writer to find.”

  274. > And it doesn’t even need to look like a security issue. Apple can say something like “Steve Jobs wouldn’t like to hear that a non-iPhone was in here.”

    I doubt that would even work in Cupertino. As for China, when I was at the GSL (Group Sense Limited) factory I actually had trouble explaining to people where *California* was.

    > Glen, you left out: “or will just leave the top secret prototype in a coffee shop for a tech writer to find.”

    Right, that would be another way this technology wouldn’t help. :-)

    Whatever Apple is doing *now* to control leaks seems to be working pretty well; the places where it doesn’t wouldn’t have been helped by this technology. Incidentally, when I was at Apple they didn’t search employees anywhere I could see. What they did instead was use key cards with fairly fine-grained control. If you have no business being in a particular building or a particular office, your key card doesn’t open the door. The people who do software development and testing mostly do so on weird breadboard machines and obvious test hardware and older-model hardware – they don’t see the final thing until it’s very close to shipping. ( I did much of my testing using one of these monstrosities, which had missed its market window and therefore never shipped – the “Bic”: http://www.flickr.com/photos/abeles/4285147641/ ).

  275. So Apple has patented a technology that let’s an entity, in theory, disable you/others from capturing you/others on video. Is this really that bad? Think it through…

    Perhaps. Still, with each passing day ours becomes a society under surviellance (with Google leading the way, followed closely by our government).

    Is having the power to prevent others from videotaping you really disempowering? Cause it seems to me that actually has the potential to promote individual liberty.

    I think Mr. Raymond should spend a few more seconds thinking about this rather than tut tutting that these are not the good old days.

  276. not(Andy Rubin), we already have law enforcement believing that videotaping them doing their job is or ought to be a crime. Try to address that rather than pretend that Apple intends to create a new tool for privacy (giggle).

  277. >we already have law enforcement believing that videotaping them doing their job is or ought to be a crime.
    >Try to address that rather than pretend that Apple intends to create a new tool for privacy (giggle).

    This is something you address through laws aimed at reigning in law enforcement, not through railing against new technology. Every tool can be used for evil, and they can be used for good as well. Besides, we have cops that actually are arresting people for video taping them, Apple has yet to produce any software employing the use case described. If you’re so worried, shouldn’t you be addressing the very real problem that exists now, rather than the one that might happen in the future?

  278. > This is something you address through laws aimed at reigning in law enforcement, not through railing against new technology.

    I think the point was that the new technology is far more likely to be used for this evil than for anything good. The point was already made upstream that this technology could help the cops keep people from videoing them doing their dirty work without any of the muss and fuss of arresting people.

    Since most of the arrests of videographers take place where the arrests themselves are illegal (by local law, not just the constitution), it seems unlikely that addressing this through “laws aimed at reigning in law enforcement” would really be that useful because it is already being done. Keeping this capability out of the hands of the police, OTOH, would be extremely useful.

  279. tmoney, that’s nonsense. I can and shall do both. And frankly, I don’t find your response to be substantive at all.

  280. >Keeping this capability out of the hands of the police, OTOH, would be extremely useful.

    And how would you do that? The same way that you keep the ability to break DRM out of the hands of non-rights holders? The point is, railing against this tech, trying to cover it up, hide it and keep it secret will be about as effective as gun control or the war on drugs.

  281. And how would you do that? The same way that you keep the ability to break DRM out of the hands of non-rights holders? The point is, railing against this tech, trying to cover it up, hide it and keep it secret will be about as effective as gun control or the war on drugs.

    That’s silly and completely backwards. We don’t want to try to cover up and hide this technology. We want everybody to be vigilant about it so that people know to look for it and not buy devices controlled by it. We want the people “trying to cover it up, hide it and keep it secret” to be about as effective as the people doing gun control or the war on drugs. (BTW, it’s all the same people.)

  282. tmoney, I’m puzzled why your argument depends so much on mischaracterization of our responses to this technology?

  283. Pingback: The blotter: Week ending 19 June 2011 | ARTS & FARCES internet

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