Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
DRM Iphone Microsoft Apple Technology Your Rights Online

Richard Stallman: 'Apple Has Tightest Digital Handcuffs In History' 515

Posted by Soulskill
from the taking-applications-for-digital-houdini dept.
jrepin points out a discussion with Richard Stallman in which he talks about how the Free Software movement is faring in light of companies that have been successful in the long term with very different principles, like Microsoft and Apple. Stallman had this to say: "I would say the free software movement has gone about half the distance it has to travel. We managed to make a mass community but we still have a long way to go to liberate computer users. Those companies are very powerful. They are cleverly finding new ways to take control over users. ... The most widely used non-free programs have malicious features – and I’m talking about specific, known malicious features. ... There are three kinds: those that spy on the user, those that restrict the user, and back doors. Windows has all three. Microsoft can install software changes without asking permission. Flash Player has malicious features, as do most mobile phones. Digital handcuffs are the most common malicious features. They restrict what you can do with the data in your own computer. Apple certainly has the digital handcuffs that are the tightest in history. The i-things, well, people found two spy features and Apple says it removed them and there might be more. When people don’t know about this issue they choose based on immediate convenience and nothing else. And therefore they can be herded into giving up their freedom by a combination of convenient features, pressure from institutions and the network effect."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Richard Stallman: 'Apple Has Tightest Digital Handcuffs In History'

Comments Filter:
  • Freedom (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amiga3D (567632) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @04:33PM (#42195593)

    Most people don't really care about being free. They'd rather be safe and feel secure even if it's only an illusion.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @04:36PM (#42195635)

    Have you seen the ubuntu app store?

    You can't get easier and all the stuff you are talking about is even free.

  • by Joehonkie (665142) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @04:38PM (#42195669) Homepage
    "And therefore they can be herded into giving up their freedom by a combination of convenient features, pressure from institutions and the network effect." Or, perhaps, they judged what they want and what they are giving up and chose something of their own accord because they don't care about the same things in their computing experience that RMS does. Crazy, I know.
  • Re:Apple Spyware?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_B0fh (208483) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @04:44PM (#42195739) Homepage

    As was I. CarrierIQ, as implemented on iOS, *DID NOT* have the spyware pieces enabled. If there was no spyware, how can you justify calling it spying?

    Remember, at its core, CarrierIQ is simply a monitoring solution. That you can turn it into spyware means that someone was doing stupid things.

  • Fuck him. (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @04:44PM (#42195755)

    Nice try, RMS. Open Source is a movement that Free Software charlatans and cultists like to leech off of to serve their own demagoguery. As someone who contributes code and advice to multiple open source projects (although I'll only contribute to BSD or similarly-licensed projects: Absolutely no GPL3), there are few things that make me want to stop and just focus on my traditional-closed-source programmer day job than RMS being given so much as a single breath of air.

    Time to grow up and move on, Slashdot. You'd be surprised how many of us in the Open Source movement have.

  • by jonnythan (79727) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @04:45PM (#42195763) Homepage

    Yes, and it's full of an incomprehensible jumble of hundreds of apps that do the same thing, with a distinct lack of the super-common apps that most people (and the computer kid down the street) know how to use already.

  • Liberate users? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @04:46PM (#42195785)

    I was going to write something sardonic until I read his wiki entry for "personal life."
    He reminds me of a LARPer, but instead of being invested in fantasy quests, he's obsessed about privacy.

    Don't get me wrong, I worry about privacy, but he just takes it to a whole different level. Personally, I worry about diet and exercise, something he doesn't seem to prioritize. But, to each his own.

