Apple bans EFF RSS feed display-app from iPhone store


54 Responses to “Apple bans EFF RSS feed display-app from iPhone store”

  1. HeruRaHa says:

    This is such a perfect example of why I hate Apple… yes, yes, they make great products, and I can overlook the ridiculous fanboy mentality… but I don’t need my electronics to function as a nanny. I’m a grown-ass man, I will decide what information goes into my earholes and which does not, thankyouverymuch…

    The Google G1 is clunky, but man does it kick the ass of the iPhone on so many levels… and while my Gateway laptop lumbered like a brontosaurus until Windows Vista, a quick install of Ubuntu gets the machine working at full potential… why should I pay twice as much for a sleek, one-size-fits-all, overhyped Apple product?

  2. Joe MommaSan says:

    Apparently it objects to an EFF blog post that linked to Brad Templeton’s Downfall remix (also mentioned on Boing Boing last week, BTW). The parody includes the fleeting appearance of the f-bomb in a subtitle.”

    Forgive me if this is an ignorant question – I’m not at all familiar with the iPhone – but isn’t this same material equally easy to access using the iPhone’s built-in web browser?

  3. mdh says:

    Why should I pay twice as much for a sleek, one-size-fits-all, overhyped Apple product?

    Ummmm, you shouldn’t?

    But you don’t need to hate Apple because nobody else is offering them sufficient competition in the “the fukkin thing just WORKS” category of gadgets.

    Because the fukkin thing just WORKS, and it does not waste my time.

  4. Rob says:


    “Certified Safe” would get Apple in more trouble. There’s no way to certify something as safe (it’s, in essence, the halting problem, changing the question from “will it stop” to “will it do something bad”). The first time a trojan got through, Apple would be sued.

  5. Anonymous says:


    I’ve reread all your comments here, but the last one floored me. OK, you like Apple, they have always had every application you could ever want, and set it up in a way you like.

    But a platform manufacturer dictating the software to be run on it because it might “look bad”? That’s saying you *can’t* paint the car, or put a cutout in the hood, because the manufacturer has decided it “looks bad” (your point)

    Like many others here, it seems sensible to warn about, but allow alternative AppStores for teh pornos etc. Then there would be much less objection. You could even make an extra hurdle to be able to shop offsite, to protect ‘children’.

    I actually think that Apple is moving in a good direction with having an AppStore at all. Ten years ago, the hoops one had to jump through for Macintosh software were much hotter, 20 years worse still.

    Question: Does viewing web-browser porn pics on your iPhone hurt Apple’s reputation?

  6. 1MacGeek says:

    BS flag thrown on the play…

    EFF penalized 15 yards for intentional misleading. Second down!

    If I may be so bold, what is to stop someone from simply subbing to the RSS feed through Safari? Now there is an inconvenient truth! I do this on my iPhone – an entire folder bookmark of just RSS feeds, and nobody to tell me what I can or can’t put on them!

    And I can’t believe nobody else is reveling in the irony of EFF complaining about Apple “locking down” their system, while the EFF is weeping, wailing, and gnashing their teeth about an app that locks you into reading only their RSS feed. If this were truly about freedom, wouldn’t the EFF just encourage everyone to sub via Safari?

    No, this smacks of someone having a 2,000 pound axe to grind. Maybe that someone at the EFF is the “uncool kid” with a Zune. ;-)

  7. Anonymous says:

    I find it wonderfully ironic that Apple’s iconic 1984 ad could be recast today with Steve Jobs as the evil giant head.

  8. BritSwedeGuy says:

    Vote with your cash and don’t buy Apple. An iPhone is just a little fascist in your pocket.

  9. GeekDadCanada says:

    New slogan for Microsoft: “Think for yourself.”

    My God people, how far does the Jobs empire have to go before the iCultists stop drinking the Koolaid?

  10. jm says:

    @36 Many apps are in practice more like hotkeys. Like I reach over and with a single tap pull up the local weather report. Basically web service wrappers.

  11. AirPillo says:

    If Apple is ham-fisted, at least they seem to be using that ham-fist to punch themselves in the genitals while screaming “HURRR!!!”

    The app store review process seems to exist only to keep their PR and legal departments busy.

