Mozilla backs move to decriminalize iPhone jailbreaking

Firefox unwelcome on the iPhone, says CEO, who says 'choice shouldn't be criminalized'

Mozilla is backing a move that would nullify copyright infringement charges against people who "jailbreak" their iPhones, a practice that Apple considers against the law.

In comments submitted to the US Copyright Office, the maker of Firefox said it supports the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in its request for an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The EFF wants the Copyright Office to let users jailbreak their phones without fear of copyright infringement penalties.

Apple opposes the exemption , and in its own filing with the Copyright Office, has said that jailbreaking is a violation of copyright laws that protect its software.

"This is not us criticizing Apple," John Lilly, Mozilla's CEO, said in an interview Monday. "But it's the principle of the thing. Choice is good for users, and choice shouldn't be criminalized. The Internet is too important for all of us for that."

"Jailbreak" is the term used to describe circumventing the digital rights management (DRM) technology on a cell phone so that the user can install third-party applications not authorized by the phone's maker or the mobile carrier. The term was popularized by iPhone owners after several groups of programmers figured out how to hack the first-generation iPhone's operating system.

Although it never mentioned the iPhone by name in its comments, Mozilla made no bones about the danger it sees if a company like Apple is the sole gatekeeper of a smartphone. "By controlling the software that can be installed on these cellular phones, these companies can limit and control the type of programs and functionality that is available to users of their devices," Mozilla's general counsel, Harvey Anderson, wrote in the comments submitted to the Copyright Office (download PDF) .

Anderson said that the DRM technology used to prevent people from installing software has a "chilling effect on users and innovation" because they are afraid that jailbreaking their phones is illegal.

He went on to argue that smartphones are akin to a computer, and because they can be used to access the Internet, should not be limited to the software authorized by the handset maker and/or the mobile service provider. "These devices contain Internet Web browser, and are therefore effectively users' doorway to the Internet -- a public commons," Anderson said. "Consumers should be entitled to use any software program they choose to access the Internet."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags iPhonemozilla

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

Bitdefender solutions stop attacks before they even begin! Get cybersecurity that 500 MILLION users already have and trust.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?