On Friday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation released an Android app designed to alert users about new digital-rights campaigns, such as this one against NSA surveillance. iPhone users, however, are out of luck; the EFF refused to release an iOS version of the same app, explaining that it found Apple’s developer-agreement terms “outrageous.”
Among other things, the EFF objects to Apple’s complete control over the availability of apps; they can only be distributed through the company’s app store, and Apple can remotely disable apps on a whim should it choose to. The EFF is also not a fan of Apple’s attempts to prevent developer from talking about the agreement itself.
Corynne McSherry is the intellectual property director at EFF and has worked there since 2006. She specializes in issues dealing with copyright, trademark, and free speech issues, and penned the post by EFF explaining its problems with the Apple terms. While neither Apple’s developer agreement nor EFF’s problems with it are new, McSherry said the issue seemed newly relevant given the organization’s release of the Android app.
“We felt like we owed folks an explanation,” she said. According to McSherry, Apple hasn’t budged on the agreement.
“Suffice to say Apple is well-aware of our concerns,” she said. “Apple has made a choice that they don’t want to change that agreement. I think they’re going to change it if they hear from enough people, not just EFF but also developers.”
While the EFF feels the Google developer agreement for Android apps isn’t perfect, it doesn’t make the same “onerous” demands that Apple does. McSherry said that EFF understands many people and developers feel they need to agree to the terms for business reasons, and that the organization doesn’t mean to imply anything negative about anyone that does agree to them. Still, EFF felt it needed to “walk the walk” as far as its espoused beliefs.
“We were not going to put our imprimatur on that agreement,” she said. The EFF currently has a petition asking Apple to make changes.
Apple did not respond to request for comment.
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