Iphonesimfree announces the availability of a software able to unlock Apple’s Iphone so that it can be used with any GSM operator wherever in the world. The first question that comes – then – is a legal one: is this breaking any law?
Of course, in Italy there is still no case law directly related to Apple’s Iphone, but a precedent ruling of the Criminal Court of Bolzano dated Dec. 31, 2004, stated that as soon as you are a legitimate buyer of a Playstation, you have the right to hack it because it is a general principle of law that proprietor can do whatever he wants with a purchased good.
Then, it is possibile to conclude that if an Iphone is actually purchased (and not rented of leased by the mobile operator, that in this case would remains the sole “proprietor”), Iphone unlock should be perfectly legal, as the selling of Iphonesimfree software.
At least in Italy.
So, at the end of the day, Skype explained the reason for the outage that broke its P2P network. To make a long story short, the point is that Skype relies upon a closed source approach (that slows the bug finding process) and on Microsoft technologies that, in that specific case, create the problem. This reinforces my early assumption, that crash cause was Skype design instead of a unpredictable problem. It simply unacceptable that an outage of that dimension has been provoked by the inability of an operating system to patches itself without always rebooting. And who did that choice should account for it.
Right, Skype is very clear in repeating that Microsoft has nothing to do with the Big Crash. Nevertheless, it raises some suspect, to me, reading statement such as: “The Microsoft Update patches were merely a catalyst â€” a trigger â€” for a series of events that led to the disruption of Skype, not the root cause of it.” or “Microsoft has been very helpful and supportive throughout.” or, again,Â “In short â€“ there was nothing different about this set of Microsoft patches.”, “The Microsoft team was fantastic to work with”. But this PR stuff doesn’t change the basic stuff: Skype is the next component of a “vulnerable society”, where problems, risks and damages are created mainly by the ICT companies – instead of the “dangerous criminals” that fall under than unspecified label ofÂ “hackers”.
A dslreports.com article – bounced by Arstechnica.com – quotes my Skype outage recent post as contributing to of the “list of the evil-doers who all had a chance to get blamed for Skype’s problems”.
The scope of my post was to raise a general issue – distributed vs centralize network design and legal consequences – and not blame Skype “per se”.
They just are an IT company, and they do their business as usual. Closed source software, hype and cheers to users but no “real” communication. To put it in other words: Microsoft might maybe “lead the way”, but – as Skype shows – there are a lot that can “perform” better than Redmond giant.
Skype denies that the outage is the result of an attack, but still failed both to demonstrate the lack of foundation for the attack announcement and clearly explain the reason that caused this sign-in problem. Standard Public Relation technique.
Recent Skype outage, apparently fault of a denial-of-service attack on the Skype centralized login infrastructure, raises again the intrinsic flaw of designing a service or an application (even partially) based on a centralized network topology.
As the recent facts show, offering a service with a Single Point of Failure creates a “domino effect” whose legal implications (in terms of damages suffered by paying clients) might bear unforeseen consequence. The “flawed-by-design” kind of liability might, indeed, lead to a class action against Skype for having knowingly chosen to build their service on a technical structural weakeness.
Of course, I imagine that should that issue be taken into Court, ICT expert witnesses will play the major role in addressing the underlying technical issues.
This is an interview I gave to connected.org that I casually re-discovered. It is an old text, while still up-to-date.
The following interview of the Italian lawyer Andrea Monti
took place in Prague during the APC Europe Internet Rights Workshop.
My thanks to Karen Banks and Chris Bailey of APC for inviting me to speak at the workshop. See also the other interview carried out in Prague of the philosopher, Giancarlo Livraghi entitled “Souls writing on the Net“.