  12. raskolnikov773 says:

    @ 12

    “but I really don’t grok why people would buy an iPhone knowing that Apple got to control how you use your phone.”

    maybe that is a concern today, but there are those of us who purchased iPhones well before this and the NIN controversy emerged.

  13. Anonymous says:

    The iPhone doesn’t stop you from looking at any content that its browser can read – which is most web pages. I think what’s happening here is that too many parents are buying iPhones for their kids and then freaking out at some the applications the kids are buying, so the application vettors are over-reacting and rejecting any app (other than Safari) that could conceivably be used to obtain not-safe-for-Sunday-school content for free. The iPhone is a great product, except for these two (big) issues with the app store vetting and the discouragement of jailbreaking.

  14. failix says:

    Is Microsoft really the only company out there who has gotten this right? Really?!?!

    You think they’ve gotten it right?…Really?!

    Now seriously, Apple and Microsoft aren’t really that different from each other. And if you think about it, the only software you can install literally on whatever device you want is open source software.

  15. kavalec says:

    I don’t own an iPhone; I don’t own a Mac.
    I am **very** happy with my G1.
    Haven’t been censored yet.

  16. Dewi Morgan says:

    On my Nokia 9500 (an old product, they have newer models in the Communicator line now), I run emulators for the ZXSpectrum, DOS, Sega Genesis, and GBA. I can install any software I want for these systems, or for the 9500.

    Apple doesn’t allow emulators on the iPhone, because then it couldn’t control the software.

    On my Nokia 9500, I have compilers/interpreters for Basic, OPL, ESHELL, and AutoType.

    Apple doesn’t allow programming languages on the iPhone, because then it couldn’t control the software.

    Apple wants to protect you from viruses because you are too stupid to protect yourself. Anyone can write or release code for the 9500. This is its danger, and its joy.

    And this is why I would never buy an iPhone.

  17. mdh says:

    How would it be if you couldn’t change the color of your car because the manufacturer said it you could not?

    Jailbreaking is more like tuning the exhaust and adding NitrOx, and THEN expecting Ford to honor the engine warranty.

    Apple will not stand by your amateur software efforts, as your efforts might break their product, or allow you to introduce a virus or other sneaky manouever, and thereby will make their product look worse to those who know no better – all of which will impact Apples sales far more than whining at them ever will….

  18. Todd Sieling says:

    I’m finally catching up with this story and on reading the EFF’s blog post I was fired up and ready to comment on Apple’s behavior.

    Then I saw that, wait for it, the EFF blog doesn’t allow for comments! Clearly they want to censor me and every other voice. It’s censorship, right? Because I can’t comment on their site using their blog. That means my rights have been taken away, so here I am at another site, of my choosing, where I can have my voice. So first, thanks to BB for allowing comments. When the totalitarian and anti-free-speech policies of the EFF are subverted someday by freedom-loving peoples everywhere, we’ll all live in a better world.

  19. Anonymous says:

    There’s always the G1…just like the iphone cept better. :)

  20. agger says:

    “Jailbreaking is more like tuning the exhaust and adding NitrOx, and THEN expecting Ford to honor the engine warranty. ”

    Not true. One thing is for Apple to say that jailbreaking voids the warranty, quite another to say it’s *illegal*. That’s a huge difference. If you take apart your new laptop to see how it works, you’ll also void the warranty but the idea that it could be illegal is ridiculous. And jailbreaking is obviously much *less* intrusive.

  21. brianary says:

    The Apple Store is ban-tastic!

    I’m gonna go line up for a computer in which I must have permission from the manufacturer before running each program!

  22. Anonymous says:

    @11: “And you can get any color Model T you want, as long as it’s black.” is precisely the point. Ford sold them only in black. If you didn’t like black, you could paint it. How would it be if you couldn’t change the color of your car because the manufacturer said it you could not?

  23. Halloween Jack says:

    Hold on, hold the fuck on! There’s an app that displays content only from EFF’s RSS feed? What possible reason would someone want an RSS reader that will only display a feed from one source? Isn’t that like those single-book apps that the iTunes store is infested with? More to the point, why would someone develop such a thing?

    Well… maybe it’s because they’re sure to get a mention on one of the most popular blogs in the world if that app gets banned. Hmmm?

