If you own a phone or a tablet, you should be able to run whatever software you want on it. It seems like a simple truth, but there are a surprising number of hurdles in the way. Most pressingly, if the manufacturer of that phone or tablet wants to, they can misuse the law to limit your control over the device long after your purchase. This week, EFF has filed a petition with the Librarian of Congress and the Copyright Office to extend and expand the exemption that allows you to "jailbreak" your phone from those restrictions, without running afoul of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
That's important because jailbreaking (or "rooting," on Android devices) has real-world implications for users' ability to use their phones and tablets effectively and securely. It may be a necessary step before installing security updates after a device has stopped being supported by the manufacturer. In other cases, it may help users install accessibility software that allows them to use a device despite disabilities.
Every month, TorrentFreak reports on absolutely ridiculous takedown notices issued by copyright holders to Internet service providers related to allegedly infringing content, using the process created by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This month, TorrentFreak tore apart a series of takedown notices sent to Google by the German-based Total Wipes Music Group targeting, among other things, an EFF webpage describing how to use PGP for Mac OS X—a webpage within our Surveillance Self-Defense guide.
Indeed, the notice that cites the EFF webpage as an “allegedly infringing URL” purports to protect an album called “Cigarettes” on Spanish music label Mona Records. But not one of the seven allegedly infringing URLs listed in the notice even refers to the album, let alone in an infringing way. Another notice issued by Total Wipes to Google two days earlier purports to target pirates of the album “In To The Wild – Vol.7″ on music label Aborigeno Music. Again, not one of the 95 allegedly infringing URLs had anything to do with music, as TorrentFreak reported. The notice instead listed generic download pages for some of the world’s most popular online services, including Skype, Tor, Dropbox, LibreOffice, Python, and WhatsApp.