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Proprietary malware → Jails

Proprietary Jails

Nonfree (proprietary) software is very often malware (designed to mistreat the user). Nonfree software is controlled by its developers, which puts them in a position of power over the users; that is the basic injustice. The developers and manufacturers often exercise that power to the detriment of the users they ought to serve.

This typically takes the form of malicious functionalities.

The “jails” are malicious operating systems that are designed to impose censorship of which applications the user can install. The image of the iPrison illustrates this issue.

These systems are platforms for censorship imposed by the company that owns the system. Selling products designed as platforms for a company to impose censorship ought to be forbidden by law, but it isn't.

This page lists a few jails, along with some of the methods they use to censor apps, and includes specific examples of apps that were blocked using this censorship power.

If you know of an example that ought to be in this page but isn't here, please write to <[email protected]> to inform us. Please include the URL of a trustworthy reference or two to serve as specific substantiation.


  • Apple plans to require that all application software for MacOS be approved by Apple first.

    Offering a checking service as an option could be useful and would not be wrong. Requiring users to get Apple's approval is tyranny. Apple says the check will only look for malware (not counting the malware that is part of the operating system), but Apple could change that policy step by step. Or perhaps Apple will define malware to include any app that China does not like.

    For free software, this means users will need to get Apple's approval after compilation. This amounts to a system of surveilling the use of free programs.

  • iOS, the operating system of the Apple iThings, is the prototype of a jail. It was Apple that introduced the practice of designing general purpose computers with censorship of application programs.

    Here is an article about the code signing that the iThings use to lock up the user.

    Curiously, Apple is beginning to allow limited passage through the walls of the iThing jail: users can now install apps built from source code, provided the source code is written in Swift. Users cannot do this freely because they are required to identify themselves. Here are details. While this is a crack in the prison walls, it is not big enough to mean that the iThings are no longer jails.

Examples of censorship by Apple jails


Game consoles

No game can run on the console unless the console's manufacturer has authorized it. Alas, we can't find a article to cite as a reference for this fact. Please inform us if you know of one.


 [FSF logo] “The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a nonprofit with a worldwide mission to promote computer user freedom. We defend the rights of all software users.”


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