  24. theresamat says:

    I wanted to make a quick mention concerning Apple’s solution to their problem of choosing which applications to accept:

    At the iPhone OS 3 developer preview, they presented a bunch of new features, one of which allows for applications in the future to have ratings

    “Extended parental controls. Adult content filters can now be applied to movies, TV shows, and applications, in addition to web sites and music (porn apps, here we come).”
    A text overview of the presentation at

    so just something to look at…

  25. mdh says:

    It is also not their business if you stop complaining and buy a superior product from the competition.

    Or make one yourself.

  26. hhype says:

    I hate to ask because I don;t want to get pounded with an ignorant stick, but I do not own an iPhone. I want to echo #32′s comment and ask a question. Can’t you just point your phone’s browser at EFF’s website to see the updates? Why do you need an app for that? I also thought you can make a button on the home screen from a weblink.

    This is why I am so confused during the iPhone commercials on TV, I am not so impressed that “there’s an app for that” for everything under the sun, since it seems you need to buy an app to access stuff that it appears you could just find for free on the web. The last example I can think of is Fandango. Just go to the website, you don’t need an app. I don;t need one on my Treo.

    #32, by the way, I don’t think EFF needs to get BoingBoing’s attention with a banning by the Apple Store. I think they are already BFF’s.

  27. Stephen says:

    Including an angry denunciation of the Eucalyptus e-book reader rejection AFTER it has been reversed is weird.

    “This is precisely why EFF has asked the Copyright Office to grant an exemption to the DMCA for jailbreaking iPhones.” I don’t believe that for a second. If the EFF was serious about a principle, they would have requested a viable and generalized exemption for a class of situations that pertain to a particular issue. Instead they’re trying to make all jailbreaking of just the iPhone legal. As submitted, the requested exemption would be grossly anti-competitive if granted.

  28. Stephen says:

    Including an angry denunciation of the Eucalyptus e-book reader rejection AFTER it has been reversed is weird.

    “This is precisely why EFF has asked the Copyright Office to grant an exemption to the DMCA for jailbreaking iPhones.” I don’t believe that for a second. If the EFF was serious about a principle, they would have requested a viable and generalized exemption for a class of situations that pertain to a particular issue. Instead they’re trying to make all jailbreaking of just the iPhone legal. As submitted, the requested exemption would be grossly anti-competitive if granted.

  29. Frank W says:

    The pattern is pretty clear by now, isn’t it? If you care for freedom of speech at all, migrating to the iPhone is like migrating to China.

  30. arkizzle / Moderator says:


    I got your back, bro!

    *Tears Mod badge off chest*
    Pyew! Pyew! Pyew!

    Everyone should just calm down a bit on the hatefest. There are some fairly one-dimensional opinions being thrown around, and I know we can do better than that.

    (TL:DR warning! My feelings won’t be hurt if you all skip this)

    While there are perfectly legitimate things to like and dislike about Apple, they aren’t as black and white as people like to suggest. The app store definitely has a ludicrously inconsistent rejection policy, but it also has a myriad of excellent apps (and not so excellent, iFart et al, I’m looking at you).

    Since the original Microsoft world-takeover, Apple have always had a kind of underdog position. They’ve had to be twice as good just to stay relevant, and have fought for every step up they’ve achieved. Even getting peripherals for Mac was a nightmare for years. It really felt like “us and them” for a long time (like the Linux folks, today), because there was so little interest from the general-populace or peripheral makers. That’s where the Cult of Mac comes from, not this new hipster shit, it was a long haul, and we were on a team. Apple had to stand on it’s own two feet for twenty years, building its own everything, because no one else was interested.

    And in doing so, Apple has pushed new technology in a number of different areas, and taken on the incumbent kings. And now, it’s like everybody’s interested.

    I think Apple have just had a hard time as a company, and haven’t really adjusted to their success. I suppose that will be the making or breaking of them. If they can stop being the little kid who has to shout to be heard, and realize they are the fully grown adult who is hurting people’s ears.. they could be a winner.

    Over the years, they have bought some of their successes. They have tended to used them as a base to develop the new asset and integrate it into their ecosystem (OSX married to Apple hardware and software is a beautifully tight fit), like Logic Pro, Shake or iTunes.

    Each is a market leader in its field. Logic’s only competion is ProTools. Shake owns all. Even though it’s finished being officially supported, it is still used by most big studios out there, developed in-house. iTunes made a whole industry legitimate.

