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 Good Gear Guide newsletter!

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

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?