Why Apple should allow Jailbreaking

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has just asked the U.S. Copyright Office to exempt jailbreaking of smart phones, tablets, etc from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Specifically, the exemptions are with respect to section 1201 of the DMCA, prohibiting circumvention of “a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.”

Before you call this a pipedream, it should be noted that the EFF was successful once before, in 2009.

Personally, I'm disappointed, but not surprised that Apple, or anyone else, is pulling a Music Industry move, because they are paranoid about losing profits or market control. In effect, they are trying to protect the forest from the trees.

There are several reasons why jailbreaking is a good thing for Apple:

Jailbreaking tends to introduce changes to the architecture and software that would have been otherwise missed. This has been proven over and over again from the hacker paradigm: a security systems gets hacked and consequently improved. In the case of jailbreaking, there is also evidence of this happening. A security fix will sometimes be developed by the jailbreakers because the corporation is either too slow to fix, or not fixing it at all.

Jailbreaking has led to improved usability. Jailbreakers, for example, were first to configure keyboards to wirelessly connect with the smartphone.

In particular, when jailbreakers innovate, it's usually in areas that the manufacturer is ignoring, usually due to corporate culture, or cognitive dissonance. Without jailbreakers, these innovation, like pulldown notification or wireless syncing, might not have occurred.

Jailbreakers have also broken new ground in privacy, such as introducing apps that will hide text messages from automatically appearing on the front screen for everyone to see.

Apple has a great opportunity to tap into a vibrant and incredibly creative community. It's amazing that they think they can suppress this creativity through draconian measures.

I'm hoping that the EFF can be successful, and maybe that Apple will open its eyes. If not, it won't take long for all the goodwill generated by such remarkably innovative products to evaporate. And then, they will replace Microsoft as the new Satan for the new millenium.

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