Feeds

Stallman backpedals on Mac OS backdoor claims

Free software advocate still no fan of DRM

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Free software activist Richard Stallman has withdrawn an accusation that Apple's Mac OS X contained a backdoor after admitting there was no evidence to substantiate his earlier claims.

Stallman has repeatedly levelled charges that Apple could forcibly impose software changes in Mac OS X. He now admits his opinion was influenced by unsubstantiated gripes against Apple's operating system and that there is "no evidence that Apple has installed software changes without the user's permission."

"We have no way to verify that there is no backdoor in Mac OS X that could install changes without permission, but that is no basis to claim there is one," Stallman writes in a post on his FSF blog on Monday. "I apologize for repeating a criticism of Mac OS which I cannot substantiate and must presume is false."

Even after ditching the backdoor claim, Stallman predictably remains a staunch critic of Apple's DRM (copyright technology) push.

"While Apple has not, it seems, imposed changes by force, it has a record of making users install harmful changes on pain of losing functionality, and misleading users about what these changes do."

For example, back in 2005, Apple insisted users needed to upgrade to iTunes 4.7 to use its music store. According to Stallman, Apple misled its users in describing this as a security upgrade. In reality, the change was designed to "change the iTunes system of Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) to make PyMusique stop working." PyMusique was a free software application that allowed GNU/Linux users to access the iTunes store.

This isn't an isolated example, according to Stallman, who accused Apple of sneaking a DRM into Quicktime last year that "stopped users from playing video files they themselves had made."

Stallman concludes that while he no longer believes Mac OS X has a backdoor, he doesn't regard it as all above board either. He is certainly not a candidate for an iBook, much less an iPhone. Stallman's privacy concerns are such that he avoids using mobiles in general.

"If Mac OS X does not have a backdoor to forcibly install changes, that does not make it ethical," Stallman concludes. "It has other malicious features, such as Digital Restrictions Management.

"What makes those malfeatures possible is that users can't remove them. Mac OS is proprietary software, so the users don't have control over it - rather, the developer has sole control over the program, and employs it as an instrument of control over the users. So I don't withdraw my condemnation of Mac OS. But I do withdraw the claim that it has a known backdoor." ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
One HUNDRED FAMOUS LADIES exposed NUDE online
Celebrity women victimised as Apple iCloud accounts reportedly popped
Rubbish WPS config sees WiFi router keys popped in seconds
Another day, another way in to your home router
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NZ Justice Minister scalped as hacker leaks emails
Grab your popcorn: Subterfuge and slur disrupts election run up
HP: NORKS' cyber spying efforts actually a credible cyberthreat
'Sophisticated' spies, DIY tech and a TROLL ARMY – report
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?