In a response filed with the U.S. Copyright Office, Apple claims jailbreaking, or unlocking, its iPhone smartphone could lead to potential cyber-attacks, cell tower manipulation, increased drug deals and the end of the world in general.
Apple has ratcheted up the rhetoric over the issue of jailbreaking, or
unlocking, its popular iPhone smartphone. While the Copyright Office is
currently reviewing a request by the digital rights group Electronic Frontier
Foundation, Apple filed a response to questions the office sent the company for
its regular review of the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which forbids
practices like jailbreaking that threaten copy control mechanisms.
Apple argues that not only does jailbreaking violate a license agreement
between Apple and the purchaser of an iPhone, but it could lead to cell tower
disruption by hackers looking to wreak havoc.
"Before partnering with Apple to provide voice and data services, it was
critical to AT&T that the iPhone be secure against hacks that could allow
malicious users, or even well- intentioned users, to wreak havoc on the
network," the statement reads. "Because jailbreaking makes hacking of the BBP
software much easier, jailbreaking affords an avenue for hackers to accomplish
a number of undesirable things on the network."
These include manipulating the ECID (Exclusive Chip Identification) number
that identifies the phone to the cell tower. With access to the BBP via
jailbreaking, Apple charges that hackers may be able to change the ECID, which
in turn can enable phone calls to be made anonymously, which Apple points out
would be desirable to drug dealers, or charges for the calls to be avoided.
Apple claims if changing the ECID results in multiple phones having the same
ECID being connected to a given tower simultaneously, the tower software might
react in an unknown manner, including possibly kicking those phones off the
network, making their users unable to make phone calls or send and receive
"More pernicious forms of activity may also be enabled," the document reads.
"For example, a local or international hacker could potentially initiate
commands (such as a denial of service attack) that could crash the tower
software, rendering the tower entirely inoperable to process calls or transmit
data. In short, taking control of the BBP software would be much the equivalent
of getting inside the firewall of a corporate computer-to potentially catastrophic
result. The technological protection measures were designed into the iPhone
precisely to prevent these kinds of pernicious activities, and if granted, the
jailbreaking exemption would open the door to them."
Apple pointed out that in the EFF's submission proposing the jailbreaking
exemption, the digital rights organization admits "decryption and modification
of the iPhone firmware appears to be necessary for any jailbreak technique to
succeed on a persistent basis."
Apple said, therefore, the modifications to the bootloader and the OS that
the user makes in the course of jailbreaking-which Apple noted should be
referred to as "hacking"- constitute a breach the Internet Protocol Service
Level Agreement (IP SLA).