  • Re:Freedom (Score:2, Insightful)

    by vikingpower (768921) <exercitussolus@gmaiYEATSl.com minus poet> on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @04:49PM (#42195831) Homepage Journal
    Even if I fully agree with Stallman, I agree with you, too. The 2 opinions do not exclude eachother. Where are my f*****g modpoints ?
  • by fredprado (2569351) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @04:52PM (#42195895)
    Mostly because they can't see what waits them in the end of the road if they keep on this path. RMS has a very good point. Most users would abhor, if they could see a bit ahead, the dystopia companies like Apple and MS want to create where they have absolute control over what we can or cannot do with the devices we buy. If they don't it is mostly because of ignorance.
  • by partyguerrilla (1597357) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @04:55PM (#42195937)
    Nice argumentum ad-hominem you got there, champ.
  • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @05:03PM (#42196061)

    Yes, and it's full of an incomprehensible jumble of hundreds of apps that do the same thing, with a distinct lack of the super-common apps that most people (and the computer kid down the street) know how to use already.

    Just to clarify, are you talking about Apples app store, the ubuntu app store, or a 3rd app store like the google play app store or the amazon app store or ?

    What you've described is pretty much the inherent characteristics of every bbs file section / ftp site / shareware cdrom / gopher site / file download web site / app store that's ever existed.

  • by Dahamma (304068) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @05:10PM (#42196147)

    Wow, that video started making me nauseous - and THEN I saw what you were talking about! Best comment: "Stallman only obtains his food from open sores."

    Still - don't take someone's opinion less seriously because they are physically disgusting. Take them less seriously because they are pompous, arrogant, and have no interest in listening to anyone else's point of view on a subject.

    Though to be honest, I actually mostly agree with his comments on Apple's "handcuffs", at least. Though I don't think telling people they are being "herded" is going to win over anyone...

  • Re:Freedom (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bjwest (14070) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @05:14PM (#42196217)

    The malware I clean up day after day is not an illusion. Freedom isn't free. It requires constant vigilance. The freedom to tinker has no value to me, and the cost in my time is absurd. I would have to be an idiot not to use a locked down device.

    And this malware you speak of is on which platform? Is it an open or closed platform? I've been using Linux for well over 15 years, and I've never, NEVER had a virus or malware on my system. I've also been using an Android phone since the original Droid which has also never had malware or a virus on it.

    Perhaps its because, as they say, Linux isn't mainstream enough to become a target, but I don't think so. I think it'd due to the openness and community support of the code. No one is trying to hide the security flaws - anyone can look though the code - so they get found and fixed quickly.

    There are malware on the Android platform (no more so than on ios or win moble/8/whatever it's called this week), but it's relatively new and not as polished as the rest of the Linux distros. Also a lot of venders add custom, proprietary code. Just don't click on every link you see and you'll be fine.

  • Re:Freedom (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @05:31PM (#42196447) Homepage Journal

    Most people don't really care about being free. They'd rather be safe and feel secure even if it's only an illusion.

    Isn't the freedom to chose safety itself an exercise of choice?

    Not when there's no choice involved.

    For example, I never agreed to sacrifice my right to travel freely in exchange for airport feel-ups and highway checkpoints (actions which, coincidentally, do not actually make anyone safer).

  • by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @05:32PM (#42196453)

    People care about safety after a host of different attributes, such as: convenience, sex appeal, price, social status, etc...

    Well, the TSA sure as hell isn't convenient, and it wastes our tax dollars, at that.

  • Re:Car (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Microlith (54737) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @05:36PM (#42196511)

    People aren't hearded in to giving up their freedoms.

    Sure they are. All the companies with power have to do is push tech in a certain direction and ensure that what options are made available serve their purposes. Most people will go along without asking any questions, in many cases because they don't know what questions to ask.

    There are certain freedoms that those people just don't *need* to begin with.

    Says who? I'm sure a justification can be made to suggest you don't *need* any freedom you have.

    My mother, who has an iPhone, isn't handcuffed - if anything, the device liberates her into using technology that she wouldn't otherwise use in in the modern world.

    That she doesn't venture far enough to reach the fence doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Suggesting that the fence must exist for it to be usable for her is an unfounded argument so, please, don't go there as so many do.

    There are products across the spectrum that address the balance between usable and the freedom to do whatever you'd like.

