Is the iPad 'iBad for freedom'?

Defective by Design slams iPad DRM

Defective by has slammed the iPad just hours after its release, saying its "iBad for freedom".

In an online petition and an open letter to Steve Jobs, the open source organisation says: "The iPad's unprecedented use of DRM to control all capabilities of a general purpose computer is a dangerous step backward for computing and for media distribution. We demand that Apple remove all DRM from its devices."

Defective by is a campaign of the Free Software Foundation. GNU founder Richard Stallman is its president.

The website says the iPad uses what it call "Digital Restrictions Management" in two ways. First, all media in the iTunes store (with the exception of music) is wrapped in Apple's DRM.

"That means films, TV shows, movies and audiobooks are locked to Apple's platform, taking away your right to share."

Second, it says, all applications must be signed by Apple if they are to run. This constitutes an "unprecedented level of control for a general purpose computer".

"On top of this, Apple can push updates to the device over its wireless connection, letting them add or remove capabilities at any time."

As a result, every publisher depends on permission from Apple, and Apple can remotely delete stories after they have been published, it says.

The DRM will give Apple and their partners the ability to "disable features, block competing products (especially free software) censor news, and even delete books, videos, or news stories from users' computers without notice -- using the device's 'always on' network connection", the organisation says.

The group says while Apple says it will not abuse this power, "their record of App Store rejections and removals gives us no reason to trust them".

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Computerworld Staff

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