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Why Apple and Microsoft Operating Systems Are Unethical: New Examples

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Summary: How proprietary software disables freedom and discourages solidarity, based on the actions of Apple and Microsoft

LAST WEEK we highlighted a case where Apple was censoring applications based on their content and this week Apple is still receiving flak for blocking any application not written/developed with tools that Apple does endorse (because they're Apple's). "Steve Jobs bans all apps from iPhone (or thereabouts)," says this headline from The Register:



You could argue that the new Jobsian SDK bars developers from writing any application for the iPhone - unless they possess some sort of savant-like ability to think solely in Objective C.

The much-discussed software development kit for the upcoming iPhone OS 4.0 says that native applications must be "originally written" in Objective C, C, or C++, forbidding developers from using any sort of "translation or compatibility layer." If you take this legalese to its logical extreme, it rules out just about anything you can think of.


With or without these compatibility layers, Apple has security problems, so the only apparent justification Apple may have here is one of control. Adobe will receive none and the same goes for Novell and Microsoft, whose MonoTouch toolset is being blocked [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] (and yet, Miguel de Icaza and his team continue to 'help' Apple with Microsoft APIs).

We regularly stress that Free software is about one's freedom, independence, and control. It's not about price, although price is also a selling point, especially in particular areas of the world. Proprietary software, which Apple and Microsoft are championing, is the very opposite of all that. GNU/Linux or BSD cannot be assessed at the same level as OS X and Windows on a purely technical basis as that would be comparing apples and oranges or comparing commercials for a toothpaste to an advisory from Greenpeace.

“Brazil used unauthorized copies of software as an excuse in the 90s to arrest activists of the landless rural workers' movement. [...] To protect themselves, they moved to GNU/Linux. Everyone else should do that too.”
      --Richard Stallman
On we move to Microsoft. Last week we wrote about Microsoft agents (whom Microsoft used to work with) shutting down free speech in Kyrgyzstan [1, 2]. Carlo from TechDirt wrote about it, but he hadn't gotten the update about Microsoft actually being indirectly involved. Richard Stallman wrote about this too, under the heading "Microsoft lends helping hand to global authoritarianism"; he explains that "Police in Kyrgyzstan used "unauthorized copies of software" as an excuse to shut down a TV station which was broadcasting news about protestors.

"I was disappointed that the article uses the propaganda terms "pirated" and "Intellectual Property". The latter term is so misleading that even quoting a name in which it appears spreads confusion if you don't deconstruct the term. See here for more information.

"Also, to say that "software piracy" is a "legitimate problem" whitewashes the real problem: proprietary software which forbid redistribution.

"Brazil used unauthorized copies of software as an excuse in the 90s to arrest activists of the landless rural workers' movement. In that case, the copies really were unauthorized, but that didn't alter the effect. To protect themselves, they moved to GNU/Linux. Everyone else should do that too."

As we explained last week, the same thing happened to brave journalists in Russia. Proprietary software limits people's expression and creativity. Nobody deserves this type of treatment. It is often being said the people come to realise what "freedom" really means only when they lose it; otherwise it's taken for granted.

"'Free software' is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of 'free' as in 'free speech,' not as in 'free beer'."

--Richard Stallman

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