Free Software Foundation statement on the new iPhone, Apple Pay, and Apple Watch
Today, Apple announced new iPhone models, a watch, and a payment service. In response, FSF executive director John Sullivan made the following statement:
It is astonishing to see so much of the technology press acting as Apple's marketing arm. What's on display today is widespread complicity in hiding the most newsworthy aspect of the announcement -- Apple's continuing war on individual computer user freedom, and by extension, free speech, free commerce, free association, privacy, and technological innovation.
Every review that does not mention Apple's insistence on using Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) to lock down the devices and applications they sell is doing an extreme disservice to readers, and is a blow to the development of the free digital society we actually need. Any review that discusses technical specs without first exposing the unethical framework that produced those products, is helping usher people down a path that ends in complete digital disempowerment.
Keep a tally of how many reviews you read today mention that Apple threatens anyone who dares attempt installing another operating system like Android on their Apple phone or watch with criminal prosecution under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Keep a tally of how many reviews mention that Apple devices won't allow you to install any unapproved applications, again threatening you with jail time if you attempt to do so without Apple's blessing. Keep a tally of how many reviews highlight Apple's use of software patents and an army of lawyers to attack those developing a more free computing environment than theirs.
We've seen several examples since the last Apple product announcement of times when smartphones and other computers have been used for political activism and important free speech. We've also seen several examples of times when such expressions have been censored. If we continue allowing Apple this kind of control, censorship and digital "free speech zones" will become the permanent norm.
There is a reason that the inventor of the US's first internally programmable computer shuns Apple devices as antithetical to vital kinds of creativity. But it's not enough to just say "Don't buy their products." The laws Apple and others use to enforce their digital restrictions, giving them a subsidized competitive advantage over products that respect user freedom, must be repealed.
At least the watch did end up having a clasp so you can remove it -- we were worried.
We urge users to investigate ways to support the use of mobile and wearable devices which do not restrict users' essential freedoms. Such projects include Replicant, a free software fork of Android, and F-Droid, an app repository of exclusively free software for Android. People should also let Tim Cook at Apple know how they feel.