    Not really. All I've seen is an increase in lock down. More restrictions, not fewer.

    Just because manufacturers lock down their devices doesn't mean there's not a suitable audience that doesn't benefit.

    Lock down that puts the end-user perpetually on the outside of the security model is never intended to benefit the audience except may be as an unintentional side effect.

  • by dgatwood (11270) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @05:42PM (#42196581) Journal

    You're half right. It's not about avoiding making decisions. It's about being afraid of making a dangerous decision without realizing it. Folks like you and me understand computers. We understand how our actions affect our experience. Most folks don't. And they don't want to. They don't want to think about whether opening that attachment will actually run some app on their machine that installs a keylogger and sends their credit card login information to a server in Croatia. They want their device to work for them, not against them, and as you yourself put it, they are notoriously unreliable at making good decisions about what is or is not a safe action. So for them, the only way to have a modicum of safety and comfort is to have less freedom.

    What corporate control does is creates a responsible party that at least ostensibly should be able to make more informed decisions about what is and is not safe than your average non-programmer. This is not saying that it should not be possible for people who know what they are doing and truly understand the risks to get out from under that corporate control—it can be useful, even necessary at times—but rather that systems should be designed in such a way that it is really, really freaking obvious when you stray outside those lines. If you don't have to work at it, then straying outside those bounds becomes second nature, and people begin to take it for granted that what they're doing is safe even when it really isn't.

  • by davydagger (2566757) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @05:43PM (#42196593)
    "I can install any software on my iPhone that I want, provided I can write it."

    unless apple decides they don't want you to, and then they can remotely wipe it without telling you.

    "Isn't that the sort of freedom that would appeal to Mr. Stallman?"
    part of it. the other part is the right to run any programs you want from anywhere, because its your hardware, with no preconditions set by the hardware manufacturer.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @05:54PM (#42196765)

    Exactly. Convenience is the *hard* part of software. RMS shouldn't be belittling people for wanting to use software that doesn't get in their way. If anything, he should be berating the FOSS folks who hit the 'usable' mark and stop improving to the 'convenient to use' mark. It's the lack of polish, not features, that does the most to hold back FOSS software. A powerful tool that is hard to use is going to get less use than a less powerful tool that is easy to use.

  • by fyngyrz (762201) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @05:56PM (#42196807) Homepage Journal

    See, the difference is that rivers never used to flow uphill, so yes, there's your myth. Privacy did, in fact, have a significant role in our society -- that is not a myth. This was before folks like you grew up and got into the system. The 4th amendment used to mean something. But what it meant (primarily) was that the federal, and pretty much the state, governments had hard limits on them. They no longer do, as SCOTUS has made perfectly clear. So you're right, when you characterize it as "putting the genie back in the bottle" in terms of difficulty. However, you're very wrong when you characterize it as a myth. Vestiges still remain. As they go, there will be some uproar from those who understand the value of what is being lost, and yes, I know, you don't have to tell me -- that won't include you or people like you.

  • Re:Freedom (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 19thNervousBreakdown (768619) <davec-slashdot@l ... t ['per' in gap]> on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:00PM (#42196881) Homepage

    I've been using Linux for well over 15 years, and I've never, NEVER had a virus or malware on my system. I've also been using an Android phone since the original Droid which has also never had malware or a virus on it.

    That you know of.

  • by Dahamma (304068) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:25PM (#42197245)

    While I agree that someone can still be brilliant but completely socially backward, you are equating chewing your fingernails with sitting down in a large lecture, taking your shoe and sock off, picking something off of your foot, and visibly munching down on it.

    Biting his fingernails in front of a crowd would be a pretty bad habit. Picking his nose and eating it in front of the crowd (which I'm not sure he wasn't doing earlier in the video, anyway) is very "socially backward". Taking off his shoe and eating his own toenails (or whatever it was) on camera in the middle of hundreds of people is getting pretty borderline. I wouldn't go as far as saying borderline insane, but borderline dementia or some other mental disturbance, possibly...

