Have you ever been confused by a tech nerd who brags about jail breaking an iPhone? What is he talking about? Did he bust his iPhone out of prison? Are they lovers on the lamb? iPhones can get pricey, but they’re everywhere. They aren’t worth going to jail over, right?…right? Don’t worry, no ones going to prison for jailbreaking an iPhone. To say one is jailbreaking an iPhone doesn’t mean you’re stealing anything, rather it means you are liberating the operating system (iOS) from the rules and restrictions placed upon the device by Apple. This is done by circumventing the security protocols installed on the device. Although discussions on jailbreaking tend to revolve around iPhones, they can apply to any Apple device running on iOS. In addition, to what is generally though of as security, these devices employe Digital Rights Management (DRM) software. The explicit function of this software is to limit the kinds of applications you can run. When a device gets the jailbreak treatment, it now has access to formerly restricted or unauthorized content.
Why would Apple restrictions on the device in the first place? Historically, the Apple brand has not played well with others. It is only in recent years that Apple computers have become, for lack of a better word, friendly with Microsoft and Windows products. Apple wants its user to live and breath Apple and live in the soft, white, minimalist glow of Apple’s embrace as Siri whispers sweet nothings in your ear. This includes ensuring you buy your music through iTunes store, that you purchase apps through the app store. This is how Apple makes money.
When you jailbreak an iOS, you’re suddenly privy to goodies Apple doesn’t want you to have. Some people use liberated iPhones to score free apps. In other words, they steal or pirate apps from the iTunes or the app store. Ethically, this is shady–okay, it’s just wrong. Not only do you steal money from Apple (which some people are okay with) but you’re also stealing from artists and independent developers who toiled long and hard to get their applications published.
Others jailbreak their devices not because they have any desire to steal from anyone, rather they don’t believe Apple has the right to censor content. There are third part application stores out there–like Cydia–and some folks think they have the right to chose for themselves whether or not they download those applications. In addition, there is an issue of intellectual sovereignty tied to the censorship problem (as it often is). If Apple disagrees is with the content of an app, they don’t have to publish it. In other words, if an application espouses a particular political position, Apple can ban it from the store. If the app is deemed obscene, a very murky realm, again, Apple doesn’t have to publish it. However, since there is no other authorized application store, so to speak, users are unable to judge the value of the application for themselves. Apple’s position is unauthorized apps compromise device security, but there is little, if any, proof of this.
If you’re interested in jailbreaking your phone, be warned, it will void your Apple warranty. This may not be worth the freedom of choosing your own phone carrier or deciding what apps you really, really want on your iPhone. iPhone jailbreaks become harder and harder with each new iteration of the iOS platform. As the company works to increase security measures and protect owners from theft, jailbreaking becomes a bigger and bigger issue. Since jailbreaking requires the circumvention of security protocols, jailbreaking software has the potential to embarrass the company. In this instance, if you’re interested in jailbreaking finding a way to downgrade to an older, archaic version of the iOS platform is far preferable to upgrading to iO7, which currently cannot be liberated.
Written By David Arroyo