Wired Magazine editors decide that Apple is right - allowing uncurated Android apps is "security compromise"

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Wired Magazine editors decide that Apple is right - allowing uncurated Android apps is "security compromise"

Post  Ap0c on Sun Mar 27, 2011 1:45 am

Wired magazine has finally decided to drop all pretense of impartiality by declaring it's support for Apple's long stated criticism of Android - that allowing users to choose to install applications from outside the official, curated app store is a "security compromise". Wired chose to prominently feature an article critical of the new Amazon App store for Android because using the store required users to change their phone's settings to allow the installation of apps from "unknown sources". The Wired article was titled "Amazon App Store Requires Security Compromise", with a subtitle declaring "Design Flaw". Although the inflammatory title alone make the author's perspective pretty clear, the article also contains a picture of an Android phone with the laughable byline "Android phones, like this Motorola Defy, can install apps from sources other than Google's official Android Market. But doing so poses security risks." Wired writer Brian X. Chen, well known for covering Apple products, pens a full-out assault on a user's choice to make this phone setting change, which Amazon App Store requires in order to function, finding citations from multiple "security experts" who all basically say that downloading apps that are viruses could, you know, cause viruses to be downloaded. Like in Windows. Which everybody has. He is supported in the article's comments section by senior editor Dylan Tweney, who characterizes changing the phone's settings to allow unrestricted installs to be a "security risk" and a "real problem". The point seems to be 1) people are too stupid to use computers 2) they need to be helped by good corporate parents like Apple to avoid bad programs and 3) Android is "irresponsible" for allowing people to install whatever they want.

A fair and balanced review would look at the real issues before blathering the fear, uncertainty and doubt that Chen, Tweney, and Wired set out. A less biased article would use the opportunity to open a discussion of the following serious questions - 1) Is allowing the same freedoms for mobile phone computers any more or less dangerous than allowing those same freedoms for stationary computers running Windows? 2) Are the risks of downloading a virus or malicious app any greater than with a stationary computer? 3) Do those increased risks justify denying user freedoms, such as the ability to install user-created apps, open-source apps, politically sensitive apps, and other apps that may be restricted by commercially-censored app stores? 4) Should the requirement that only software from commercially-censored app stores be installed be extended to stationary computers to restrict malware infestation, botnets, keyloggers, and other threats? 5) Is the rise of commercially-censored app stores and the tremendous profit that these have brought Apple, Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, etc. likely to restrict or change the rights an individual has to use their own computing devices, be they mobile phone computers or stationary computers?

This is the debate that needs to happen (clearly, from my word choices, you can see where I stand) but the points are still valid. Wired may have drunk the Apple cool-aid regarding the spooky "risks" of allowing users unrestricted application installs, but perhaps a debate can still be raised. Freedom advocates unite! This is how freedom is lost, not through large steps, but the gradual chipping away of mindshare until something as fundamental as the right to install the programs you want to is actually considered "dangerous" and "risky" and that right must be restricted for our "safety". Beware ANYONE claiming that your rights must be restricted for your own good - this is almost ALWAYS an attempt at rights-removal.

Support Android - they are even being attacked by their own carriers, as AT&T has modified Android software to prohibit any apps from non commercially-censored sources from being installed. I've found ways around it, and hopefully we can, but imagine a world where encrypted bootloaders, censored app stores, and Big Brother "curation" (the new word for non-free) is the norm. That's what will happen unless Wired is stopped. They are likely doing it to stay on the Apple gravy train, but motives aside, they are spreading Apple's gospel regarding "curation", so don't spare your wrath. They chose their side. Now let's choose ours.



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