  • Thank you (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:33PM (#42197379)

    Just finished reading the comments, thank you all, most insightful in understanding the demographics of /. today: rage comic addicts with a depressingly shallow perspective on free software and that would gladly trade their siblings for the next iShiny and that think that saying inanity like "Well, freedom isn't important if the product is usable" is anything more than a mediocre platitude. Reading Computer Shopper adverts was more challenging that this drivel, "Oh, I don't mind that I don't own the software or even know what they do with my data because it is soooo convenient lol this RMS guy is so out of it!".

    Magnis nomini umbra indeed Slashdot.

  • by bursch-X (458146) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:46PM (#42197579)
    But that's a freedom most of the population couldn't care less about. Let's say I was making a fuss, because I couldn't get the InDesign data for all the books I own, and those books were evil, because they were taking away the freedom to design them in a more legible and typographically sound way. You couldn't care less, but honestly I sometimes don't even consider reading something that is designed just too badly, since I am a typography/design geek. But you might not give a flying f*ck about these things. Sometimes things you consider extremely important are just totally irrelevant to others.
  • by crioca (1394491) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:49PM (#42197627)

    I'm sorry, but after watching Stallman eat his own foot-candy *while giving a presentation*, I can no longer take *anything* he says seriously

    That's seems like more of a problem with you though than with him. His lack of social grace has little relevance to his insights on computing, but someone being narrow minded has an impact across a large potion of their life.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @07:17PM (#42198017) Homepage

    The freedom to tinker means that you can get your oil changed at Jiffy Lube.

    The freedom to tinker allows for a greater degree of flexibility, and lower prices, and enables innovators. It's so pervasive in many areas that people like you even take it for granted.

    You don't recognize it even when it's staring you in the face.

    The freedom to tinker is why the PC even exists. The same goes for any of it's killer apps.

    This goes WAY beyond what RMS wants out of a computing device.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @07:44PM (#42198295)

    I'm not a psychiatrist, but I know other people with similar eating disorders and he may well have Pica. [wikipedia.org] Dismissing his ideas because of that is not unlike picking on the socially awkard kid who is also a genius.

    If RMS were "normal" he wouldn't have had the insight and persistence that earned him universal recognition as the father of the Free software movement and a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship. If the price he pays for the genius is a little socially inappropriate behavior when he's stressed and it doesn't hurt anyone, then what's really the problem here? Sounds more like a convenient red herring than anything else.

  • by Chrontius (654879) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @07:52PM (#42198363)

    On the subject of phones, my free choice is what OpenMoko and nothing else? What's wrong with this picture? Let me count the ways.

    • Not available in America. I must order from:
      • Spain
      • India
      • Belgium
      • Germany
      • France
      • Switzerland
      • Netherlands
    • Not available subsidized; costs 300 euro.
    • Expensive - over $1000 when upgraded, and still generation-gapped.
      • Subsidizing a handset is part of my cell bill, whether I replace my phone or not.
    • Not feature complete
      • Have they got calling working yet?
      • No camera. To get a 1.3 mp camera, I must buy additional hardware, plug a module into the motherboard, and drill the case myself. Camera board is MIA.
      • Lousy screen - VGA.
      • Upgrade boards are now MIA, stuck with 350 MHz processor.
    • Slow - 2G wireless.

    I cannot bear the cost of learning to audit my Linux kernels, and I am forced to trust a vendor. I cannot trust Google to respect my pseudonyms - or if I use them, to not brick my phone. I cannot trust Blackberry to stay in business. I cannot trust Microsoft to make a software ecosystem (may as well use a pretty feature-phone!). I cannot trust OpenWebOS to ship hardware. I cannot trust Apple to let me hack my hardware. Only one of these choices implies a phone I can use, and count on continuing to use for the duration of a 2-year phone contract.

