Famed Hacker Says “Apple Has the Tightest Digital Handcuffs in History”


Richard Stallman, one of the leading influencers of the free software movement and greatest hackers of all time, (and the inventor of the first “copyleft license”), sat down with New Internationalist Magazine (via iSpazio) to talk about Apple, Microsoft and free software.

iOS 6

From the perspective of a free-software prophet, Microsoft and Apple have grown very powerful. The problem with non-free programs, Stallman says, is that they have malicious features.

He identified three kinds of malicious features: “those that spy on the user; those that restrict the user; and back doors”. Stallman says Microsoft has all three, as it can install software changes without even asking for the user’s permission.

Despite its recent policy changes, which gave users the freedom to control their privacy and data on their mobile phones, Stallman says: “Apple certainly has the digital handcuffs that are the tightest in history.”

While Stallman refers to Microsoft and Apple only, we should also mention how Android has been performing lately. You may recall that recent security reports have highlighted a spike in Android malware, despite Google’s best efforts. Apple on the other hand, has just hired a renowned hacker, a former Microsoft security expert. Yet, while the company’s closed ecosystem can prevent others from spying on you, it doesn’t exclude the possibility of Apple itself obtaining information about your device. That’s all in the pack of iOS, which offers a great user experience.

What do you think? Do Apple’s moves to close the ecosystem have benefits for you as a user?

You can read to full interview here


  • K3

    Always thought Apple had been a closed ecosystem but yes the benefit of knowing theres a little more privacy is good. Would help to have an actual firewall / anti virus app.

  • Farids

    I made the informed choice of iOS selection over Android and Windows phone because of the closed ecosystem. Even though a lot of people may look at iOS as restrictive and a limiting OS, I can live with not being able to change the look of my springboard, or the inconvenience of pressing a few more buttons, or installing a third party app to do something iOS can’t natively. To me, security and data privacy are more important as I use the phone as a business tool and not a gaming device, fashion statement or to brag what advanced and powerful device I own. iOS devices, in my opinion, are the perfect BALANCE of beautiful design, large app source, innovation, power, practical and friendly user interface, and most important, security, which is much more than I can say about any other mobile OS, or phone brands which may excel over iOS in one or two aspects, but not all. For that, I have and will stick to iOS.