Apple’s new controversial anti-feature, named “protections for children,” opens a back door in your iPhone. The anti-feature is controversial not because it protects children, which is very needed and good practice, but because it chooses a wrong way to do so.
Apple has explained its privacy and security practices in its proposed back door but at the end of the day it’s a back door, and there’s no such thing as “only-good-guys back-door”.
Many people are angry about it and many are already campaigning to ask Apple reversing its decisions. A very known one, Apple Privacy Letter, is a campaign supported by EFF, Privacy Foundation, Freedom of the Press Foundation, and many others. They are asking people to sign the petition on GitHub and say “Apple’s proposal introduces a backdoor that threatens to undermine fundamental privacy protections for all users of Apple products.”
I don’t use Apple products. They’re proprietary and against computer user freedom. Instead, currently, I use a distribution of Android operating system named LineageOS. I’m not going to sign any campaign or beg Apple to respect my privacy. They violate people’s privacy in many ways, not only in this new back door.
When it comes to privacy, Apple is not a hero. It wasn’t long ago that Apple turned over iCloud data to Chinese government. Apple was not a privacy hero then, and is not a privacy hero now. They are very good at marketing and selling products, but they’re not, at all, a good actor in digital rights.
I agree, Apple’s privacy practices are much better than proprietary Android manufacturers, but that’s not enough. Respecting people is not giving them some privacy. As long as Apple is controlling everything and doesn’t give people full control over their devices, including software freedom and right to repair, they’re not a hero in anything but violating people’s rights and freedoms.
Many mobile operating systems and devices are not easy to use, I fully agree. GNU+Linux phones are not very suitable for daily use and Android devices may have some problems such as accessibility issues or bad user interfaces, but the real answer to this kind of controversies is not to beg Apple or anyone to respect us, but is to respect ourselves by running free software and privacy-respecting operating systems, and those are not made by Apple or any other proprietor.
You may say free software also has bugs and insecurities, free programs is not perfect. Yes, that is true. However, the difference between free and proprietary software in this respect is the handling of the bugs: free software users are able to study the program and/or fix the bugs they find, often in communities as they are able to share the program, while proprietary program users are forced to rely on the program’s developer for fixes.
If the developer does not care to fix the problem — often the case for embedded software and old releases — the users are sunk. But if the developer does send a corrected version, it may contain new malicious functionalities as well as bug fixes.
I urge you to answer to what Apple is going to do by installing and running a free operating system. Put yourself in control, and run software in which you can run freely, study, share, modify, and share your modifications. Free software empowers users and is the best answer for any situation, specially in ones like what we’re facing with Apple right now.