    With iTunes they had to please the labels, and made restrictions on they way people could use their purchases, but since then they’ve mostly bargained them away, and done away with DRM.

    And with their most recent move into the mobile phone sector; once again they were the underdog.

    They stepped into a market (that was otherwise sewn up by huge tech companies, and dictated to by the carriers cabal), and became one of the most important players – in just a couple of years. The iPhone/iPod touch was a game changer (for a number of industries), but it required tight policies on things like edge bandwidth-use, carrier lock-in and battery-life just to make it to market. Like with iTunes, they made sacrifices but got more in return, like convincing AT&T to make some significant changes in their network, for more functional service.

    IMPORTANT: I don’t write all this as an excuse for the things you don’t like about Apple. You are going to continue to hate those things, as am I probably. There are things about Apple that really let me down, but I understand some of the reasons.

    That said, I can’t tell you how sick I am of my choices, as a professional and a consumer, being reduced to either “ohh, shiny shiny” or “look-at-me hipster.” It’s just such a weak cop out, like me hating everything Microsoft does just because they are Microsoft.

    That shit is over, Apple will probably always have a similar OS market-share than they have now, but it doesn’t really matter. 1) 5% of an awful lot of money, is still an awful lot of money, and 2) they’ve diversified into other markets, so don’t need to feel threatened by Microsoft any more.

    /Sorry, I got rambling..

  31. Cory Doctorow says:

    @1: So, the market corrects itself if bad actions by companies are kept silent, then?

    @2: EFF is seeking a renewal of an existing exemption for jailbreaking all phones (why do you think this only pertains to iPhones); as to why you should be angry about a bad decision after it’s reversed — do you think that the best way to work out what gets to run on your pocket computer is to submit it to the Apple store, get it rejected, hope for a global outraged response and a reversal? It’s not as though this is the first time Apple has banned something “objectionable” that isn’t — and they certainly haven’t always reversed themselves.

    This is the exemption that EFF is seeking to renew:

    Renewal of the 2006 exemption for unlocking cell phones so that the handsets can be used with any telecommunications carrier. Several carriers have threatened cell phone unlockers with legal action under the DMCA, even though there is no copyright infringement involved in the unlocking. The digital locks on cell phones, however, make it harder to resell, reuse, or recycle the handset.

  32. Sam says:

    @stephen: You’re probably right, but the more pressure put on Apple to open up their platform just a little bit the better.

    This is a serious question: At what point should a manufacturer have the right to tell you you can’t put your arbitrary apps on their platform?

    Should they be allowed to call it an operating system if anybody can’t distribute apps for it?

    I don’t think Apple can last forever with this model. Someone else will eventually make a reasonable competitor and developers will go to it because they won’t have to deal with Apple’s BS. I thought it would be the Pre, but although they claimed they would embrace open development, they’re doing the app-store *only* thing as well.

    Is Microsoft really the only company out there who has gotten this right? Really?!?!

  33. mdh says:

    I think some people are missing the point.

    IF it runs software gotten from anywhere other than the iTunes store, and that software sucks, then it dilutes the reputation of the product.

    That’s not your rep to run down, which is good, because the degree of whining in this thread is astonishingly transparent.

    Had you invented it, you’d get to make that call.

    You didn’t. Steve’s elves did.

    So you can go improve on it, and then call it whatever you want.

    I keep calling the iPhone a Model T for a reason. It’s early days for the technology.

  34. mdh says:

    agger, it’s a lot to ask, but try taking my comments in their totality, not a line at a time.

    Arkizzle –

    1) gratz on the badge. [non-snarky golf clap].

    2) EXACTLY!!!!!!

  35. Cory Doctorow says:

    @6: Actually, the question is what point a mfgr should be allowed to get a law passed to prohibit loading your software on hardware they make?

  36. Stephen says:

    I thought it was just the iPhone because that is how EFF describes it, and because the word iPhone appears in the majority of the paragraphs in the submission.

    However, Cory is correct that it is actually addressing the more general case:

  37. nosehat says:

    Any company that’s *just* in the hardware business should be happy to allow users to load alternative software onto their product. Every alternative software that is developed only increases their customer base.

