This is a hotly contended issue. I am of the side that says that if you legally own a gadget, widget, or whatever, you should have control over it. If I decide that I am fed up with my iPad I should be able to convert it into a vibrating back massager. Sure, it would void the warranty, but lets face it, after a year almost everything is out of warranty. It is ‘old junk’.

Go to the store and buy a Phone, TV, or Computer, by the time you get it home it is obsolete! There is little doubt in my mind is that even worse than this group of felons are the people that make printers. When the printer runs out of ink, don’t even try to buy new ink, just buy a new printer! It likely will be cheaper!

 I am a great supporter of the doctrine of ‘if I bought it, I can do whatever I want to with it’. This alas seems to be an idea that the various industries seem to disagree over. I ranted recently on this subject. Much effort is being put into restricting what people can and cannot do with something they legally own. Most of this is explained by the tech companies as being measures for our own protection. By restricting our rights and options they are protecting our investment.

I am not sure that I buy into this ‘smoke and mirrors’ view. The word Monopoly keeps springing into my mind. Apple wants to rule the world with iThings, and are doing quite a decent job. The nasty Wintel union seek to maintain their stranglehold with Secure Boot, Amazon are striving to rule the eBook world with Kindle, and the entertainment groups such as the MPAA and RIAA would much prefer that they could make it so that every time we watched a movie or listened to a music track they could extract yet more money out of our pockets.

Without doubt the most well known battle is the one being waged in the Cell Phone world. It is of no greater importance than the other battles, but it has received far more coverage in the press.  

One of my many associates is Robert Siciliano, he is very active in the world of preventing Identity Theft, and one of the best ways to avoid problems is to pay attention to security, strong passwords, not sharing personal information with people you do not know, etc, etc.

I was somewhat surprised however by a short treatise that he published on the McAfee computer security site. It concerns Jail breaking cell phones. It is well worth reading (link is here).

I am not sure that I am in agreement on this subject, but he does make a logical argument. By ‘tinkering’ with a device and changing its intended purpose you may open the door to unintended consequences. But this argument only works to an extent. I can certainly buy into the idea that should I tinker I will void the warranty. That makes perfect sense. However, hardware and software companies acting in tandem to not just ‘void the warranty’ but permanently disable a device ‘bricking’ bothers me a great deal.

But taking ‘bricking’ off the table and just talking from a security perspective Robert points out:

 By hacking your device, you can potentially open security holes that may have not been readily apparent, or undermine the device’s built-in security measures. Jailbroken and rooted phones are much more susceptible to viruses and malware because users can avoid Apple and Google application vetting processes that help ensure users download virus-free apps.

 Boy this sounds a lot like the Wintel ‘Secure Boot’ rubbish! If Wintel could have come up with ‘Secure Boot’ 15 years ago, they could have killed Linux, squished it like a toad under the tire of a Mac truck. Lets face it, Wintel and iThings may rule the end user device, but it is Linux that does the heavy lifting at the server level.

Locking Hardware, Software, and Common Carriers together does nothing to promote innovation.

 Simon Barrett



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