Apple does its part to battle terrorism

You may also like...

20 Responses

  1. Bruce Boyden says:

    Several years ago, the last time I looked at this issue, language like this was inserted because encryption software was on the Dept. of Commerce’s Export Control list. That itself was an evolution from the time, 12 years ago or so, when encryption was treated as a munition and regulated by the State Department.

  2. Nate Oman says:

    Bruce: Interesting. Do you know if the ability of language like this to shield companies has ever been tested? If I understand you correctly the idea is to protect Apple from liability for exporting encryption technology. On the other hand, if I put the technology out there on the web for anyone to download, it seems a bit much to claim after the fact that I didn’t provide access to undesirable parties because of a clause in the boilerplate of the terms of service.

  3. Tony says:

    Public opinion and sentiments will always change as time goes on. Technology is no different in US’s export control. There was a time where stuff like this was legal: http://lawblog.legalmatch.com/2010/02/04/dont-copy-a-website-especially-if-it-belongs-to-a-law-firm/

  4. Civ. Pro. King says:

    These clauses are relatively old, but recently they might have been revised by many companies to reflect new social phenomena and change in State Dept./Treas. regs.

  5. The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security regulates the export of cryptography. There were a series of First Amendment challenges to the regulations (Berstein v. U.S. and Junger v. Daley) in the 1990s, the result of which is that the government backed off the regulations such that posting material on the web isn’t considered an illegal export. The BIS page is here.

  6. Bruce Boyden says:

    Nate, to my knowledge the provisions have never been tested. My vague recollection is that the export controls on encryption evolved to the point where any encryption in a mass consumer product received informal approval, without need for prior review from BXA. (I haven’t looked at this since at least 2005.) But I believe there were requirements that any strong encryption product subject to the export controls nevertheless contain some sort of contractual restriction barring re-export to certain countries (state sponsors of terrorism). So I believe the contract provisions were either required or at least were intended to serve the licensing process, not form some sort of basis for exclusion from liability.

    A couple of things: I’ve never seen one of those clauses saying specifically you couldn’t use the product to build weapons. The concern was always that terrorists would use encryption to hide their plans. So maybe something else is at work here. Also, the encryption controls are (or were) administered by the Bureau of Export Administration in the Dept. of Commerce. But I’m seeing references to the Dept. of Treasury above. Perhaps there are money-laundering regulations that apply here too, although I’m not sure how Itunes would fall within those schemes, which I thought only applied to financial institutions.

  7. M says:

    Might be a preemptive defense to not violating 18 USC 2339.

  8. Evan Carroll says:

    If this is it, Apple has a far superior way to tackle this problem when compared to sourceforge.com: block huge swaths of land, like Iran and Syria. I’ll take an a disclaimer no one reads over the type of nuisance sourceforge is creating any day.

  9. Bernd Felsche says:

    It’s all so obvious now!

    Anybody without an iPod must be a terrorist! :-)

  10. Greg says:

    Maddox pointed this out years ago

  11. Zach says:

    I think that it is great that there is language that supports the fight against terrorism. No US company should support or allow terrorists to use their products for any reason.

    Kirkland Wa Homes For Sale