    The problem arises when hardware is sold by companies that have no interest in the hardware sales per se, but are rather motivated by the sales of content or services. (Free cell phones from cell service companies are a great example of this.)

    Seems to me the customer would ultimately benefit if hardware, content, and connectivity service were all handled by unrelated companies. Now *that* would be some very fantastic anti-monopolistic legislation!

  38. Anonymous says:

    @16 Rindan


    It’s the lure of the shiny that sucks people into Apple.

    They make some good products and have some great ideas, but then they blow it with the high prices and totalitarian control fetish.

  39. arkizzle / Moderator says:

    Muchas gracias, mi amigo.

  40. El Mariachi says:

    “Totalitarian control freaks?” Seems someone’s lacking perspective. Don’t like the terms? DON’T BUY THE FUCKING DEVICE. It’s really just that simple. Apple doesn’t have any say in how you run your business or how you read your Sanskrit ur-porn or anything else. Vote with your dollars. All else is sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    Which goes treble for pseudonymous blog comments.

  41. mdh says:

    Cory @5, not quite where I was headed.

    You have anti-fans here, people who regularly stop by to pick on your success, at your own blog, and who then cry ‘free speech infringement’ when they are ‘unpublished’ for being douchey to you.

    I see corollaries in this EFF/Apple kerfluffle.

  42. mdh says:

    Which is to say, your detractors can get their own blog.

    And you can get any color Model T you want, as long as it’s black.

  43. Anonymous says:

    The point isn’t about ‘jailbreaking’ being a warranty issue, it about asserting legal control over a product you paid for in full. Consumers are full fine about voiding a warranty for a product they have diddled with – it’s just wrong for Apple to get all Gitmo about making the toy do useful things just because Apple isn;t getting additional revenue, or because it hurts Apple’s feelings.

  44. raskolnikov773 says:


    generally the apps are streamlined and load/work faster/easier than it takes to load/navigate a webisite.

  45. Patti says:

    Two things boggle my mind. The first is that Apple really thinks it should be able to decide what programs you can run on your computing platform. The second, and more interesting one, is that anyone would be willing to purchase a computing device whose manufacturer got to decide what programs were acceptable.

    I can understand why one might worry about malware, and I’d be in favor of a “certified safe” seal that one could put on one’s applications, but I really don’t grok why people would buy an iPhone knowing that Apple got to control how you use your phone.

    Doesn’t anyone remember the famous 1984 Big Brother commercial, with Apple talking about information purification directives, with Apple helping us break free? “And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984″. Perhaps that’s true, but as far as Apple is concerned 2009 is very much like 1984. It is a truly delicious irony.

    (And no, I’m not an Apple hater. In fact, I’m a stockholder.)

  46. Cory Doctorow says:

    @10: The parallel is incorrect. When unproductive comments are deleted here with the message, “If you don’t like it, comment on your own blog,” this is like Apple saying, “If you don’t like our app store, download your own apps from somewhere else.”

    But, of course, that’s not what Apple’s saying; their message is, “If you don’t like it, lump it — and please, Mr Regulator, allow us to sue people who choose to install their own code on their own devices.”

    If BB’s policy were parallel to Apple’s, we’d be lobbying the copyright office for the right to shut down blogs that say things we don’t like.

    Instead, we use CC licenses that allow critics to do far more than fair use would allow (and even provide machine-parsable versions of the blog to make that simpler) — the parallel would be if Apple’s position were, “If you don’t like our app store, here’s an entire framework for hosting your own, along with all the docs and support you need to do so.”

    I don’t think you’d see a lot of complaints if that were Apple’s position.

  47. mdh says:

    @ Cory

    corollary, not parallel. They’re not the same.

    Pedantic semantics aside, I’m not pyched to learn Apple wants to do anything more than void the warranty of jailbreakers.

    And I was serious about becoming the competition, if ever there were a group of maker and tech-connected people, BB would be them.

    pleasure speaking with you.

  48. Anonymous says:

    Speaking as an Apple customer (presently 2 iPod touches, 3 mac minis, a Mac pro, and a Macbook pro, as well as Aperture and a whole slew of iPod Touch apps), I think the present closed application model for the iPhone/iPod is despicable.

    I don’t object to Apple deciding what apps they want in their store except in the context of objecting to them deciding they will be the *only* store.