    That the vendor I choose has sex appeal is just gravy. I'd like to avoid the digital handcuffs, but my choice is one of several sets of said metaphorical handcuffs or a choice that Stallman ignores - a cheap, dumb "burner" phone that makes calls. Then, I'd be free to what? Carry around a non-encumbered 35mm film camera, a relatively unencumbered Diskman and a small selection of about 60 CDs, and hire a courier to deliver a newspaper whenever I'd like to read the news and I'm away from my desk.

  • by anyaristow (1448609) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @07:54PM (#42198383)

    I'm so tired of hearing OSS fanatics tell me I'm not free. What, exactly, am I not free to do?

    Install your OS on my device? Why the hell would I want to do that?
    Shop in your app store? Why the hell would I want to do that? Have you not noticed you app store kinda sucks?
    Install music moving it between folders? Why the hell would I want to do that?
    Use Gimp? Oops, I *can* do that. If for some damned reason I wanted to.

    Freedom to do things the hard way? Freedom to not use professional tools? Freedom to get help from condescending jerks?

    What, precisely, am I not free to do?

  • by milkmage (795746) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @01:07AM (#42200785)

    "That's the borderline insane part. " i don't think it's insanity..
    is a simple failure to recognize social norms. think about what you do in your car (dig for gold) at a stoplight. you forget you are in a little glass box where everyone can see you.

    i've seen women applying makeup, men shaving, people flossing.. BUT those same people (hopefully) don't do that at the fucking dinner table.. RMS is just in his car ALL THE TIME.

    brilliant guy, but the social graces of a mountain fucking gorilla...

    have you seen his requirements for a personal appearance? I don't think the biggest Hollywood diva's get this specific:

    "Above 72 fahrenheit (22 centigrade) I find sleeping quite difficult. (If the air is dry, I can stand 23 degrees.) A little above that temperature, a strong electric fan blowing on me enables me to sleep. More than 3 degrees above that temperature, I need air conditioning to sleep."

    complete list: https://secure.mysociety.org/admin/lists/pipermail/developers-public/2011-October/007647.html [mysociety.org]

  • by tyrione (134248) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @03:22AM (#42201351) Homepage

    I'm not a psychiatrist, but I know other people with similar eating disorders and he may well have Pica. [wikipedia.org] Dismissing his ideas because of that is not unlike picking on the socially awkard kid who is also a genius.

    If RMS were "normal" he wouldn't have had the insight and persistence that earned him universal recognition as the father of the Free software movement and a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship. If the price he pays for the genius is a little socially inappropriate behavior when he's stressed and it doesn't hurt anyone, then what's really the problem here? Sounds more like a convenient red herring than anything else.

    Then Einstein must have been a moron or an idiot for not indulging in deplorable hygiene habits. After all, his genius certainly should have afforded him blowing himself in public with how abnormal his insights on Physics have been. Your argument portrays you as an enabler of his repulsive traits because you think the guy is brilliant and his social value far exceeds his personal social habits. Here is a clue: He's not. He's a guy with a Bachelor's degree in Physics. Helping to write a James Gosling free version of Emacs should never have won him such high praise. James Gosling for inventing Emacs, Java and much more should sit far higher on the shelves of genius in the world of modern Computer Science. Stallman is an activist who amazingly barks loudly about free source, but quietly recognizes without the tens and tens of billions of dollars, euros, etc., poured into Open Source projects the entire movement goes no where.

    Linux is nothing without billions from IBM, Oracle and many others. Torvalds knows it. These corporations gladly throw the money into areas they know would cost far more to duplicate, in-house, and the areas of distinction are spent more on R&D and Patenting as any sensible person would do. There is a reason so many corporations are busting their hump with LLVM/Clang and the exponentially growing list of projects embracing it--Open Source can be Open and still Open in Licensing that doesn't bind everyone to the GPL. The GPL has many excellent qualities about it--sans Richard Stallman.d

"How do I love thee? My accumulator overflows."

Working...