updated 02:50 am EDT, Thu April 2, 2009
Apple forbids jailbreaking
Apple is taking a more aggressive stance against developers who create apps for "jailbroken" iPhones. According to a new report, the Cupertino-based company recently updated its "iPhone Developer Program License Agreement" - the agreement to which all iPhone developers are required to adhere -- to explicitly disallow jailbreaking, assisting in jailbreaking, and developing and distributing jailbreak apps. The Ars Technica report says that while previous agreements forbade the creation of apps that violate privacy, facilitate crimes, or violate intellectual property laws, the new one restricts developers from jailbreaking their own phones.
The new agreement also restricts developers from assisting others in "jailbreaking their phones, including (but not limited to) working on projects such as QuickPwn or PwnageTool." In response to an exemption filing by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Apple in February publicly defined its legal stance on iPhone jailbreaking, arguing that it represents copyright infringement and a DMCA violation. (The EFF proposal asked for an exemption that would allow jailbreaking of iPhones or other handsets, effectively liberating the devices to run applications other than those obtained from Apple's own iTunes App Store.)
In addition, the report says that developers are also "forbidden from using the iPhone OS, SDK, or other developer tools to develop applications for distribution in any way other than the App Store or Ad Hoc distribution." The new agreement puts significant restrictions on distribution, which is now only available via the App Store -- at Apple's sole discretion.
Some developers who have been frustrated for months by silence or lack of approval from Apple for App Store submission process have either discontinued development or begun distributing their applications on third-party or unofficial App Stores such as Cydia.
The report notes that updated portions of the (confidential) agreement specifically restrict jailbreaking or circumventing Apple's built-in iPhone OS security. While such agreements will not likely third-parties such as the iPhone Development Team who create the jailbreaking and unlocking apps, it will likely discourage developers from submitting their unapproved or rejected app on other distribution outlets that offer alternatives for customers interested in buying, testing, or installing with their software.
(e)You will not, through use of the Apple Software, services or otherwise, create any Application or other program that would disable, hack or otherwise interfere with the Security Solution, or any security, digital signing, digital rights management, verification or authentication mechanisms implemented in or by the iPhone operating system software, iPod touch operating system software, this Apple Software, any services or other Apple software or technology, or enable others to do so; and
(f) Applications developed using the Apple Software may only be distributed if selected by Apple (in its sole discretion) for distribution via the App Store or for limited distribution on Registered Devices (ad hoc distribution) as contemplated in this Agreement.
Last September, Apple extended its iPhone Developer NDA by restricting the information that developers could discuss publicly by telling developers in its App Store rejection letters that "the information contained in this message is under non-disclosure." While discussion of details in iPhone development is generally restricted, numerous developers have complained publicly about rejections without repercussion.