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iPad, Digital Restrictions and Free Software

January 29, 2010

This is intended as a comment on the post Daily View 2×2: 29 January 2010 over on Lib Dem Voice; it was rejected as being too spammy, presumably because it contains links which back up what I’m saying.

There’s a lot of hype about Apple’s new product, the iPad. The main concern I have is that it’s not the general-purpose computing device people seem to assume it is; you can’t run what you want on it, only what Apple say you can. This is a big step backwards in computing history, and means for example that you can’t run free software on Apple handhelds, which immediately removes huge swathes of quality software from the reach of Apple users.

There’s a campaign against the Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) which stop the iPad being useful, launched by the campaign group Defective By Design. Removing DRM doesn’t mean taking away the App Store, or making the iPad any less easy to use. It means giving Apple users more freedom to run the apps they choose on their systems, as well as the ability to benefit from community improvements on those apps which are free software.

Defective By Design have run some great campaigns against Apple’s Digital Restrictions Management in the past, which contributed to Apple dropping DRM on iTunes music due to consumer demand. Let’s make sure that everybody buying an iPad is fully aware that they’re buying into a locked-down, digitally-restricted platform, and put pressure on Apple to re-launch the iPad as a general-purpose computing device!

  1. Andrew Hickey
    January 29, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Absolutely agreed. Everything else about it is just silly, but this kind of thing is *dangerous*. To make something that has the capability of doing *anything* with information (as all general purpose computers do) and then *deliberately and consciously* restrict what its users can do to a tiny subset of the otherwise effectively infinite possibilities, comes very close to being actually *evil* in my view. There is absolutely no reason that the iPad couldn’t be issued – exactly the same in all respects – but with an extra ‘push this at your own risk’ button that turns off the restrictions.

  1. January 30, 2010 at 2:31 pm
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