How Apple and Congress Limit iPhone Users' Freedom
Tim Lee in response to my post on the EFF’s attack on Apple:
[Consumers are] being deprived of the freedom to purchase legal jailbreaking tools. In 1998, Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which makes it a felony to distribute products “primarily designed” for circumventing copy-protection schemes like the one on the iPhone. Breaking the law “willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage” can get you a half-million dollar fine and five years in prison. …
When Apple decided to lock down the iPhone, it was effectively invoking the force of criminal law against jailbreaking. That seems like a restriction on users’ freedom to me even if, like me and Jerry, you view freedom in terms of negative rights.
I agree with Tim that the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision is a misguided encroachment on personal liberty. But it’s Congress, not Apple, that is to blame. As far as I know, Apple didn’t lobby for the law, and iIt’s not their fault that locking down a phone can create criminal liabilities. But even if Apple willfully avails itself of the law, the solution is not to force Apple to be open through regulation, but instead to repeal the anti-circumvention law. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Apple isn’t depriving anyone of liberty; the government is.