    I don’t accept anyone the legitimacy of anyone playing “mommie” for me. Not Apple; not the government; not my neighbor or my community.

    As for the points about being able to use a web browser for RSS feeds, yes, that’s true as far as it goes; however, the hardware underneath the iPhone/iTouch is very powerful, and not only can it do many things more effectively by itself than it can online, it can also do them without being online at all. Which in turn (a) makes more efficient use of batteries and (b) makes the hardware useful in any space that doesn’t provide connectivity (aircraft, subway, car, rural areas, out on the water, etc.)

    The situation here is comparable to them saying with regard to OSX, “You can only run applications you buy from us.”, which would (hopefully) kill them dead because it’s so stupid.

    In the case of the iPhone/iPod, they followed Palm down the road of applications that were specialized for their handhelds; unlike Palm (at least originally), they insist that all apps must be funneled through them. That’s the real worm in the Apple. If you want to bitch about it, by all means do, but don’t get distracted like that clown up top who says (paraphrased) that all Apple offers is shine and prestige; aside from being entirely wrong, that just marks you as someone who hasn’t used OSX and/or the iPod/iTouch (and is flaunting your ignorance.) These are truly great products. Nothing you can say will change that.

    Apple should be discouraged as acting as the single arbiter of what we can run on the hardware we’ve purchased. If they accept that position, they can accomplish that goal two ways.

    One, they can cease putting censorship in line with the purchase process, or two, they can allow other app stores to exist.

    I’d prefer the second, frankly, as I think it would lead to a far more healthy application space; but I can see Apple being unwilling to let go of the income. My worry is that I can’t see them being willing to host/sell applications that the pinched-lips crew there disapprove of.

    Considering the options, it seems that it’ll probably take a court action to settle this; so I, for one, am rooting for the EFF.

  49. El Mariachi says:

    While Apple has been pretty dunderheaded on this, I think the reason for the relative lack of App Store backlash among the general public is that the typical iPhone customer cares more about all the things the device does let you do than what the App Store doesn’t. There’s nothing stopping anyone from firing up the browser and reading the Kama Sutra or the EFF’s RSS feed with that, so the App Store’s rejections and Apple’s stance against jailbreaking don’t restrict Joe User from doing 98% of the things he really wants to do.

    I’d wager that almost all iPhone buyers were upgrading from less-capable and/or clunkier devices, so they’re seeing a lot more functional positives than relatively minor “can’t change the wallpaper behind the icons” negatives.

    (All of this is not intended as excuse, but as explanation.)

  50. Stephen says:

    If this where as obvious and simple as some of the Apple haters are saying, you should be equally hating on Android.

    There are strong pressures for a closed system on phones because we expect reliable dial tone but accept some unreliability on computers.

    Ideally we would get rid of the DMCA entirely and then Apple could sell a closed phone which hackers would be free to open. That would achieve both objectives.

  51. Rindan says:

    Folks, Apple is and always has been a shitty, closed, squeeze your customer by the balls company. Yes, their marketing is excellent and you can feel ultra hip owning their shinny white plastic, but the truth is that Apple is and always has been horrible. The only thing that separates Apple from MS is that they are more controlling and (most importantly) have dramatically less market share.

    Do yourself a favor and combat Apple’s attempt to lock down your information stream into a nice sterile corporate shinny white plastic dribble the most effective way possible… don’t buy their products. There are drastically better MP3 players, better (and cheaper) computers, vastly better online music stores, and yes, even better phones. Granted, you will no longer have Apple Goliath marketing machine working for you, it will be okay. I bet you can find a way to be “different” and “special” without buying one of the most heavily marketed consumer products in existence.

  52. agger says:

    I’d suggest that people who care about their freedom to install whatever they want on their devices don’t buy Apple’s products. You can get an openMoko and download any number of eBook readers, or write your own.

    I’ll buy an iPhone the day it comes with an SDK under the GPL (or similar).

  53. mdh says:

    Dewi @ 29,

    IMHO, spot on except one line “Apple wants to protect you from viruses because you are too stupid to protect yourself.”

    The truth is haxxorz iz too dumb to write a virus for Apple. And I know it, and I rely on it, and in 18 years online I have not spent one dime or one minute of my time fighting computer virus’.

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